My search for a good Bloody Mary in Eugene brought me to Sixth Street Grill, downtown on . . . . . . uhh, where was it? . . . . . Oh ya, 6th Street. It's just across from the Incredible Hult Center.
Excellent tomatoey body, not too watery like so many BM's are. Superbly spiced. They could afford to be bolder on the vegetables and other fixin's. But plenty bold on the alcohol. This beverage is heavily fueled!
While there, I discovered a new viable pregame routine thanks to Oregon grad and longtime Eugene resident Vance Naegle, who asked to remain anonymous for this story. The Hult Center parking structure is free on weekends as long as no events are scheduled. And I doubt they would be fool enough to schedule an event during a game.
The Sixth Street Grill, as I said, is right across the street. It's split in half -- kid friendly dining room on the right and minorless bar on the left. Great food. Not a huge place. But the idea is to park free at the Hult, pre-function at the Grill, then bus to the stadium, which isn't that far.
At the game, we enjoyed the usual . . .
|Eric Dargan intercepts.|
|IT'S A FUMBLLLLLE! Oregon steals it.|
And then, THIS guy again! Or as he is called these days: "Cover Boy".
|"Cover Boy". For the third consecutive|
year, Mariotta dons the cover of SI.
Let's just hope this year he shakes
off the curse and takes Oregon all
Some of us got to hang with Da Duck:
This was the best dressed Duck fan.
|Duck in Bobo Fett helmet.|
Then we walked back towards campus and enjoyed one of the funnest experiences for an Oregon fan or grad.
|After a successful game at Autzen, this is Oregon fans' victory cigar. |
Don't bother with foo foo artichokes and basil goat cheese here.
Just order yourself a damn pepperoni pizza and be prepared
to have your eyes roll back into your head.
If you're going to spend 50, 80, or 100 bucks for each game ticket these days, you gotta mix in those other venues that fill you with the great memories.
SPEAKING OF MEMORY
Does anybody remember when was the last time Washington State had a winning season? Would you believe it was over 10 years ago?!? In the 2003-2004 season, they capped off a brilliant 10-win season with a win over Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Since then, they've been generally terrible, mediocre at best.
In all this time, they've had trouble getting a coach to capture the imagination of players and new recruits to rebuild the team. And the jury is still out on whether Mike Leach is that guy now.
He's trying. But before they beat Portland State last week, he was talking of his team's "culture of losing". This excerpt from AP sources:
"There is nobody on our team that has won in college football, and so we have to take that step and that's why it's so important that we're strong internally," Leach said. "There are no players on the team that have won."
The Cougars remain a young team, with plenty of underclassmen and walk-ons seeing playing time. They have already had 12 players make their first career start this season.
"We're younger than nearly everyone we've played," Leach said.
That includes the rapidly improving offensive line that protects quarterback Connor Halliday, the nation's leading passer. The line is made up of walk-ons and first-year players.
Let's get something straight. Connor Halliday is the nation's leading passer for one reason. The Cougs don't run. They just don't. In their win against Portland State, they threw for a whopping 630 yards and ran for 76. Nearly 3/4 of their plays were pass plays.
Can you think of a team who passed 75% of the time and won the National Championship, or a major bowl, or won their league, or even finished high in league standings? I can't. Those teams are few and far between, and probably had a super QB and at least one gifted receiver. In other words, a fluke. A novelty.
So I'm confused about Leach talking about getting beyond this "culture of losing", all the while having his team play a one dimensional system that is doomed to fail.
Oregonion writer Ken Goe is a football genius (at least for this week) because he's thinking what I'm thinking. Here are his thoughts posted yesterday:
My first exposure to what would become the "Air Raid" offense came in 1990 when a young, cocky coach named Hal Mumme brought his Iowa Wesleyan team in to play Portland State.
Mumme was just beginning to develop concepts he refined into the Air Raid at Valdosta State and Kentucky.
Mike Leach, currently running the show at Washington State, was on Mumme's staff at Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State and Kentucky, and part of the offensive brain trust.
On Saturday, Leach will pilot the Air Raid against Oregon in a 7:30 p.m. game in WSU's Martin Stadium.
Here is a good ESPN.com story on Mumme, which traces the evolution of his career and the offense.
While he and Leach were at Kentucky, I visited a practice prior to the 1999 Music City Bowl. I asked if there were any rules for reporters at practice. The response? Don't get run over.
After practice Kentucky quarterback Dusty Bonner broke down some of the Air Raid's concepts for me.
As Bonner explained it, the Air Raid is all about matchups. The quarterback comes to the line of scrimmage and examines the defense. Because of the Air Raid's spread formations, it's hard to disguise defenses and coverages. So, Bonner said, he just looked it over, found the matchup he wanted to exploit, took the snap and exploited it.
Because the quarterback usually determines his receiver with the pre-snap read, he gets rid of the ball quickly. This makes Air Raid quarterbacks very difficult to sack.
There is a well-designed method to the madness.
My problem with the Air Raid is two-fold:
-- It's difficult to stop until it gets into the red zone. When it's close to the opposing goal line and space compacts, those quick passing routes don't work as well.
-- In this offense the running game is an afterthought. It's another reason the Air Raid isn't as effective in the red zone. And the lack of a running game makes it difficult to protect a lead late in the game.
It's a stat-friendly scheme for quarterbacks and receivers. But unless an offense can translate yards into points, it's not an offense you win championships with.So there you go, long suffering Cougar fans. Fun. Exciting. But don't expect a whole 'lotta success. Are you OK with that?
Gametime: Saturday evening at 7:30 Pacific on ESPN.