Brent Zook of Duck Sports Authority posted a link to this on Twitter, a post from "Saturday Down South", a blog devoted to the glories of ESS EEE SEE footbaw, leaving out the messy details like cupcake scheduling, oversigning, low entrance requirements and inflated perception.
Snippets from the poster's remarks follow in italics. The blog identifies him only as "Jon." Blogs from the SEC typically only use first names, or often just an internet handle. The anonymity allows them to make more unsubstantiated and outrageous remarks:
Being a part of the SEC and watching games every Saturday Down South, one is quick to realize that the game is won in the trenches, and that is what separates SEC football from the rest of the measly contenders – the depth and talent along the offensive and defensive lines.
We saw what big Nick Fairley did last year for the Auburn Tigers against Oregon, and he basically ripped the Ducks the whole game – a complete domination. It seemed like Fairley was in the backfield every other play, disrupting the timing of the offense or getting a lick on the quarterback.
The coin toss is 19 days away, and already the Ducks have been downgraded to "measley contenders." Quite a dismissal for a team that's won 32 games and finished 2nd, 11th and 8th in the country the last three seasons, while winning two straight conference titles.
Fairley had a great game, no doubt, but he also had a few great games against some SEC schools as well. The Ducks lost that game by a field goal in the final two seconds, but in a year or two the score South of the Mason-Dixon line will be revised to 55-3. Revisionist history is another Southern tradition, like fried catfish and playing your ninth game versus Coastal Carolina.
It's absolutely true that the Ducks didn't have any success running the football on the loose sod in Glendale, but Darron Thomas had 363 yards through the air, with two touchdowns. It's entirely possible the outcome will be different in Cowboy Stadium. We'll know in 19 days.
There could be several question marks for the LSU Tigers on offense, namely the quarterback position, entering 2011, but we all know John Chavis’ defense will be both physical and deep – and obviously talented.
On the other hand, Oregon’s offensive line only returns two starters from a year ago in tackle Mark Asper and guard Carson York. Each one weighs 325 and 286 respectively, so they are of the heavier members of the line for the Ducks. Losing three offensive line starters is a big lick from a year ago. Everyone knows Oregon’s offense is built around speed – speed getting on the football every snap and speed at all the skill positions. This offensive line acts as a conduit-type mechanism that merely separates speedy backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner from the checker boards – or at least it does against Pac-12 competition.
It's always amusing to me how the bloggers and posters from the SEC will gloss over the weaknesses of their teams and their style of football, while presuming the graduation losses and apparent weaknesses of the opponent are crippling and defining. Quarterback is a pretty important position, but just so everybody knows, Darrion Weems, Oregon's likely starter at left tackle, stands 6-5, 302, and he started seven games last year. His backup, Everett Benyard, is a healthy 6-7, 325. Ryan Clanton, the likely starter at left guard, is 6-5 300. And York? After a summer in the weight room, he's up to an efficient and conditioned 292.
They're obsessed with size in the Deep South, or at least fatness. What they don't realize is that Oregon's zone blocking and double team scheme requires linemen that are agile and intelligent rather than merely large. They have to play with discipline and cohesion and be able to block at the second level. Chip Kelly and Steve Greatwood want athletes for the line, not blobby donut gobblers. It generally works. Oregon's offense produce 47 points a game last season, tops in the country with 6899 total yards. And I'm sorry, I don't know what "a conduit-type mechanism that merely separates LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner from the checkerboards" is, other than one of the most woefully-mixed metaphors in the history of cyberspace. William Faulkner would be aghast. I think it means the Ducks offensive linemen are good at opening holes. But only against PAC-12 competition. Apparently they missed the Tennessee game. Could have been a regional blackout.
Here is where the Tiger fans are in a bit of a trap. Last season Oregon went on the road and beat an SEC school 48-13 with a sophomore quarterback. LaMichael James rushed for 134 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown. The Ducks and their suspect offensive line had 202 yards on the ground and 447 yards of offense after a slow start. Darron Thomas, playing in his second game as a starter, threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions.
The retort might be that Tennessee isn't any good, but the Volunteers played LSU to a standstill last season, losing in the last replayed second, 15-13.
So the Ducks can't stand up to SEC opponents and their big, physical defensive lines. Except the ones they've recently played and beaten.
However, history has shown us that Oregon does not match up well with physical defensive lines – see Auburn and even Ohio State 2009. In both games, the offensive line was rather manhandled, which led to losing the football game.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, to put it mildly, is rather ecstatic at the speed at the end positions. Sam Montgomery returns from an injury and will join Lavar Edwards, Ken Adams and Barkevious Mingo to create dynamic speed at defensive end. Also, add in the mix Ego Ferguson and mismatches can certainly be made quite frequently.
Two games is a pretty small sample. Here are three more: USC and Stanford had pretty big, physical defensive lines, and Oregon hung 52 and 53 points on them. Stephen Paea of Oregon State was the strongest man ever at the NFL combine, 49 reps of 225 lbs., and in the last three seasons of facing him the Ducks racked up 1529 yards and 139 points, going 3-0. Again, the crucial assumption here is that the Tigers will reload while Oregon flounders.That's a possibility but not a certainty, particularly with the energy and intensity the Ducks are showing in practice.
This is a very fast and physical defensive line that LSU will throw at the Ducks’ offensive line.
I am betting on added pressure from a pass rush standpoint from LSU in this one. This does several things for the defense: it leads the quarterback to get rid of the football quicker, limits passing options and creates mismatches in multiple protections. Mismatches should be handled nicely by this speedy LSU defensive backfield.
A physical defense held Oregon to 19 points compared to their season average of 49 a year ago, and a physical defense for LSU will do the same thing at JerryWorld.
Duck season has officially opened!
It doesn't necessarily follow that LSU in game one will have the same success against Oregon that Auburn did in the national championship game. Duck fans could use the same reasoning to say, "Tennessee held LSU's inept offense to 13 points, so the Ducks should keep them to six." LSU's reloading defense, meanwhile, lost a star at each level in defensive lineman Drake Nevis, middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (their leading tackler) and Jim Thorpe Award winner Patrick Peterson. The Tigers have a great tradition on defense, but even Chavis has some work to do, molding newcomers into a unit.
Oregon's made some improvements and adjustments of their own. The outcome in Dallas might be as foregone as the denizens of Southern football presume, but it's equally possible tired metaphors and lazy assumptions may be laid to rest.