Here in Oregon we have a coach with big balls, rather than a equipment manager with deflated ones.
Saturday the Ducks face another lackluster match up that will do nothing for their strength of schedule when they travel to Bezerkley to face a beat up 3-7 Cal squad. The objectives for this one are simple: 1) take care of business and maintain the execution that's made Oregon one of the most formidable teams in the country and 2) stem the alarming flow of injuries, which is starting to become a real concern.
The Ducks are currently down four on the defensive line. Starters Ike Remington, Rickie Heimuli and Dion Jordan are nursing serious injuries, all doubtful for the Cal game, and reserve Jared Ebert, a mobile tackle, was lost early with a knee injury. It's gotten so bad that the Ducks may take the mythical redshirt off true freshman defensive tackle Alex Balducci this weekend. Balducci is a big body at 6-4, 290, a former U.S. Army All-American, but he doesn't have the physical maturity of Remington and Heimuli.
It's a particular concern because smash mouth Stanford is next on the schedule, with bruising tailback Stepfan Taylor and their strong, big, deep offensive line, dotted with 4 and 5-star talent. Football is a game of matchups. Oregon has a lot of advantages over The Cardinal and all three of their remaining opponents, but the ability to stop the run becomes a serious question when the defensive front is so depleted. They need Remington, Heimuli and Jordan for the stretch drive. With Stanford, Oregon State, a possible PAC-12 title game and a shot at the national championship at stake, look for Balducci, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner to be tested in the coming weeks, and the veterans to make a concerted effort to get healthy or play through.
On to some questions and topics hot among Duck fans:
Is this the best Duck team ever?
Only if they finish the job. Certainly this team has tremendous balance with a prolific offense and a ballhawking defense. They're stronger than many recent teams also in that Marcus Mariota is such a complete package running and throwing. His cool and composure has exceeded the expectations of everyone except Chip Kelly.
To surpass the 2011 Rose Bowl team, the 2010 National Championship Game team, the 2001 Fiesta Bowl team, or the Cotton Bowl squad of 1948, these Ducks have to finish perfect in the PAC-12, win the conference title game (probably a rematch with the Trojans) and take Alabama to the fourth quarter.
It will take a great effort and a couple of breaks to beat the Crimson Tide. That defense is ferocious. But this Oregon team matches up much better than the Ducks that lost to Auburn and LSU, averaging less than three yards a carry on the ground. This squad has a big, athletic upgrade on the offensive line in 6-6, 294-lb. Jake Fisher and 6-7, 311 Kyle Long at the guards. Fisher was athletic enough to play tight end in high school, and Long earned a professional baseball contract by heaving 96 mph fastballs. Both are quick and tough, physical enough to manhandle USC for 730 yards of offense and 426 yards on the ground. The gap with the SEC has been closed. Oregon can play with anyone in the country, and this team, provided they continue to practice and prepare in the same way, could just win it all.
What's the biggest challenge Chip Kelly would face in the NFL?
Former Minnesota Vikings star Chris Carter, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, was on the radio the other morning on the "Mike and Mike Show." "In the NFL," he said, "There are a lot of players who care about two things: Me, and my money."
Everybody talks about the NFL as the pinnacle of coaching but it really isn't. It's a graveyard for coaches. Nowhere else in sports can a coach have an impact on a team and a program that a great college coach does. He has complete control of everything, the budget, the staff, the nonconference schedule, the style, system and identity of his team. That's why great college coaches become legends and have streets named after them.
At the college level, a coach like Kelly, Urban Meyer or Pete Carroll gets a tremendous amount of buy-in from his players. They embrace his philosophy and his leadership, and adopt his world view. They allow themselves to be shaped and molded by his vision. Oregon players sound like Kelly in interviews, and they play and face hostile environments the way he has taught them to do so.
It isn't that way in the NFL. A vast majority of players are playing for their next contract. Their primary motivation is to stay in the league and preserve their lifestyle, and too many pay far more attention to their agent or their mistresses than they do to a head coach. Many of them will be skeptical and uncooperative. Kelly would spend the first season or two identifying and finding his guys, and the window in the NFL is tremendously short.
Coach Kelly is a keen football mind with tremendous drive. He'll probably succeed in the Not For Long league. But he won't enjoy it as much and won't find it as rewarding. He'll go, though, because as a competitor he can't resist the challenge. It's a shame, both for Oregon fans and for him.
Should Duck fans be worried about the defense after SC's 51-point performance?
Yes. They'll have to play better and make some adjustments to beat Stanford, OSU and the Trojans a second time. They need to tackle better (after missing about two dozen in the Coliseum) and learn to handle a fast receiver without picking up costly pass interference penalties. The Beavers have two of them, and they're dangerous.
Matt Barkley is a very different quarterback under pressure. Any time the Ducks got to him or hurried him last Saturday, he threw a pick or threw poorly. Trouble is, it's very difficult to get pressure through the big offensive line of the Trojans, and several times Oregon players weren't under control when they got through the pocket. The normally slow-footed Barkley was able to buy time with his feet, and that's inconceivable.
Even considering the talent on the SC sideline, there were too many explosion plays last weekend. Oregon can't have breakdowns like that in the weeks ahead. Because now, the standard and the stakes are much higher. If they avoid a stumble and commit themselves to keep getting better, they could be national champions.
Is Tex AM the best team in the SEC??!! A big 12 team is better than any SEC team??!! LOL
Time for the SEC to eat some humble pie and SHUT UP!!!!
becoming clear now that the SEC IS OVER_RATED!!!!!!
bye bye bama, and saban the vastly over-rated coach! The myth is being exposed, florida barely beat ul lafayette!! , arkansas?? ..LOL,, the sec is concieted and full of itself no doubt,, but time for yhe rest of the voters and watchers out there to see that the SEC is not some kind of 'uber higher than all the others' conference,, not at all!! Never really was,, just built up a mythic mystique. Texc AM just arrived for the big 12 and there they are doin what sec fans said no non-sec tean could possibly do there,, beating their top teams,,,LOL.. everbody have a good laugh at the SE!! TCU will beat KState later tonight, and the Ducks will sit at numero uno in the BCS - flaws and all. The SEC fans completely disrespect Oregon,, so it will be perfect when the ducks dismantle and embarass an sec team in the nc championship game to come. Probably wil still be alabama,, but it doesnt matter if its them or georgia,, it will be a whipping and a giant SHUT UP to the crass moronic SEC fans to boot!!!! LOLOLOLOL!!!!!
hey dale,, missed watching the sc game on tv as it was no power here for a week . listenened on radio and was disgusted the defense was such a disappointment. Glad they won, they were clearly better than sc, but they got exposed, achilles heel, and also the special teams continues to be poor overall. That defense i was really think was better that they are. last years d was definitely better. Aliotti, i love him, but he doesnt have the answers. The sc game from a defensive standpoint was as bad to slightly worse than last year. At least in the second half of the game last year against sc, the ducks made adjustments and shut sc down, Not this years defense. and the secondary??! geez what a disappointment, after last year they knew what was coming at them, and supposed to be a very good cover unit, NOT!! yeah great recivers, but they torched the ducks secondary a second year in a row on deep bombs, that they were expected to compete far better aginst then say arizone did, or stanford. So, a better secondary gave career nights to those same recivers verus lesser teams doing much better than that- says alot! Now, the thing about the ducks is that thier offense is second to none. That means they will run the table and beat all inferior competition becuase they wil not only outscore them ala usc, if thats the last resort, but they will dictate to most teams ala arizona, where they force them to go for it and play a game they have no chance to win, since they have to try to keep up with the ducks offense, That makes the defense look better in many ways then it really is. Howver when they play a team in the national title game, be it alabama, or k state, they will be able to score offensively, only not nearly 62 or as much generally. Maybe alabama 35 i could still see, which would nean that if the defense can keep alabama lower than 35 they can win. Now that is the way i look at it at this point. It is possible, given the offense doesnt commit costly defense scoring turnovers, the ducks have a good chance to win. But, if the offense turns it over for points, and or the defense is a sive ala usc, the ducks will be a longshot. Kstate would be a more wide open and easier game for the ducks to win. Gotta salute the duck s offense and especially that offensive line, it really is vthe best ever at oregon. Sorry that the injured carson york hasnt been able to be a part on the field, he would have reveled in it. It is their best offense ever.
@nyduck I agree, Nyd, the defense has to play a lot better. The good news is few teams have the deep threat USC does with its fast, physical receivers. OSU has two burners, but they are small. The Ducks will make some adjustments in their coverage, and they need to find a pass rush from somewhere with their best four d-linemen hurt (Wade K is also banged up).
I'd be shocked if anyone scores 30 or more on The Tide, but it will be interesting to see how they handle Johnny Football this weekend, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, a fast dual-threat quarterback.
Yes,, a guy that the ducks were aparently high on in recruiting him ,,, interesting isn't it?
Alabama had its chinks in the armor of infallability exposed somewhat last week.. lsu could/should have won that game. Them, and ND. were lucky to get out with wins and not losses. On a good day I could see the Ducks getting in the 40's on Alabama!! I completely agree too that the lack of serious pressure from the defensive line has been disappointing this year. Coming in I thought that was gonna be there as a major key to make the duck defense excellent - especially in games against teams that have great recivers and throw all day, like USC. I thought and expected Dion Jordan to have a monster year. That has not happened, or he'd be in all kinds of awards talk. I was thinking if that had happened(an unstoppable attacking/sacking line) the Ducks would clearly be favorites to be national Champions. If it was happening, they would WHIP and SEC team, including alabama in an NC game. As it now stands the offense is better than expected and is and can hopefully carry the team, compensating for the defensive weaknesses. Both Alabama and K st could get a loss today respectively. The ducks may yet finish the year ranked 1 in the BCS - flaws and all. Can Georgia beat alabama in an sec title game?? It is interesting to watch. Go UCLA!! ...lol.