Conventional wisdom is a contradiction in terms. By week three, preseason hype fades, some hopes are dashed, and teams and players everyone discounted begin to emerge as the real deal. Here's what writers I like and enjoy had to say about this weekend's games, at Oregon and elsewhere:
The Trojans appeared real -- blond, good-looking quarterback, playmaking wide receivers, hype out the wazoo. This may come as a surprise to anyone outside the moviemaking capital of the world, but appearances can deceive. Hollywood's Team played Saturday night as if it had been constructed by a Hollywood set designer. Behind the façade, there wasn't a whole lot.
The Ducks wade into Pac-12 play next week with visiting Arizona, and the statistics that should concern UO fans aren’t so pretty.
Oregon committed 12 penalties for 105 yards. The Ducks fumbled three times. They threw two interceptions. They had a field goal blocked. The first offense couldn’t convert a fourth-and-one. Rob Beard’s only field goal attempt, a 25-yard chip shot, was blocked.
In general, the Ducks looked about as sharp as the butter knife in Aunt Martha’s set of silver.
Throw out that blueprint you've always associated with Stanford, the one with the pretty downfield passes and 45-point outbursts. Those days are long gone. Coach David Shaw has crafted a new identity in Palo Alto, and Saturday night's performance sent shock waves throughout college football.
Shackling the No. 2-ranked USC Trojans with bone-rattling hits and a grind-it-out running game, Stanford played the bruiser's role to perfection in its 21-14 upset. For decades, leading up to the Jim Harbaugh years, Stanford had a reputation as a pretty-boys' team that couldn't tackle. A lame generalization, to be sure, but not altogether crooked.
The good feeling of Arizona’s 3-0 start runs head-first into the reality of Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks, the three-time defending conference champs, will sit in wait for a Saturday night game on ESPN. Oregon (3-0) entered last week ranked No. 4 in the nation and should inch up after USC’s loss at Stanford.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was only about 40 seconds into his postgame press conference before flipping the script.
“We have a huge task in front of us next weekend,” he said.
“I think our guys understand it’s a little different deal starting next weekend. … Certainly, everybody is going to be talking about it.”
Looking back on it, the Ducks probably ruined the curve for themselves with a brilliant seven-touchdowns-in-seven-drives start to the season.
That bit of perfection was sweet candy for UO fans, but ruined any chance of a realistic judgment through three games. Months ago, Oregon’s uninspiring nonconference schedule at least looked like the perfect chance for a new quarterback to get his feet under him, and for the Ducks to weather some growing pains before the start of conference play. While both have happened, they’ve come in the wake of a scintillating start during which they did little wrong, offensively or defensively.
In what was a typical non-conference game this year, Oregon raced to a commanding lead and then slogged their way through an uneventful second half to record a 63-14 shellacking of badly out-matched Tennessee Tech, of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Coach Chip Kelly and his staff will have their work cut out this week; no time for relaxation. Oregon had 12 penalties in the game, including nine for over 100 yards in the first half. There were plenty of examples of poor judgment: the defense had four penalties for unnecessary roughness, usually out of bounds. One roughing the passer penalty might have been avoided if the rusher had his hands up, attempting to knock down the aerial, rather then planting his head and shoulder into the upper part of the passer’s body.
This game could definitely offer a nice contrast to USC v Stanford and the reality of Oregon's ranking when tested by a 20s ranked team, as per all nyduck's points below. The huge difference so far? Think of all the scoring players we've put to tape in these first few games... Something like three QBs, 5 RBs, an O-lineman ;), eleven receivers, etc. There was no flying Bennett behind Barkley or an adequate center behind Kahlid. At this point in Kelly's recruiting and system the next guy in at Oregon is improving steadily and inching closer to being a carbon copy of the starter, and the starters at each position run the Kelly offense at a higher level than any of our previous BCS teams. The effect might be a feeling of fewer stars or favorites, but when you look across each position and group the talent drop-off as it pertains to task is steadily getting smaller. Can the rest of the PAC close the gap?
good to see a dose of reality in contrast to all the ankle deep football iq of far too many a duck fan. Now that I have said that, very happpy to see the tinge of doubt and even mild skepticism as to how good the ducks may actaully be right now. In my mind those first three games served thier pupose perfectly so far, It was just enough combination tuneup, and exposee of holes, weaknesses, and chinks that need to be improved on, so that the ducks are perfectly primed to take the next step and play Arizona and win this week. The injuries hurt, but they have the depth and time to develop it and account for them. Kelly and Aliotti amongst coaches quoted are saying they see the improvements and growth coming along and on schedule. And I am very happy to hear that!! They are the best judge of how things are developing. The ducks are 24 point favorites against az., will they cover??? probably!! I see 55 -26 score. but of course thats not what will matter. what matters is that the ducks are far better than arizona, and they will show it. And even more importantly they will gain from the experience and be that much better the week after! This team, injuries to date aside are right on track. The offense will get the ball security and dumb penalties straightened out in due course, The qb will get even better at running the show. The ducks will score plenty. The thing to really watch is how well and how quickly the defense improves, starts to play as one and with an agression that starts to stifle opposing offenses, and hopefully to score points. I know that is what Aliotti is looking for, and if and when the ducks start that aspect of their ascent, then we will see a very different team than we saw the first three games, Then the kool aide drinking bandwagony type fans will be as excited as teenage girls first kiss. But the serious minded football fans around the nation will take notice when what was just said begins to show itself budding though. Still another month to go of experience and development before anyone should expect the real fruits on both sides to show up. They have enough to avoid getting clipped i think by a lesser team before they turn into the true power and machine like efficiency that is in their future later this year.
'Misourri' is still waiting, but things are looking just about right!