However fans remember Jeremiah Masoli, he did a bang-up, safety-trucking job as Ducks quarterback in 2008 and 2009. The Ducks went 10-3 and won the Holiday Bowl his first year as a starter, went 10-3, won a conference championship and made the Rose Bowl his junior year.
Cover boy, no poster boy: Masoli and center Jordan Holmes made the regional cover of Sports Illustrated's College Football Preview in 2009. A month later the Ducks stumbled to an ugly 19-8 loss at Boise State (si.com image).
There were some amazing moments, and probably the most amazing was a 44-41 double overtime comeback victory against Arizona in Tucson. The Ducks trailed 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, 31-24 with just 2:58 to play in the game.
Masoli and the offense got the ball at their own 20 yard line, with red-clad students spilling out of the stands, crowding to rush the field, anticipating a Wildcats victory and a share of first place. The stumpy signal caller led an 80 yard, 16-play drive, throwing over two defenders to Ed Dickson for an eight-yard TD with six seconds left. Nate Costa saved the day with a cool-handed recovery of a bad snap on the extra point, getting the hold down so Morgan Flint could punch in the kick to force overtime.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime period, Masoli hitting a diving Jeff Maehl in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard score, then Nick Foles to Juron Criner for the tie at 38-38.
In the second OT Nick Aliotti's defense held Arizona to a field goal. Masoli then hit Dickson down the middle for a 23-yard pass down to the two, keeping on a zone read on 3rd and goal for the clinching score, final 41-38. The unruly Wildcat fans never got to rush the field, and the curse of the Tucson night game was broken.
A week later Masoli ran over a Beaver defensive back on 4th and 3 to clinch a victory in the Civil War and the Ducks first Rose Bowl in 52 years. He was 14-21 passing in the game for 201 yards, including a 73-yard scoring strike to Maehl.
He left in embarrassment and ignominy, but for two years, the brash, sturdy gunslinger owned Eugene, and brought Duck fans a lot of thrills.
In memory of Bryan Campbell.
In a Duck uniform, he had no bigger fan than I. Jeremiah had a great backstory, a kid who overcame adversity through talent and hard work and made it big. If you remember, there was a stigma back then about the Ducks, a constant worry of the Autzen faithful that the team would slip back into the cellar-dwelling days of old, never knowing from one year to the next whether the success the team seemed to be earning on the gridiron was merely a fleeting hope of fans who'd seen the best of times, the worst of times.
Jeremiah removed that stigma. With that gritty comeback at Arizona and the gritty win over Little Brudda, the street-smart toughie Masoli became the third brick in the wall of expectation, not just hope, that has become Oregon Football. The Ducks were exciting to watch because HE was exciting to watch, and I will never forget how the team he lead through toughness, passion, and desire made me proud to be a Duck.
Yes, he did leave in disgrace, but even in shame, the lessons of Masoli have guided this team to new heights and greater success. He broke my heart in a way that stings to this day, but I will always wish him well.
@duckified His bold, I'm-the-man style was at its peak in that game. He was a fullback playing quarterback and a take-charge leader. Don't take this wrong, but Mariota could use a little (I'm saying a little) of his swagger.
@duckified Very nice Ducki.
@duckified This is beautifully done, and touching. Thanks for sending it.
@zduckfan Buried on the depth chart in '08, he came out of nowhere to save a season. He was a lot of fun to watch, and got it done in a much different style than Dixon, Thomas or Mariota. Good point about the lessons and their contribution to Oregon's success.
Unfortunately swagger isn't something you can practice or take a pill for. JM had the most swagger of any Duck quarterback that I can recall. It's too bad he didn't take his foot off the swagger pedal when he left the football field. He was a lot of fun to watch. I got the year wrong, it was 2009 as JM was suspended in 2010. I believe that game turned the Duck football program around as much as Kenny Wheaton did. After that game, it was Rose Bowl, NC, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl. Before that is was Holiday Bowl, Sun Bowl and Las Vegas Bowl. We owe a lot to JM. Hopefully, MM won't need an abundance of swagger.
@Dale Newton He was fun to watch, and to me, it wasn't just style. He was quicker than Dixon. He had hustle and cut, where Dixon was a gazelle. Masoli would zip between two defenders at an odd angle, stop to tie their shoe laces together, pat them on the heads as they slammed together and then it was "seeeee yaaaaa" on the way to the house... At least that's the way I'll always remember him. :-)
@duckified @Dale Newton Not an abundance, but I feel he could use a touch of it. A little spontaneity. A brush of boldness. He's so under control, the exact opposite of Masoli or Johnny Manziel. You'd like to see him cut loose just a little on the field, show he's having some fun. Sometimes he looks too tight and too serious, like Stanford last November.
@Dale Newton Those were the days. :-)