Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Offensive Line

Much hoopla has been made about the OL for Wisconsin. I gave them an edge based on their size... but they are not significantly larger than USC who averaged 308 pounds... including a 340 pounder.

Oregon: As the 2011 season approached, the biggest question mark fans, media and coaches had regarding the Oregon Duck football team was the offensive line. The Ducks returned starters Carson York (6-5, 292) and Mark Asper (6-7, 325) from the 2010 season. With another entity well known in Darrion Weems (6-5, 302), the biggest question that the offensive line would face is who would fill the departed shoes of center Jordan Holmes.

There were three contenders entering fall camp each of whom had some reasonable doubt as to their readiness. The first candidate was Karrington Armstrong (6-3, 270) a sophomore from Reno, Nevada. Armstrong might have been considered a lock for the position, but an illness sapped a lot of his weight and strength entering fall camp. Another name many Duck fans were excited about, Hamani Stevens (6-3, 305) was just returning from a Mormon mission. Though he was in excellent shape and had managed to keep his weight where it needed to be as a Division I lineman, he had not played a down of football in three years. The final candidate for the position was Hroniss Grasu (6-3, 291) a redshirt freshman from Crespi High School in Encino, California.

Grasu won the position and played as well as could be expected early on this season. There were moments where his snaps in the shotgun were...

Wisconsin: In case anyone has not heard, the Wisconsin Badgers have a very large offensive line. Starting at left tackles is Ricky Wagner (6-6, 320) a redshirt junior. Wagner was named honorable mention all conference and has started 23 of the last 25 games for the Badgers. Like all Badger linemen, Wagner is a very good run blocker who has the ability to play multiple positions on the line. He has, however been susceptible to false start penalties for Wisconsin. With his strength in run blocking, he can be dominant, but he does have trouble with speed rushers. His biggest problem in pass blocking is playing too upright at times.

Next to Wagner, the starting left guard position is normally filled by Travis Frederick (6-4, 330) a sophomore. There is a strong possibility, though that injury will force Frederick to...

Click here to read entire story...

Monday, December 26, 2011

DSA Tailgate-ROSE BOWL Edition

Good Day all!

Just wanted to make sure that all our readers know there will be an official DSA tailgate in Pasadena. We have a parking pass, but it is not for a specific spot. Last time we had to get there at 4:00 AM, but were in a really good location.

We WILL have the DSA flag flying as well as the DSA banner hooked up to our canopy.

So far the plan is to purchase the adult beverages here and take them with us... mainly because I do not want to get stuck buying beer that I do not like!

At the moment the food plan is to stick to basics... it is difficult to bring specialty foods to a road game like this.

However, if there is someone who wants something specific, let me know and I can arrange. We are driving down and bringing all of our tailgate gear with us, so should be able to do a of of stuff.

The one thing we are not bringing, as it stands at the moment, is the generator. We will be bringing my wife's laptop and will be able to watch other games if we choose, but taking a gas filled generator on a 16 hour drive might cause some issues!

No generator also means we will be doing blended drinks the old fashioned way... shaken and on the rocks!

What: DSA Tailgate - ROSE BOWL Edition
When: Jan. 2, 2012
Time: ~ 8:00AM local time depending on just how early we are allowed to get there... last time we were there at 4:00 AM
Where: 1001 Rose Bowl Drive Pasadena, CA 91103
Donations: Donations may be made at the game with cash or through
PayPal: To pay with paypal you can use my email address:
Email Address:
Cell Phone: 503-807-9543

COMMENTS: Remember that we will have the following amenities:

*-TV with cable to watch games during tailgate
*-Food: Burgers, Hot Dogs, Brats
*-Beverages: Beer, Sodas, Blended Drinks

If there are ANY questions, call me at the Cell number listed... thanks!

Year End Thoughts Part II: Run For The Roses

The beginning of the 2011 football season saw the Ducks in unprecedented position; ranked #3 in the pre-season polls. With an opening game against #4 LSU in Dallas, the hype for Oregon was at an all-time high. Win, and the Ducks would hold the keys to a second consecutive BCS National Championship Game in their own hands. Lose? Something Duck fans did not want to ponder.

Yet, in the much less than neutral Dallas site, the Ducks did lose. Their lack of experience at several positions proved to be more difficult to overcome than Duck fans had hoped. It seemed there was a little bit of let down in fans excitement following the LSU game.

Returning home, the Ducks licked their wounds and began a run through the Pac-12 with convincing early victories. As had been predicted, the Ducks and Stanford were once again battling for a spot as the conference champion.

This season was one unlike any other as the Ducks fought through a lot of adversity on the field with key injuries they had not suffered in their previous two BCS seasons. LaMichael James missed two games; Kenjon Barner missed two games; Michael Clay missed three games; Darron Thomas missed 1 1/2 games. Injuries took their toll.

Fortunately for the Ducks, though, the injuries were absorbed due to depth better than the Ducks had ever known. LaMichael James misses two games? Simple, plug in Kenjon Barner who gains 286 yards during his absence. Darron Thomas misses the second half of Arizona State game and the Colorado game? Plug in redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett and whet the appetites of Duck fans for what the future holds.

The biggest story for the Ducks 2011 season began as a secret back in January of 2011 as highly touted running back De'Anthony Thomas came to Oregon for a visit. The long time USC commitment was so impressed with the Ducks that he switched his commitment and became a Duck at the last minute. His talent was evident from highlight tapes, but it really began to show in fall camp as the Duck freshman was simply too good to keep off the field.

Thomas had a forgettable debut with two fumbles, but the explosiveness was there. It was obvious he would have an impact as a Duck. It was just not possible, though, to see just how big of an impact he would have. Though LaMichael James once aga9ns led the Ducks in rushing and all-purpose yards, he now had a companion near the top of that category in Thomas. Thomas led the Ducks in receiving and was one of the best kick returners in the nation averaging 27.7 yards per kick off return. His 16 touchdowns is a record for a Duck freshman.

As a team, the Ducks accomplished a feat no other team outside of USC has ever accomplished in the Pac-10/12; three consecutive outright conference championships. Given the rich history of the conference this may surprise many. There have been some great coaches and great teams in this conference during it's storied history, and yet this is the second best run in the history of the conference. And some, like me, say that the best is still yet to come for this team. The depth is better than it has ever been at Oregon, but this 2011 team was very young on defense. With a year of experience for three freshman cornerbacks and a defense returning 7 starters, the 2012 Ducks might be even better than the 2010 or 2011 teams. Can you imagine that?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Defensive Backs

This unit did not surprise me that much. What did surprise me was the sheer lack of passing that the Badgers faced in the Big 10. Only ONE team that Wisconsin faced averaged more than 200 passing yards per game. Just one! That was Michigan State. In the two games with Michigan State, Wisconsin allowed Kirk Cousins to go 44-61 (72.1% completion rate) for 571 yards and 6 touchdowns. Outside of those Wisconsin games, Cousins is a 63.6% passer who threw for 18 touchdowns in 11 games. Darron Thomas, meanwhile, threw for 30 touchdowns (6 more than Cousins overall total) and completed 61.4% of his passes.

All that really means is that this match-up went pretty much how I expected...

Oregon: Defensive backs were considered a strength entering the 2011 football season for the Oregon Ducks. Oregon graduated just one player, Talmadge Jackson, from the unit that went to the BCS title game a year before. Returning All-American Cliff Harris was supposed to take a step forward and be the leader of this group. Unfortunately, due to off field issues, Harris played sparingly after being suspended for the first game.

In the absence of Harris, the Ducks turned to a trio of freshman to fill the void. Though they experienced the freshman mistakes that many young cornerbacks endure, Terrance Mitchell, Troy Hill and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu played very well and learned on the fly throughout the 2011 season. Mitchell got the start in the opener against LSU in Dallas. Though he showed promise, there were also signs of inexperience as he got beat by bigger stronger receivers on passes in the red-zone. Nonetheless, he proved a solid and reliable tackler and, despite being out-muscled for some balls, never seemed to be "burned" by receivers. Mitchell would continue...

Wisconsin: Like the Ducks, Wisconsin brought an experienced defensive backfield group into the 2011 season. Returning at cornerback is Antonio Fenelus (5-9, 190) a senior from Florida. Fenelus was coming off of an impressive junior campaign that saw him notch 56 tackles and 4 interceptions. Fenelus is the best tackler of the cornerbacks and played well early, but really made more of his mark in conference play. Through the first four non-conference games, Fenelus had 14 total tackles, but had yet to make an impact in pass defense. That would change in conference play where he would intercept 4 passes. For the season, Fenelus recorded 46 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 9 passes defended with 4 interceptions.

Starting opposite Fenelus is Marcus Cromartie (6-1, 180) a junior from the state of Texas. Cromartie saw the first start of his career against Oregon State. Early indications seemed to indicate that Cromartie, the fastest defensive back on the team, would provide an exceptional contribution. Through the first three games of the season, he would have 18 tackles. Cromartie struggled some, though, during Big 10 conference play. For the year, Cromartie finished with 41 total tackles with 3 passes defended.

The Badgers saw action in all 13 games from Peniel Jean (5-11, 190) a redshirt freshman from West Palm Beach, Florida. Jean had his best game against Michigan State...

Click here to read entire story

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Running Backs

As the Ducks approach the 2012 Rose Bowl, to be played Monday, January 2, 2012, Ducks Sports Authority will take you deeper into the match-ups between the Big 10 Champion Wisconsin Badgers (11-2) and the Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks (11-2) position by position.

Wisconsin earned the right to play in the Rose Bowl with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Michigan State Spartans in a "grudge re-match" from earlier in the season. Oregon won the Pac-12 conference for the third consecutive year. Not only did the Ducks have the best conference record in the Pac-12, but they also won the inaugural conference championship game in a game not as close as the 49-31 final.

In today's article, we take an in-depth look at the running backs for the Badgers and the Ducks.

Oregon: The Duck running back corps was considered one of the deepest in the nation prior to the beginning of the season. Nothing that occurred during fall camp or the season changes that thought process.

In the off-season, LaMichael James 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. After a less than stellar performance against LSU to open the season, many began to quietly (and some not so quietly) wonder if the added weight had slowed James down some. After 2 games, James had just 121 yards on 30 carries, only 4.0 yards per carry. James answered the critics, though,

Wisconsin: Wisconsin, answering the question if anyone in the nation could match-up running backs with the Ducks has a very valuable tandem of their own. Monte Ball entered this season as the second leading returning rusher for the Badgers. Ball was behind James White and the John Clay last season. With Clay having entered the NFL draft, the Badgers figured to have a two way race for the starting position between White and Ball. Ball spent the off-season losing 25 pounds and gaining quickness without sacrificing any power. Through the first four non-conference games, Ball and White were even in their production, but against Nebraska, Ball began to separate himself as the lead running back for the Badgers. Against the Cornhuskers, Ball had a workmanlike performance with 30 carries for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns. Over his last five games of the season, Ball had 133 carries for 909 yards and 14 touchdowns. This was an incredible stretch for Ball and catapulted him into the Heisman talk and a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist .Ball's best performance of the season would have been against Purdue when he rushed 20 times for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ball was a very effective receiver out of the backfield this season snagging 20 receptions for 256 yards and 6 more touchdowns.

James White was the leading rusher for the Badgers in 2010 and looked 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Early DSA Tailgate Information

An early heads up that there will be an Official Duck Sports Authority tailgate in Pasadena! I hosted a tailgate there for the 2010 Rose Bowl and it was a blast. We look forward to seeing new faces this time around.

Over the next week, I will finalize information about the tailgate and post it right here.

What I know now is that we are int eh GA parking. We WILL have the DSA flag with us as well as the banner. We will also have a canopy this time around and will bring the bigger grill we used this season. As always there will be plenty of food and drink.

Uniform Rumor

I am hearing from a very good source that the uniform change for the Rose Bowl is to remove the "O" from the helmet and replace it with a Wing design.

I have never fought the uniform changes much because I understand that the kids like them. However, at some point there HAS to be a brand that is firmly established and remains the one constant in our ever evolving identity.

When George Horton agreed to become the Manager for the Duck baseball team, he did it under an agreement that the uniforms have some basics that be adhered to... and that made sense. Certainly it is easier to do so for a non-revenue sport like baseball. Football, on the other hand, is the driving monetary force in the university and thus subject to more outside influences when it comes to things like uniform design.

They say the only constant in this world is change, but I beg to differ. There are plenty of constants. Oregon can stand apart from every other university and yet still have some tradition. We must find a way to communicate our disapproval of this step and ask the athletic department to choose a different helmet for the Rose Bowl.

If they want to work a wing pattern into a "ghost patter" coming off of the "O," that is one thing. But to completely eliminate the "O" from the helmet is a step too far. The "O" is our identity. After all, the "O" is on gloves! We almost had our players banned from flashing the "O" after scores. And the university wants to abandon it? Even if only for one game this is not acceptable.

I have created a facebook page... we need to see if our voice can be heard!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Year End Thoughts Part I: Will Lyles Investigation

Because the next two weeks will be extraordinarily busy, I thought I would share my year end thoughts now.

Recruiting Scandal:

Many of the readers first discovered my writing as we talked about the ongoing investigation into Oregon's recruiting practices. I have made no secret that I believe that the over-hyped status of this is largely a media created monster that has little bearing on reality. I am a Duck fan; that was my initial interest. I make no bones about this fact, but my fandom does not change what I discovered along the way.

A funny thing about investigating... most people find what they want to find. There are more readers when a "feel good" story is taken down by scandal. Think about the Tiger Woods saga. Whenever someone is built up, they just set themselves up for a fall. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Nonetheless, there are always two sides to a story. Much of traditional media assumes "no comment" equals guilt. It is unimaginable to them that no comment is simply used to avoid further complications. Sometimes, no comment simply means no comment.

As I dug into this story, I discovered a lot of information that changed the way people looked at the story. But that was never my original goal. I was simply sharing my thoughts on another blog when someone asked me to put those thoughts together in my own blog. Now, over 110,000 visits later, my story has been seen by tens of thousands of people. Some minds have been eased while others simply dismissed my thoughts just because I am a "fan."

That's okay, I never did the research to convince journalists of anything. I simply looked at existing facts and put them out there in a way that told a different story than the prevailing media thoughts. One of the main problems with media is that it goes unchecked. We are so jaded to the stories we see that no one challenges the media. When anyone dares attempt to challenge the veracity of truth in what the media reports, they are ridiculed mercilessly until the challenger simply quits.

The tactic was used against me as well... the difference? I don't particularly care what people in the media have to say. Unlike the editors of some fan-centric websites, I have no designs to be "mainstream" media. If someone wants to pay me to write, so be it; but if they want to pay me for opinions, I am going to state my opinions. It is not relevant to me whether others in the profession like what I have to say. Simply put, the reason some feel the need to ridicule is that they are not confident in their own ability. When they see some "hack" who does this in his spare time dig deeper and come to conclusions that do not fit their preconceived notions, they begin to feel inadequate.

I have seen this in the business  world as well. There are those who use their own skills and abilities to move up in the world, and there are those that see someone else doing that and simply try to tear them down. For those people, it is simply easier to try to drag others down than to work harder. And, you know what, that's okay too.

Along this journey, I have met some incredible people and had a great time talking about Duck football. I have long been a contributor to Duck Sports Authority and hope to continue doing so for many years to come.

When the Will Lyles story first broke, I thought little of the story. Oregon had not broken a rule, but had played in some murky mud that others did not like. As the story grew, and I watched from the sidelines, I started to see facts distorted and fabricated. So I looked deeper.

Will Lyles told us all that he was a mentor to Lache Seastrunk. Lyles made the world think that he had some magical mystical control over the kid. Why? Well, the story he was telling was that Oregon had paid him for his influence. If his influence was diminished in some way, then his story was less believable.

Make no mistake, Will Lyles implemented himself into the lives of many recruits including Seastrunk. Nonetheless, his position was not one of exclusivity. You see, in the research, it turns out that there were many people heavily involved in Lache Seastrunk's life. Not the least of which was a high school counselor whose husband had coached Lache in grade school. Lache also had an incredible extended family who supported him through it all.

In our journey this year, we got to meet his family and friends and see that Will Lyles was one of may people in Lache's life. Lyles, while claiming he was only trying to help these kids, KNOWINGLY violated NCAA rules to curry favor with the young men and their families. The revelation that Lyles accepted money from a Tennessee assistant (Willie Mack Garza) for an unofficial visit for the athlete AND his mother was the bombshell that proved where Lyles' intentions lay. He was out for himself. He risked the future of young men just to garner their support. He was selfish and despicable in his actions.

When it all started to fall apart, he resorted to what many choose: telling whatever stories he could to victimize himself. But Lyles was no victim. Will Lyles took kids and their families unofficial visits with money from schools. He knew it was wrong and did it anyway. When Evelyn Seastrunk requested Oregon pay for her to visit, she was quickly and loudly rebuffed. These were facts, though, that media ignored in their race to find Oregon guilty.

As the year nears an end, there have been many facts we were able to bring to you exclusively. I was the only person able to interview Lache Seastrunk as he transferred. I got an exclusive interview with his family, with his high school counselor. I brought an exclusive update on Dontae Williams.

These stories helped define the year for the Oregon Ducks. But the year was so much more; because this was the third consecutive season that the Oregon Ducks were the outright conference champion. Only one other school can make that claim. In my next segment, I will discuss the year that was on the field.

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Linebackers

This one was a much more difficult evaluation. I think the Duck linebackers will have more success against the Badgers offense than the Badger linebackers will against Oregon's offense. Nonetheless, the Wisconsin linebackers have had a huge statistical impact and have made a lot of plays this season.

Oregon: The Oregon Ducks lost two linebackers from the 2010 football team. Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger were the heart of the Oregon defense in a run to the National Championship game. After several good recruiting years, however, the Ducks still felt as if there would be little drop-off at the position. Going into the summer after the Spring Game, Michael Clay (5-11, 225) and Kiko Alonso (6-4, 240) had separated themselves from the group of outstanding linebackers. With starter Joshua Kaddu (6-3, 235) returning, Oregon entered the off-season with great hopes.

Just after Spring, though, Alonso was suspended from the team. During fall camp, the question of who would step into Alonso's shoes was on everyone's mind. Up stepped Dewitt Stuckey (5-11, 221) a senior from Stockton. Clay and Stuckey did not disappoint in the season opener against LSU. Clay notched 9 tackles and Stuckey...

Wisconsin: Wisconsin lost two starters from their 2010 squad including their leading tackler and third leading tackler. In a run dominated conference, losing two linebackers can be devastating. Nonetheless, the group the Badgers were bringing back were talented and well received. Mike Taylor (6-2, 230) would be the only returning starter in this group. The weakside linebacker had done enough as a sophomore to be named a third team all Big 10 last season. 2011 would see Taylor have a monster season.

Taylor's season started out good, but no indications of just how special it would be until a little later in the season. Through three games, Taylor had notched a respectable 14 tackles with 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. After that, though, Taylor really started to excel. Against Ohio State, Taylor...

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Tight Ends

Breaking down the tight ends was not all that difficult. Oregon uses tehir tight ends more in the passing game than Wisconsin and the Duck tight ends are considerably more effective when getting the ball. But there is more to the tight ends than catching the ball and the Ducks have the advantage there as well... read on!

Oregon: As the Ducks went into summer, the tight end position was considered a strength for Oregon. Returning All Pac-10 first team tight end David Paulson along with play maker Brandon Williams and talented freshman Curtis White, the Ducks were adding two more talented tight ends with Colt Lyerla and Christian French.

Over the summer, though, the Ducks lost Williams to retirement. Yet, the Ducks still had quality with White and the two incoming freshman. Early in fall camp, Lyerla showed why he was so highly regarded and White showed great promise as the back-up to the always solid Paulson. Then White injured his Achilles and the Ducks were now down to Paulson and two true freshmen.

The one sure thing the Ducks had at tight end, though, was David Paulson. Continuing a long string of very successful tight ends, Paulson showed as a junior great hands, precise routes, an understanding of the offense, how to attack a defense and...

Wisconsin: The Badgers leading receiver in 2010 was their tight end. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Lance Kendricks graduated and took his team highs in receptions (43), yards (663) and touchdowns (5) with him.

Many have compared the Badgers to Stanford, but there is a major difference between Stanford and the Badgers; tight ends. Stanford, when healthy, employed 3 tight ends in their offense and used them all effectively. In 2011 Wisconsin, on the other hand, uses two tight ends, sometimes starting two at the same time, but only one of them is utilized in the passing game.

Click here to continue reading...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Defensive Tackles

Okay, time for the next installment on the path to the Rose Bowl. I was pretty sure where this would lead with defensive tackles and was not surprised at the information I learned in looking at the defensive tackles of both teams.

I was surprised, however, at the conference statistics of the two teams. Read through the Duck Sports Authority article and at the end you will see some interesting numbers in the rush defense for both teams.

Oregon: During the Ducks run to the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, defense played a very big role in the team's success. Much of that success on the defensive side of the ball began with the defensive tackles. With the departure of Brandon Bair and Zac Clark to Graduation, the Ducks found themselves with another position that needed to be reloaded with new talent. Fortunately, the Ducks had rotated in a lot of reserve players getting just about everyone on the team important reps in meaningful games.

At the beginning of the year, the starters at defensive tackle were Taylor Hart (6-6, 283) and Isaac Remington (6-6, 286), a junior college transfer. Though they started, once again, Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti found himself...

The Badgers run out of a base 4-3 defense and are even more intent on occupying blockers and letting their linebackers make plays.

The defensive tackle group is led by Ethan Hemer (6-6, 300) a redshirt sophomore from Medford, Wisconsin. Hemer joined the Badgers as a lightly regarded defensive end. After adding 50 pounds to his frame, he has become a very good defensive tackle for Wisconsin. Hemer started out strong with 4 tackles against an over-matched UNLV squad to open the season. From there, Hemer was a little up and down, but closed out strong with 11 tackles over the final three games of the season. For the year Hemer leads the defensive tackle group for Wisconsin with 32 tackles and 1 tackle for loss against FCS opponent South Dakota.

Starting next to Hemer will be ...

Click here to continue reading

Thursday Morning Rundown

It's been a few days since the last entry. Giving everyone time to absorb all that happens without building up too early to the game.

So the big news of course, was Aaron Fentress' reports about LaMichael James declaring that he was forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft. I am not sure who the source is, but this is still likely a decision that has not been completely made. I think it is likely that James is leaning towards that conclusion, but he also really loves college and college football. I think he knows that the team has a legitimate shot at another National Championship run next year when the defense will be a lot better and the offense will have another year together.

I have heard that he is also considering coming back to get his masters degree. Will he come back? OInly LaMichael knows at this point. However, this team is preparing for a Rose Bowl. At this point, it is best to let James make an announcement when he is ready to do so and not a minute sooner. he has earned the right to have this process respected.

Any reporter can get a scoop. And, that is their job. It's just too bad that their job is so often a conflict of interest with the team that they cover. in this case, at this point in time, it is in the best interests of the team to respect LaMichael James' wishes and leave the subject alone until he is ready to make an announcement.

James is only 600 yards away from the all-time Pac-10/12 rushing record and about 1300 yards away from the NCAA record. The Ducks are set up for a great run next season. James is one of the best ever in the Pac-10 conference. Whatever LaMichael chooses, I wish him the most success and health possible.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Build Up to the Rose Bowl


As we build up towards the Rose Bowl I will do at least three position breakdowns each week culminating with the overall offense and defense with score predictions.

This has been a very interesting year for the football team for a multitude of reasons. Even though most were expecting 2011 to be a bit of a rebuilding year, the Ducks were not far off of a Championship Game return. Incredible, really, if you think about it deeper. If the Ducks 2011 schedule had not included the #1 team in the nation, then it comes down to how the team plays against USC. I like their chances undefeated with USC at home.

Of course, any team can play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game and come up with plausible scenarios for how their team could have had a better season, so I won't think back with too much regret. As I look back, the most important game the Ducks played was Stanford; and the Ducks won. Why was it the most important? Because without that win, the Ducks are not in the Conference Title game and have to HOPE that a BCS bid comes their way. I would prefer to see the team earn it with a victory.

Looking back, with everything that has happened this season, I think all Duck fans should be very happy with where we are at.

*-First game loss

*-Michael Clay injured early in season and missed time

*-Cliff Harris, though he played in six games, never really saw extensive playing time

*-LaMichael James dislocates an elbow, misses two games and plays only about one half of a third

*- Darron Thomas injures both knees and misses a game

*-Lose two senior wide receivers from 2010

*-Lose three offensive line starters from 2010

*-Lose two linebackers from 2010 who are currently playing in the NFL

*-Kenjon Barner misses time with an ankle injury

All of these and others could have caused many a team to fold; not the Ducks. The Ducks simply filled the holes and went out to win the day. For that, fans are now rewarded with a trip to Pasadena. I will be going and will bring some tailgate pictures and memories back with me to share.


Looking at what Devoe Joseph did in his first game as a Duck, is there a reason that maybe Jabari Brown and Bruce Barron saw something that would limit their time this season?

I have no clue, neither have really given any indication as to why they left, but it seems that maybe Brown thought of himself as a one year player and the presence of a senior like Joseph was going to limit his playing time over the course of the season?

All I know is that Joseph played a heckuva game for the Ducks yesterday and Duck fans should be glad to have him for the one season he is in Eugene.

It seems short-sighted to transfer so early into a freshman season, but Brown and Barron have their reasons. I live by the motto "once a Duck ALWAYS a Duck" and I wish them well in their future and hope they have much success.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Wide Receivers

This was another surprise to me as I looked at the statistics and depth charts for both schools. Wisconsin has NO depth at this position. They have their two starters and a back-up. That's it.

What's more, Duck wide receivers had more catches as a group than Wisconsin and just 19 less total yards..

Oregon: Wide receiver is another position that the Ducks found themselves needing to reload at in the 2011 season. Lost from the 12-1 national championship runners-up were Jeff Maehl and DJ Davis who completed their eligibility in 2010. Duck fans found themselves optimistic, though, as Lavasier Tuinei, a rangy receiver with good hands, returned. 2010 also saw the emergence of Josh Huff, the speedster out of Texas. The Ducks were looking for a breakout year from Huff. Coaches and teammates felt that there was only one starter that needed to be found.

Unfortunately, Huff found himself injured in fall camp. Without his speed on the outside, opponents would be better equipped to stack the box and play against the run. The Ducks signed 4 wide receivers in the 2011 class, three freshman and a junior college transfer. Early on in the season, though, it became clear that the three freshmen were going to need to redshirt. Someone else was going to need to step up if the Ducks...

Wisconsin: The Badgers faced a similar uncertainty in their wide receiver group coming into the 2011 season. The leading receiver in 2010 was the tight end. The one constant the team was sure they could count on was the son of former New York Jet All Toon. Nick Toon was a legacy player for Wisconsin following in his fathers footsteps to Madison. Nick had played well enough to be the second leading receiver for the Badgers as a junior.

Entering his senior year off of the frustration that came from a Rose Bowl loss to TCU in January, Toon started the season strong with...

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Defensive Ends

Today's look is at the other side of the ball; the defensive ends. Wisconsin took a blow early this season when their best defensive end went down with a broken foot suffered in practice.

The Badgers have the better "ranking" defensively, but are they the better defense? Take a look at today's match-up article and decide for yourself.

Oregon: At the beginning of the season, the Ducks were looking to replace the multi-talented hybrid defensive end Kenny Rowe. A new position had been created to take advantage of Rowe's versatility on defense. During the season, the frenetic pace at which Oregon played, gave the Ducks a chance to see a potential replacement for Rowe; Dion Jordan. Jordan had a good year in a back-up role to Rowe recording 33 tackles and 2 sacks in 2010. Early in the 2011 season, it became clear that Jordan was more than capable of filling the shoes of the departed Rowe. Nonetheless, it was not until mid-season that Jordan really began to make his presence felt.

Jordan opened the season with 3 tackles against LSU...

Wisconsin: While much is made of the Wisconsin power offense, very few people know about their defense. The defensive ends fit the mold of the "no-name defense" that their coaches love to talk about. The early part of 2011 began with David Gilbert, a junior from Coral Springs, Florida, getting the nod at one of the defensive end positions. After impressive performances during the first 4 games of the season, Gilbert broke his foot in practice. Gilbert was projected to miss 6-8 weeks, but as a junior who has not yet redshirted, Coach Bielema is looking to use a redshirt for this season. It is very unlikely that Gilbert will come back for the Rose Bowl. In his first four games, Gilbert had recorded 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks.

In his place another junior, Brendan Kelly (6-6, 255) stepped ...

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rose Bowl Match-Ups: Quarterbacks

Okay, leading up to the Rose Bowl, I will be doing match-up article for Duck Sports Authority. I was a little surprised by some of the statistics as I did the research.

The most important difference I saw was that the Wisconsin QB has not been significantly better than last year's QB Scott Tolzien. Russell Wilson has a higher pass efficiency rating, mostly due to a higher number of touchdown passes. But he has thrown for what is essentially the same completion percentage. He has a similar yards per attempt number and yards per completion are close to Tolzien's. Wilson has passed for about 30 yards per game more than last season.

On the flip side, Darron Thomas, despite the noticeable slow starts in games has actually been MORE efficient this season. His Passer Efficiency rating this season is 155.2 compared to 151.0 last season. Thomas has completed essentially the same percentage of passes, for the same yards per attempt. he has just thrown much less this season. Part of that can be traced to Kenjon Barner being healthy in the middle of the season and De'Anthony Thomas' presence to help give LaMichael James more rest.

Basically, I see a lot of commentary that the Badgers have a huge edge at the QB position, and I just do not see it as that big of an edge. Both QB's are efficient and make very few mistakes. Both are mobile QB's who run their teams very well.


Darron Thomas began 2010 in a battle for the starting QB position for the Ducks. By the end of camp, the redshirt sophomore had won the position. As 2010 progressed, Duck fans began to understand why as Thomas led the team to it's second consecutive conference title, an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Though the Ducks lost 3 starters from the offensive line in 2011, they were favored to take a third consecutive conference title.

The 2011 season played out differently, though...

Wisconsin entered the off-season after the 2011 Rose Bowl in search of a new quarterback. Scott Tolzein, the 2010 starter was graduating after a stellar senior campaign that saw him complete nearly 73% of his passes for 2459 yards. Tolzein threw for 16 touchdowns and was sacked just 14 times in 13 games in 2010. Tolzien and the Badgers were very efficient in the passing game last season averaging 9.4 yards per attempt passing and 12.8 yards per catch for a QB Efficiency rating of 165.9. Replacing his production would be a tall order.

The Badgers found luck in the NCAA transfer rule for graduating seniors with eligibility remaining. Russell Wilson...

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Oregon Will Lyles Investigation Update

Now that the regular season is complete and we await the Rose Bowl match with Wisconsin, the questions have begun to creep up about the investigation the NCAA is performing into Oregon's use of recruiting services.

My regular readers do not need to be inundated with a history lesson on this subject. To do so is lazy journalism that implies stupidity on the readers parts and fills pages with meaningless repetitive information.

The reason we have not heard yet from the NCAA with whether a notice of allegations is due soon is simple; the NCAA has not completed their investigation. I just received word today that the NCAA has another interview with a different former player this Wednesday. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the final interview of former players or current players and their dealings with Will Lyles.

There is no doubt, now, that prospects who were being mentored by Will Lyles received improper benefits. These players, including the player to be interviewed this week, have been granted full immunity for their information. At the moment, there seems no need for concern that the immunity is a sign of bad things to come for Oregon.

Players need immunity because, in the case of the players mentored by Lyles, the players come from families with very little means with which to repay the benefits they received. Without immunity, the players would be suspended for 4 games, but would not be eligible for reinstatement until the benefits had been repaid to charity. It is known that the Ducks discovered the improper benefits of at least one former player and suspended him for 4 games. The Ducks were working with the player to repay the benefits prior to his departure from the program.

The request for immunity does not signal doom, rather it signals the players admission that they did indeed receive benefits that fall outside of the scope of permissibility. Lyles gave many young men benefits that he knew were improper and the NCAA, for once, is doing an honorable thing and finding a way to allow these young men to continue playing football.

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing the NCAA will learn this week that they did not already know. The player in question did not take any unofficial visits to Oregon. He did visit other schools for camps and that will likely be a point of emphasis in the questions. Though the NCAA is sure to also ask about Lyles' influence during the recruiting process, in this particular case, that influence was not as significant as with other players.

The sad truth is that Will Lyles did provide some true assistance to many of the young men he mentored. There are some that would never have made it into college without his assistance. That assistance was sincere and well intentioned. Unfortunately, Will Lyles also provided considerable improper benefits to many young men.

While the investigation appears to be winding down, the questions will likely persist for a long time to come. Rest assured, though, Duck fans, that the investigative process is almost complete. This Wednesday's interview is likely the last to be conducted of a player by the NCAA.

Monday Afternoon Thoughts

Early Rose Bowl Thoughts:

I heard a strange phenomenon today. Listening to a Wisconsin reporter discuss the game, he picked the Ducks in a close battle... and then our local experts decide to weigh in with their opinions. I would say informed opinions, but it does not seem to be, and it occurred to me why our local journalists make such statements, they are simply reactionary. Rather than begin to dissect a game in-depth, they simply look at base generalities, then jump to a conclusion. Why? Simple; because it is easier than actually doing some research.

As an example, the local journalists will tell you that the Badgers are simply going to run all over the Ducks and dominate them on the ground. Statistically speaking, that looks semi plausible. But look a little deeper for some truth. As an offense this season, Wisconsin averages gaining 43% more yards than their opponents allow per game. the Badgers gain30% more per carry than their opponents allow (opponents allow 4.1 yards per carry, Badgers averaged 5.3 yards per carry). The Ducks defense, however, holds teams to 79.8% LESS total yards and 18.6% LESS yards per carry than the opponent averaged on the season.

Looking at the reverse, the Duck offense averages gaining 97% more yards per game and 51% more yards per carry than their opponents allowed. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin defense averages holding opponents to 19% less yards and only 7.2% less yards per carry than their opponents had averaged.

This tells us that the Oregon defense has had more success at holding opponents below their average than Wisconsin and that the Ducks running game has had more success against their opponents, by comparative performance than the Badgers. Certainly this does not guarantee a win, but it shows that the Wisconsin offense, though very large, was not able to simply impose their will on teams. At the same time, their defense  was not effective in holding other teams down. They were simply "treading water" against their opponents basically allowing what the other teams averaged.

When calculating it out, that means that the Duck running game is likely to average between 5.3-6.5 yards per carry and gain 236-250 total yards on the ground. The Badgers, looking at these statistics, are likely to get in the range of 4.5-4.7 yards per carry and 179-189 total yards if statistical trends hold true. That gives a better picture of the game than "their guys big, Oregon guys small, Oregon in trouble." Come on local journalists, you get PAID to write about something, try to get informed before you spew mindless drivel!

Cliff Harris Dismissed

I would be remiss if I did not mention this here. Cliff Harris is an exceptionally talented individual on the field. i do not know what transgression transpired that resulted in his outright dismissal from the program and I am not going to speculate. To do so is unfair and unnecessary. As I say with all Ducks, once a Duck always a Duck. But I will say that no one player should be above the program.

I want to wish Cliff Harris luck in all his future endeavors and I will be cheering for his success. I hope not only that he succeeds on the field, but more importantly off the field.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monday Morning Quarterback: Championship Week

A Look Back the Pac-12 Title Game


Offense:  The Ducks were able, for the most part, to impose their will on UCLA. There were some missed opportunities and some familiar traits to the start of this game that have garnered attention amongst some. Still, the Ducks led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter and this game was never really in doubt. UCLA played inspired early after feeling some new life granted by Utah's loss and pride/guilt at playing for Rick Neuheisel. 

Darron Thomas played good but not great and was not helped out by his receivers much early in the game. Late int he game, witha  chance to put the nail in the Bruins coffin, Thomas threw a beautiful pass into the end-zone for Josh Huff that was dropped.

The rushing attack showed why it is the best in the conference as LaMichael James capped, possibly, his career at Autzen with his fourth 200 yard game of the season. Darron Thomas proved that even a few carries by him will keep an opponent honest and Kenjon Barner quietly surpassed 900 rushing yards this season.

Defense:UCLA gave Oregon a few troubles, but not as many as many might believe. The Bruins had two long drives in the game that gave them 168 yards. In their other 12 possessions, the Bruins accounted for only 169 yards. From the second quarter until the last drive by the Bruins, the Ducks limited UCLA to 158 yards on 34 plays for an average of 4.6 yards per play.

This UCLA team came in averaging 193.2 yards per game on the ground. The Ducks had held them to 126 yards. Overall, the Ducks still held the Bruins to just 160 yards. Considering the plan UCLA had to control the ball with the ground game, the defense played well. They gave up a couple of big plays, but it is tough to argue with the overall results.

Coaching: Chip Kelly was as aggressive as always and it turned out well for him in most cases. Chip used the clock effectively and managed the teams emotions very well. When De'Anthony Thomas went down, Kelly made the choice to use Kenjon at the tazer position rather than move Huff inside. Though many voiced the opinion that Huff should have been moved inside to the slot and let Hawkins fill Huff's spot, this was a better decision that allowed the best players to be on the field at the same time.

Around the rest of the conference:

Arizona State: ASU also fired their coach this week. There are a lot of benefits to coaching at ASU and if the next coach is good at exploiting those benefits, teh Pac-12 South may become a very tough place to win football games.

Arizona: Arizona made a home run hire. While the spread may not have worked in Michigane it will likely have great success in Arizona. Rich Rodriguez will have access tot he type of athletes he needs being so close to Texas and California.

California: The Golden Bears finished 7-5, but their play late int eh season gives them hope for next season. The defense played well at times this year, but the problem was their inconsistent QB play. As the season came to a close, Maynard looked to be "getting it" and that should give them some reason to believe next year will be better.

Colorado: The Buffaloes found that the Pac-12 is no easier than the old Big 12 was. They were able, however, to make a statement by winning their first road game in 24 tries as well as ruin Utah's dreams of a Rose Bowl.

Oregon State: The Beavers have had their worst season since 1997. With their second consecutive losing season, the Beavers will need to fill a lot of holes and do some serious soul searching as a staff int he off-season. Will Mike Riley be on a hot seat next season?

Stanford: The Cardinal once again finished 12-1 and will play ina  BCS bowl. Their loss to Oregon, though, kept them from a conference title and probably National Championship Game match-up with LSU. Will Andrew Luck go to the NFL? Will Luck's departure send the team back to the middle of the conference? Time will tell.
USC: The Trojans have made their statement; they believe that they will be back next seasona nd contend for a national title. That hope, though, depends on Matt Barkley's decision. If he leaves for the draft, there is at least one other player, Ryan Kalil, who has said he will do whatever Barkley does. If that happens, expect the Trojans to take a small step backwards as there is no experience at the QB position behind Barkley.

UCLA: UCLA is now at a crossrods. Two consecutive bad coaching hires have left them rudderless. With USC still having not entered the worst part of their sanctions, one more bad hire could leave the Bruins permanently out of the picture in the LA sports scene for high school football players.

Utah: Utah learned that the Pac-12 is tougher than the Mountain West. You have to play your best every week to win in this conference. By losing to Colorado, the Utes also lost out ona  Pac-12 Conference Championship Game match with the Ducks. But the Utes have a very good defense and will be a tough game for everyone next season.

Washington: Steve Sarkisian has done a great job turning around the Huskies. But to contend for division and conference titles, he is going to have to get a lot more depth. He has done a nice job of getting quality starters in Seattle, but they need depth to stay competitive throughout an entire season.

Washington State: The Cougars took a gamble and hired a coach with some baggage. But that is what they needed. Mike Leach is a brilliant football mind and will bring some instant credibility to their offense. Will he win? Not right away, but he will make every game they play exciting

PAC-12 Bowl Schedule:
(All Times PST)

Dec. 22
Las Vegas Bowl—Arizona State vs. Boise State (11-1) (5 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 28
Holiday Bowl—California  (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5) (5 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 29
Alamo Bowl—Washington (7-5) vs. Baylor (9-3) (6 p.m. ESPN)
Dec. 31
Sun Bowl—Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah Utes (7-5) (11 a.m. CBS)
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl—Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7) (12:30 p.m. ESPN)
Jan. 2, 2012
Rose Bowl—Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2) (2 p.m. ESPN)
Fiesta Bowl—Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1) (5:30 p.m. ESPN)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Three Plays That Made the Difference: Pac-12 Championship Game

UCLA entered the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game a wounded animal with a lame duck coach. After suffering a 50-0 drubbing to cross town rival, the Bruins backed into the title game when Utah could not beat conference cellar dweller Colorado. The Bruins came in 6-6 overall and 5-4 in conference play. The Ducks, meanwhile, had thoroughly dismantled in-state rival Oregon State in the annual Civil War match-up to push their record to 10-2 overall and 8-1 in conference play this season.

Looking back at Friday's game, there were three plays that changed the game.


1st Quarter, 14:53

The Ducks, who like to play defense first to get a chance to gain an early possession advantage with a stop, were in business very early. On just the second play of the game, 2nd down and 5 yards to go, the Bruins quarterback, Kevin Prince, fumbled the ball giving possession to Oregon at the UCLA 39 yard line. Four plays later, LaMichael James rushed for a 30 yard touchdown to give the Ducks an early lead and a possession advantage.


1st Quarter, 12:00

After two possessions, the Bruins had zero total yards on just five plays. The Ducks had scored once. On the second play of their second possession, Darron Thomas completed a pass to De'Anthony Thomas that gained 17 yards. What began as a very promising play ended with a fumble by De'Anthony and a head injury that would sideline him the rest of the game. This would be a key loss as DAT is an electrifying player who could not be replaced. Making matters worse, the Ducks were perilously thin at the wide receiver position with Justin Hoffman still out with apparent concussion like symptoms and Keenan Lowe out with a hand injury.

The turnover would not be converted to points by the Bruins, but the damage was done to some early momentum as well as a very valuable player lost for the rest of the game.


4th Quarter, 9:44
On 2nd and 7 from the UCLA 43 yard line, LaMichael James took a hand-off and went to the left side for a 19 yard gain. Though the Ducks would ultimately turn the ball over on downs in this series, the play has meaning beyond this game. That play was, quite possibly, LaMichael James' last carry in Autzen Stadium.

A player whose rise to stardom came on the heels of Oregon's most embarrassing moment may have heard his last Autzen cheer. If James is to never play in Autzen Stadium again, we can still say that we had the chance to see one of the best ever. The first player in the conference to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games since 1982, used the 19 yard run to secure his fourth 200 yard performance of the season. James is the first player in conference history to rush for 1500 yards or more in three different seasons. His play has been brilliant. Whatever stars Oregon brings out after his departure, none will be LaMichael James.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Breaking Down Pac 12 Title Game Match-Ups: Defense

In the second part of our look at the Oregon-UCLA match-ups, today Duck Sports Authority brings you the defensive side of the ball.


UCLA: The Bruins defense is more flexible in how they line up depending on the opponent. When the Bruins have faced pass heavy teams, they have used a 4-2-5 alignment as their base in order to have the extra defensive back on the field. Against more traditional offenses, the Bruins use a 4-3 base defense. As the Ducks are neither traditional nor a pass happy offense, it is difficult to predict how the Bruins will line up. They are a little short at linebacker and will feel a pressing need to contain the Ducks speed, so expect a variation of the 4-2-5 on Friday night.

The Bruins start Datone Jones (6-5, 275) and Damien Holmes (6-3, 270) at the defensive end positions. Both of their starters have similar statistical profiles with Jones recording 33 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. From the other side Holmes has 28 tackles with 5 tackles for loss and 1 sack. The primary reserves for the Bruins, Owamagbe Odighizuwa (6-4, 266) and Keenan Graham (6-3, 255) have seen action in all 12 games this season. Odighizuwa, the Portland native who chose UCLA over Oregon, has 16 tackles and 1 tackle for loss while Graham has 13 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack.

Oregon: Oregon had seen a very steady group this season with Dion Jordan making a huge defensive impact all year; until being injured against USC and missing most of the game. For the season Jordan has 39 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Starting on the opposite side is another senior, Terrell Turner. Turner has provided veteran leadership and stability. In fact, Turner leads the group with...

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