Opinion: In The Hands of Man
“Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.” From a simple statement grows a strong opinion about the state of athletics and our places as fans. The pressure of winning is intense; more now than ever. Coaches are paid exorbitant amounts of money to do just that; win. And we cheer for them to win. We hope that whatever it takes to win is legitimate enough to not cause real trouble. And when we roll in the mud with hogs, we are bound to get some dirt under our nails. Everything degenerates in the hands of man.
Breaking Down Match-Ups
Each week during the season, I will take the time to break down the match-ups at each position group for both the Ducks and their opponent. A unique look at which team has the edge at each position as well as an overall preview of the match-ups.
Every week I will bring new feature articles for the reader to get to know the Duck Empire just a little better. The Duck Empire is vast and complex, these stories will bring you inside the lives of other Duck fans.
We are always working to bring you breaking news and exclusive stories. The Other Side of Duck was the only Oregon member to interview Lache Seastrunk after his transfer. We are working on future exclusive stories and will work non-stop to bring you the very latest news.
The Other Side Of Duck
We are here to bring you a side of Duck sports that no one else brings. There are two sides to every story, our goal is to bring you the side of the story less discussed. In addition, we will continue to provide more content than responses to other stories. Original content, exclusive interviews, strong opinions and feature articles.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Over the last two weeks, I have referenced that Will Lyles may have provided extra benefits to athletes with whom he had a "mentoring" relationship.
This week Yahoo Sports released details of a specific extra benefit Seastrunk received through Lyles in the form of $1500 worth of plane tickets for he and his mother to visit Tennessee unofficially.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
|John Walls with his mother|
While John was undergoing intense chemotherapy in an attempt to rid his body of cancerous bone marrow, he had received some particularly painful news; none of his family were marrow matches. Realizing just how difficult a bone marrow transplant was without donors, John and his family organized a bone marrow donor drive in Wilsonville.
These drives are critically important to young people, like John, searching for a bone marrow match that might save their lives. Donating bone marrow is not as simple as donating blood. The procedure is considerably more difficult to the donor. As each of us strolls through our lives focused on so many things we feel important, we walk by people every day that may someday need our help. We just do not know it yet.
You will hear people talk around football teams about overcoming adversity. There is merit on the football field, or any place where competition occurs, to teaching life lessons to athletes competing in sports. The young men we cheer for on Saturdays learn how to persevere through pain; through disappointment; through adversity. They learn this through athletics.
Though the lessons are very important, they are meaningless without practical application. John Walls had spent his life around athletics and had learned incredible integrity. The one thing we all take for granted, though, is what role adversity might play elsewhere. While we are focused on our own problems and how to solve our daily travails, we are failing. No matter how well we seem to solve our own difficult circumstances, we are missing out.
On July 13, 2004,even as he was waging war against a body rebelling against him, John's family had a bone marrow donor registry drive organized in Wilsonville. Over 100 people showed up that day to add their name to the registry as marrow donors. Considering the size of Wilsonville, this was an incredible number. We will never know how many people those 100+ donors may have helped, but we do know that without John's presence, this would not have happened.
When I write to John the next day, here is what I told him:
John, keep up your amazing strength and spirit. It's what
you have inside your heart and mind that determine where you
will go... for over 100 people to show up in your honor
yesterday just shows how strong your presence in Wilsonville
is... there is so much support and love here...
Muhammed Ali was the guest of honor at the All Star game
last night and it reminded me of something he once said
about what makes a champion...
Champions are made from something they have deep inside
them-a desire, a dream, a vision.
John, you ARE a champion so keep that dream; that vision
that you have deep inside yourself... never lose the focus
on what your goal is... to kick AML's butt... you can do it
with the heart of a champion and the courage of a gladiator
you can come out on top... always, always BELIEVE
Just a couple of weeks later, as fall football camp opened up for Wilsonville High School, John was really starting to hurt; he was missing his first football season. Not yet 15 years old and a sport he had loved for so long was taken away from him; he was handling it as best he could, but he still wanted to play.
I communicated frequently with John through his website. AS he was feeling the pain of missing football for the first time, I tried my best to offer some solace in his battle.
There may be no glory in the battle itself, but there WILL
be glory in the victory. I know your mom talks about how
wonderful this community is....it's the reason many of us
moved here and the reason we all stay.
There are so many people that make this community the palce
it is and without them, we would all be in trouble. John,
just remember that to win the tough games, you have to keep
battling. When the legs get tired and your focus starts to
wane, that's the time to bear down and re-energize your
focus onto your goal. Right now the goal is kicking AML's
butt to the curb.
Trust in your dreams and make them your goals.
As always LiveStrong and STAY Strong!
Live Strong and Stay strong
Three days after this, John went into remission. We were all in shock, had he beaten leukemia in just three months? That is a difficult question to answer in the moment. With all of our hearts, we all wanted to believe that the battle was over; John had won. But reality has a way of slapping you in the face if you become too complacent. Remission is not victory, there was still a LONG fight ahead for John and the rest of his family.
|John Walls just before completing chemo, 2004|
John began to see a return to normalcy, and he was excited.
It is trivial, in most cases, to compare anything like a game to real life. John was facing real struggles. Yet, we must keep in mind that even on the field, the lessons that can be taken away are critical. One of the most amazing aspects of John's battle with leukemia was the incredible community support John and his family received.
It seems that the only time people band together is in the face of tragedy or in times of accomplishment. What can be learned from both instances might be how important a social community still is to our existence. In The Aesthetic Beauty of Football and Social Capital and Football I addressed this concept. John's story shows how the concept becomes reality; one person, one community at a time. I also wrote about Strength Coach Jim Radcliffe in a piece called Strength In All the Right Places.
Though those articles were specific to football, there was, hopefully, a life lesson; one of great importance. John's story, though far from over, brings those three concepts together. John's story shows how the beauty of sport and social nature of our existence can combine to create a better existence. But without strength in the right place, it is all meaningless.
The beginning paragraph of David Calmers' "The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory:" states:
Conscious experience is at once the most familiar thing in the world and the most mysterious. There is nothing we know about more directly than consciousness, but it is far from clear how to reconcile it with everything else we know. Why does it exist? What does it do? How could it possibly arise from lumpy gray matter? We know consciousness far more intimately than we know the rest of the world, but we understand the rest of the world far better than we understand consciousness.
What is it about John Walls that made the difference in so many lives? Simple: he had strength in the right place. We applaud strength and speed on the field. But strength of character, integrity and strength of mind are the strengths that make a difference int he world. At only 14 years old, John Walls displayed a strength of character, integrity and mind that many adults lack.
Let us learn from John. With every cheer, remember John's courage. With every bad moment, remember John's battle. As we leave the stadium, remember John's strength. John Walls knew what he was facing and yet he fought with every fiber of his being. He did not let his mind take over; he was able to control his consciousness with a singular determination to beat leukemia.
Every day, I am reminded of this battle. I wear a Livestrong bracelet that has been on my right wrist since May 2004. Each time I look down, I am reminded of John's strength and courage. Nothing can take that away.
At the end of every note I wrote to John, I ended with Live strong and STAY strong. That has a practical application to our lives and our fan-ship. Stay strong in your integrity.
Next up: A Return to Normalcy
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Ducks are ranked #15 in the nation and sit alone atop the Pac-12 standings with a league record of 4-0. They continue a four game road trip this weekend with matches against Washington and Washington State before returning home for a pair of crucial matches against 4th ranked Cal and 6th ranked Stanford.
JAMES RUNS TO MORE RECORDS
With 288 yards on 23 carries, James surpassed the single game record of 285 set by Onterrio Smith against Washington State in 2001. Adding to that, James also surpassed Derek Loville for most career rushing touchdowns. Truly an impressive week for James which was capped by being named Pac-12 player of the week.
FOOTBALL ROUTS ARIZONA
|Duck Fans Celebrate|
Next up for the Ducks a Thursday night home game against Cal. Join us at the Official Duck Sports Authority Tailgate!
Monday, September 26, 2011
This was not the only trip funded by Lyles. If you read through the recruiting stories you will note that Evelyn Seastrunk also visited USC and LSU on unofficial visits. In addition to those visits, she was present for the official visit to the University of California at Berkley.
In questioning whether Lyles helped or hurt, the fair point was brought up about the impact that this might have on the players. To his credit, Lyles attempted to minimize the impact on Seastrunk by asking that Seastrunk be given immunity from any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Oregon officials were aware of the extra benefits received through Lyles and were advising him to pay back the amount he received two-fold.
It should be further telling that the NCAA has not yet ruled on the hardship waiver after the transfer.
In the past few months we have seen several cases where athletes received money through mentors, specifically Sharif Floyd of Florida and Damiere Byrd of South Carolina. Due to extenuating circumstances, Floyd had a four game suspension reduced to two games while Byrd served a full four game suspension. And that appears to be the magic number; four games.
Lache Seastrunk transferred to Baylor after one season in Eugene. He arrived on campus the week of Baylor's first game. After his arrival on campus and admission into Baylor University, paperwork was submitted to the NCAA asking for a hardship waiver of the NCAA transfer rule that would have allowed Seastrunk to play this season. There were some insiders who thought there would be news of the waiver request last week, but as of this moment nothing has been determined by the NCAA.
Late last week, in private conversations, the possibility was raised that there would be no "official" word of the hardship waiver until after Baylor's fourth game; that there was a four game suspension in place and that the waiver would likely be granted after the four game suspension was completed. That may still be the case; time will tell.
But this brings us back to the intent of the original article; did Lyles help or hurt the players with whom he was working? All along, Lyles has professed he simply did not understand all of the rules and that he had good intent. Now, however, there can be no doubt that Lyles knew this was a violation. Even the least knowledgeable on NCAA bylaws knows that schools cannot wire money to "mentors" to pay for unofficial visits.
The innocent "dupe" label must now be stripped away from Lyles. He was never innocent in this and his intent was never pure. Lyles admits he kept the extra $53 from this transaction. What else did he receive and keep? That is a fair question to ask now.
How did Lyles pay for the trips to LSU, Auburn (three unofficial visits), USC and the official visit to Cal? How did Lyles pay for the trip he took to Hawaii to watch Seastrunk play in an All-Star game? As a scout, he received just $36,000 for his own scouting service. Where did he get the rest of his income? These are all fair questions now.
This also brings new light back to Gary Campbell's statement when Evelyn found out Oregon would not pay for her to visit during Seastrunk's official visit.
“I don’t know how he got there, but I know Lache’s mom didn’t come to Oregon and she was pissed at me because we didn’t bring her up here and everything. We couldn’t do it and we told her there was no way that we could bring her in. We didn’t do that and I don’t know what other people did.” Campbell said.
There are still a LOT of layers to uncover with this story. Will Lyles has a new story every time someone asks for more information. At this point in time, what I have been told is that Oregon did not pay for any trips for Lache Seastrunk or his family. Time will tell, though, the real truth. One thing I think can be said for certain, Will Lyles knew he was violating NCAA rules when he accepted money from a coach for an unofficial visit.
To smugly say he was only trying to help these young men is now a joke. To blatantly violate NCAA rules knowing that if caught, those very players would be ineligible in no way helps anyone but Will Lyles. When this is all over, Will Lyles does not have to give anything back. Will Lyles is not suspended. Will Lyles took away the dreams of young men for one reason: money.
It is time for the NCAA to re-write the rule book regarding scouting services. This time, there should be a department created responsible for overseeing recruiting and scouting services. As part of their responsibility, the department should create a registry of acceptable services. No university should be permitted to purchase services from any provider not on the list.
It is time to clean up the mess. Will Lyles says he didn't know the rules. This incident proves he most certainly did know the rules. Will Lyles did not care about any of the players he "mentored." If he cared, he would never have put them in this position. He would have done the research and made sure to keep them away from NCAA violations.
Sadly, it looks like Lyles cared about no one other than Will Lyles
- LaMichael James, staying in the game longer than some thought he should, surpassed Onterrio Smith's record for rushing yards in a single game with 288.
- James also surpassed Derek Loville for the school record in career rushing touchdowns.
- His Saturday night performance in Tucson vaulted James from 13th in conference history to 6th most rushing yards.
- Darron Thomas now has 12 touchdown passes on the season against just 1 interception.
- The Ducks defense recorded five sacks against Nick Foles; more than he had been sacked in the Wildcats first three games combined. It was also more than the Oregon defense had recorded combined in their first three games.
Originally posted by ZookDuck69:
Darrin Thomas rushing his way down the field. Opens the way for LMJ for the TD. That's more like it!
Originally posted by guy_mamac:
LMJ seems to be on another level tonight.
Originally posted by ZookDuck69:
One thing I'm seeing tonight is LMJ hitting the hole with authority. Nice to see him not dancing as much. Either he's seeing the hole better OR the O line is actually making some holes. Either way, I like it.
Originally posted by AZQuackHead:
Dion doing his best kenny rowe impression, I love it
Originally posted by Tony DiFrancisco:
Loved to see that last sack by Turner. 3 man rush and that OL got owned. 4 sacks in the 1st half
Originally posted by Uduck10:
Not happy with our Defense whatsoever. We need to get our Corner situation figured out and fast. Happy with the offense though!
Originally posted by GOAT*75:
Not sure whether it is the "scheme" or the players themselves, but if the Ducks can't defend the pass better than they did tonight, Luck is going to light them up BAAAAAAAD! How about playing some press coverage? Jeezo!!
Originally posted by ducks39:
I wonder if people realize that we played them better this year than last year... on the road... we held Foles to fewer passing yards (2010:448; 2011 398) gave up a little bit more on the ground (2010: 58; 2011:82) gave up slightly more points (2010: 29; 2011: 31) less total yards (2010: 506; 2011: 480). We got to him more in this game than last year (2010: 3 sacks; 2011: 5).
On offense we rushed for more yards (2010: 389; 2011: 415) threw for less (2010: 148; 2011) had less total yards (2010:537; 2011:516) but scored more points (2010:29; 2011:56).
I think that the difficult part is that the Ducks were HAMMERING Arizona and allowed them to, momentarily at least, get back in the game. They were at home, made some good half time adjustments and made a nice run... fro the most part, playing AT ARIZONA we played them better this year than last...
This was a dominating 25 point win, on the road, against a Pac-12 opponent with one of the best QB's in the country. Are there some things to work on? Sure. But there always are....
This game actually went better than most people had projected. Most observers had speculated that Arizona would make the game interesting early and that the Ducks would pull away late. Instead, the Ducks pounded Arizona most of the first half and came out a little flat in the second half before eventually pulling away in the 4th quarter.
The glass half empty fans might point out all of the drops that Arizona had... drops happen to every team. It is the adversity that all teams must overcome. Oregon also had it's share of drops, balls thrown to Will Murphy and LaMichael James come to mind. James also bobbled a ball that, had he caught the ball cleanly, he might have had a significantly longer gain. Dropped passes do not define the performance, the ability to overcome those drops does. Arizona could not overcome drops. Not because they were not offensively capable of doing so, but because the Ducks defense made stops when they needed stops.
Was this the "prettiest" defensive game ever? Certainly not. However, this was a better defensive performance than the one the 2010 Ducks provided against Arizona. This was a road game in a hostile environment. There is reason to believe that this team is getting better every week.
Leading up to the game, some were of the mindset that the Ducks needed to focus on the pass and forget the run... and we see why they are not coaches. Had the Ducks approached the game in this manner, Arizona would have gashed the Ducks defense early with the running game. Rather than focusing on stopping the pass first, the Ducks did exactly what they always do; stop the run and try to make the team one-dimensional.
Give credit to Nick Foles, he played mistake free football. This is an NFL caliber QB who played a very good game. And yet the Ducks still sacked him more than he had been sacked in the previous three games combined.
All in all, when you can get a 25 point road win in the Pac-12, you take it, get on the plane and smile. It won't always be that easy.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
1st Quarter: 15:00-14:05
The first 5 plays of the game. These set a tone and completely changed the Arizona game plan. Darron Thomas carried the ball on four of the first five plays and completed a pass to Rashaan Vaughn on the other. Thomas had 33 yards rushing before LaMichael James got a touch. That threat kept Arizona more honest on defense the rest of the night.
2nd Quarter: 5:12
Arizona punts and LaMichael James, catching the ball with a full head of steam returns the punt 51yardsto the Arizona 28. Threee plays later, James scored to make it 35-3 Oregon.
4th Quarter 13:00
After clawing their way back into the game and possibly turning it into the shootout many had expected, trailing 42-24, Arizona was driving again getting as far as the Oregon 6 yard line. Knocking on the door for another touchdown, on a 4th-and-6 play, Foles dropped back to pass, with no one open, Foles scrambled trying to keep the play alive before being sacked by Dion Jordan for a 16 yard loss. LaMichael James would get 70 yards on the next two plays, both runs, getting the Ducks in position for the points that would close the door on Arizona's comeback efforts.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Colorado @ Ohio State (-15.5)
12:30 PM, ESPN2/ABC
Game Thoughts: Colorado has looked better this season than the past few seasons. Ohio State has taken a definite step backwards this year. However, playing back in "The Horseshoe," Ohio State will be looking to get a sour taste out of their mouths.
The Pick: Ohio State
UCLA @ Oregon State (-2.5)
12:30 PM, Fox College Sports
Game Thoughts: Both teams come in needing a victory. UCLA shocked Oregon State on the road in 2010 with a close 17-14 victory. Both teams have had some trouble settling on a quarterback this season, but Oregon State, the slight favorite has the home field.
The Pick: Oregon State
California @ Washington (-3.0)
12:30 PM, Fox College Sports
Game Thoughts: Neither team has looked overly impressive early in the season with Washington struggling to close victories over FCS Eastern Washington and WAC opponent Hawaii. Washington comes off of a tough loss at Nebraska. California has played a little better with wins against Fresno State and Colorado. California has an edge with better defensive performance early in the season.
The Pick: California
USC @ Arizona State (-3.0)
7:15 PM, ESPN
Game Thoughts: USC has won a couple of close games against Minnesota and Utah and sailed to an easier victory over Syracuse. Arizona State has been up and down early this season with a big overtime win against Missouri and a loss to Illinois. USC's defense has performed better early this season than they did last year. Arizona State is susceptible to a good passing game.
The Pick: USC
Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona
Game Thoughts: Arizona has struggled mightily against Oklahoma State and Stanford the last two weeks and now faces a third straight top 10 opponent. After a season opening loss to LSU, Oregon bounced back with dominating wins over over-matched Nevada and FCS foe Missouri State. Arizona, though, has not played well on defense in any of their three games, including giving up a 77% completion percentage to FCS team Northern Arizona. They have been one dimensional on offense with the passing game accounting for nearly 87% of their total offense.
The Pick: Oregon
Friday, September 23, 2011
Fast forward 15 months and the same problems that plagued the league in June 2010 are still causing problems. In 2010, after a last minute deal involving a wide array of business interests both inside and outside the Big 12 conference, we heard Joe Castigliano, Oklahoma Athletic Director tell the world, "We’re going forward with the belief that we’ll stay together. Probably argue that this group will be closer than it’s ever been, but time will tell. The conference will examine the contractual relationships that would bind us together.”
Later, to show the newfound unity of the reduced Big 12, we learned that the exit fees for leaving would now be even higher as proof that the conference was on solid footing.
As the Big 12 negotiates their new strategy for saving the conference just more than a year later, we are, once again being told that the new terms of the deal will create stability by enforcing even stricter terms on teams leaving. Yahoo reports that the remaining nine teams in the conference have "'agreed' to give a six-year grant of their first- and second-tier television rights to the Big 12 for the next six years. That means all revenue from the top television games—shown currently on networks owned by ABC/ESPN and Fox—would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school bolts to another league."
Um, excuse me? Isn't this what we were told last year? Weren't we told in 2010 that the teams remaining had agreed on a deal that would handcuff the teams together for at least 6 more years? Yeah, to quote Dr. Phil "how'd that work out for ya Big 12?"
If they stay together, good for them, it keeps regional rivalries somewhat intact. Strong conferences are good for college football. Unstable conferences? Well, we see what that does, turns the whole world of college athletics upside down.
But anyone who thinks that these new "handcuffs" are going to keep the league stable are kidding themselves. You cannot make people happy by obligating them to a failing relationship.
If a man is running around having affairs and his wife discovers the affair, can he force her to stay with him simply by making leaving unattractive? Sure. But will she be happy while doing so? Absolutely not! More importantly, if part of the terms that he offers her for staying include allowing him to continue the affairs, how likely is she to say "wow, thank you so much for staying, please, have as many affairs as you like!"? Not likely at all to say such a thing.
Yet, here the Big 12 is telling the world that they have resolved their differences and will now be stronger than ever. And we are supposed to believe this story? Haven't we heard this all before? Of course we have.
The real root of the problem is the root that almost tore the conference apart in 2010; it is the root that caused Texas A&M to bolt for the SEC; it is the root that caused Oklahoma to look for a new conference to call home. The root is simple, one school receives a proportionally larger share than any other in the conference.
Today, Texas, magnanimous as ever, agreed to share in tier 1 and tier 2 television rights without the weighted share that they are currently receiving. Oklahoma also agreed to a change in this policy which will cost them some money.
What was Texas unwilling to compromise on? Yep, The Longhorn Network. On Thursday, Deloss Dodds, Texas Athletic Director, said that the network is non-negotiable.
And therein will lay the future crumbling of the Big 12. As other schools find out that there is very little interest in their own individual networks and that there is no way for them to ever make up the difference in the monetary gap, they will get antsy. And, there will be another fracture in the conference. The next time may be the final death knell of the conference.
What about that "handcuff" that will tie the teams together for 6 more years? Simple. The deal will say that the conference will retain the rights to the television monies of schools for the entirety of the contract. So how will the schools get around this handcuff? Disband the conference. You cannot pay money to a conference that does not exist. POOF, problem solved.
As long as Texas gets their own special deals, the Big 12 is doomed to fail. As Castiglione said after the near break-up in 2010, time will tell.
The DT's have had little luck pressuring passers as the Wildcats allow an average of 300.3 yards per game through the air. The tackles have no sacks and just 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Ducks have had been better at stopping the pass, however, allowing just 145.0 yards per game passing.
Neither of the teams have been particularly effective against the run. Both Arizona and Oregon do not use their defensive tackles as pass rushers. The Duck defensive tackles may have some advantage as the Arizona running game has been particularly weak at 55.0 yards per game. Nonetheless, this is still a draw between the two units.
Based on production and experience, the edge here goes to the Ducks. There has been a little more productivity and the Ducks have more game experience at the position.
Stuckey leads the LB corps with 14 tackles and 1 TFL. Alonso, in 2 games has 11 tackles and 0.5 TFL while Kaddu has 11 tackles and 1 sack. Lokombo has 10 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 67 yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. Watch for emerging freshman Rodney Hardrick who made an impression with 3 tackles and 2 TFL's last week.
The Wildcats have the experience and the productivity from their two former JC transfer linebackers. Though the Wildcats have been gashed in the running game, the linebackers are doing their job; making tackles.
As a unit, the Ducks are giving up only 145.0 yards per game through the air and are filled with All-America candidates in Boyett and Harris.
It is no secret that the Ducks have had a lot of very talented players in the defensive backfield and this year is no different.
Arizona: The Wildcats have faced two top 10 teams in a row and given up plenty of yards both through the air and on the ground. They are anchored by a new starting defensive tackle and two new starters at defensive end. Their is some stability in the middle, but the Wildcats have been unable to stop the passing game and running game.
Oregon: Much has been made of the Ducks struggles to stop the run, but there is a little bit of mis-perception. Only one of the three teams had a good day carrying the ball. Though all three gained yards, LSU and Missouri State averaged 3.6 and 3.4 yards per carry respectively. The Ducks are significantly better at stopping the pass than Arizona.
SCORE PREDICTION: Arizona will score some points; likely more than the 14 and 10 points they have mustered the last two weeks. The question is, will they be able to outscore Oregon? The Ducks have balance on offense and have had success against the pass on defense. Oregon's defensive weakness, stopping the run, is also Arizona's offensive weakness as their running game has been nearly non-existent. Nick Foles is an NFL caliber QB and his arm will keep the team in the game for a while. However, this Arizona team is not as good (yet) as last years team. They may get there by the end of the season, but right now, they just do not have the firepower.
Final: 38-24 Oregon
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I will give a slight edge here to the Wildcats. Nick Foles will be a pro next season and has played well even when behind against top 10 teams. However, this is a very close battle.
This one isn't even close. The Ducks have depth beyond belief at running back.
Based on production the edge here goes to 'Zona. Criner is a known commodity and Buckner has really stepped up so far this season.
Though the line has been somewhat maligned early this season, they have done their jobs well; opening holes for running backs and protecting quarterbacks. The Duck offensive line has made some noticeable mistakes, but they are certainly working better as a group than Arizona at this point in time.
Though there is not much productive capacity for comparison, Oregon actually utilizes a tight end and has a returning All Pac-12 player in Paulson. I would expect Oregon to get him involved in the game plan this week and use some new sets to take advantage of the skills at this position.
|John Walls with George Crace during 2004 Championship Season|
John Walls was in 8th grade when he was diagnosed with leukemia yet many expected him to play varsity as a freshman; he was that good. More importantly, as Wilsonville was still a fairly small, tight knit community in 2004, the high school players knew John and they knew his father Ned. Ned Walls is a hard guy to miss. Ned played offensive line at Central Washington, stands around 6'3" and weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. As a police officer, his presence was known to all in Wilsonville.
John could either become a distraction or a motivation. In life, you just never know which way people will respond; especially high school kids who sometimes find it difficult to face the concept of mortality. Empathy is a difficult task for young teen-aged boys to grasp.
I am reminded that the Ducks faced a similar adversity. On July 13, 2008, heralded defensive back recruit Todd Doxey, on an outing with his team mates, jumped into the McKenzie River. Also not worrying about human frailty, Doxey was not using a flotation device. Just a few hours later, Doxey was pronounced dead at McKenzie Willamette Hospital in nearby Springfield.
This was a stunning blow to many of his team mates that could have ripped apart the fabric of the team. In mid 2008, many people thought maybe the team had lost focus. The Ducks floundered a bit during the middle of the season as it struggled to find it's identity. Nonetheless, by the end of that season, the Duck football team began to gel finsihing the regular season with a blowout victory over arch-rival Oregon State. The victory spoiled the Rose Bowl Dreams of Beaver players and fans.
The win did something more, though, it taught a team what it could do when faced with adversity.
A large core group of Doxey's signing class were vital components in two consecutive Pac-10 Championships. The team that went to the Rose Bowl and the National Championship Game were heavily influenced by the class of 2007. Players like Casey Matthews, Kenny Rowe, Terrell Turner, Drew Davis and Jeff Maehl were all members of that signing class. They drew together through adversity... but none would ever forget their fallen team mate.
|Maehl pays tribute to Doxey after scoring. (Getty Images)|
The 2004 Wilsonville Wildcats were in a strange place. They were including a team mate who could not play in all of their preparations. John was as much a part of that team as anyone; but there was a difference, John's number was on their helmets; the season had been dedicated to John and his fight.
I once told John of the perfect analogy from the 2004 Tour de France:
Wow... if today's stage at the Tour de France isn't the
PERFECT analogy for so much that happens in life. It was,
quite literally, an uphill battle. Because he was the
leader, Lance started last in this uphill time trial; two
minutes behind the 2nd place rider.... Lance passed him
going up hill.... when he did the other rider (an Italian
named Basso) looked over but Lance kept his focus on what
was MOST important... what was ahead of him... he didn't
even glance at the other rider... he ended up demolishing
everyone in the stage all but assuring himself of the
With the same grit, stamina, attitude and belief, John, you
can win your race...
Live strong, STAY strong and always believe!
The Wilsonville football team approached the season with a similar focus and determination. Their coach, George Crace, did a masterful job of reminding them of the humility that kept them grounded while directly confronted with human frailty every day. Every day they put on their helmets they were reminded that their friend; their team mate, was fighting a much more difficult battle than they could ever face. No opponent on the field could ever be as fearsome as John's opponent. And John was fighting like a mad man; like a full back ramming his way into the end zone, John was determined to beat leukemia.
Much like Oregon used adversity to grow stronger and reach heights no one knew possible, Wilsonville also reached a major plateau. The school did not exist until 1995. In 2004, Wilsonville capped off a perfect season with a 37-13 victory over arch-rival Sherwood in the State Championship game. They won with John Walls by their side.
In remembering Todd Doxey and the impact his death had on the team, Danny O'Neill said "His [Doxey] death affected the other players in a very deep way. I think myself and others were surprised by the response of the players, not just at the memorial service. Jeff [Maehl] still talks about it. Todd Doxey is not the first player to die in a program [but] not all programs have responded in such a way."
Two teams faced with a similar circumstance, both achieving extraordinary heights in honor of their team mates. But John Walls was alive to fight, his number forever emblazoned on the helmets of his team mates; and his fight would be incredible.
|Wilsonville Helmet with John Walls number|
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
From the beginning, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has preached equality. In selling the Los Angeles area teams on the concept of Expansion 2010, Scott was able to garner a major concession from the two power brokers: equal revenue sharing. In doing so, Scott laid the groundwork for the most lucrative television deal in college football history. Along the way, the then Pac-10 flirted with the concept of a Pac-16.
During an 11th hour bargaining session, Texas took a concept gleaned from their discussions with Scott and tried to get rich on their own. They brokered a deal that temporarily salvaged the Big 12. However, in order to make that deal, they were able to convince nine other schools (after the defection of Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big 10) that they deserved a larger share of the pie. They were further able to convince the league that, though the Big 10, SEC and Pac-12 now all had their own league-wide networks, the Big 12 did not need one; only Texas would need a network. How they were able to convince people of this is beyond me, it just does not make sense.
Fast forward a year, and the Big 12 is about to implode all because Texas felt it deserved a larger share of the pie. They squeezed everyone out. And that angered some folks in College Station. So much so, that they decided to leave and let everyone else fight amongst themselves.
This set off a frenzy. Texas, being Texas, though, continued to look for a partner willing to let them keep their own network while taking an unequal proportion of the conference television money. What they have found; no one is willing to sell their souls to the Texas Longhorns. First the ACC told them thanks but no thanks. Now the Pac-12 has told them they are not interested in their bloated expectations.
At this point, Texas is left scrambling to mend fences. The conference they have nearly destroyed for two consecutive years is in shambles. Oklahoma was set to leave taking Oklahoma State with them. Missouri, they were likely gone too leaving four teams with nowhere to go...
Where does the conference go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. They probably look to add 3 teams with the promise of better paydays to get back to 12 teams. My guess would be looking to add BYU and two of their old Southwest Conference members, Houston and SMU. But as long as Texas gets a bigger share of the revenue pie, these problems will continue. Until Texas is willing to cede control of the Longhorn Network over to the Big 12, the Big 12 is going to lack any stability. At this point, Oklahoma's demand for a new commissioner is a prudent move; the times have passed Beebe. What the conference should have done last year is looked for a conference network that allowed a Texas Sports Network but not controlled by the Longhorns. Instead, they gave the keys to a Lamborghini to a driver so enthralled with speed that they forgot to look for other cars. What resulted is a crash of almost epic proportions.
With a final non-conference game against Missouri State, the Ducks head into Pac-12 play with confidence, but questions. With the season opening loss, most observers had considered the defensive performance to be a very good effort. The last two weeks, however, have seen the Ducks "D" susceptible to the run.
Nonetheless, after Missouri State marched down the field for a score, the Ducks answered with 56 consecutive points to dismantle the Bears.
Along the way, fans witnessed an Autzen Stadium record 90 yard touchdown run by the incomparable LaMichael James. James, now just a single rushing touchdown shy of tying Derek Loville for the career school record, put on a show for the hometown fans rushing for 204 yards on just 12 carries.
AJ Jacobson and John Copp share their thoughts on the performance with their Grades and Analysis. A very fair take on the overall performance Saturday.
Alex McDougall got some GREAT in-game photos take a look at the Oregon-Missouri Game Photos.
The Missouri State game saw a few more visitors, both official and unofficial as Brett Bafaro made another trip down for the game this time joined by Oshay Dunmore, Stephen Amoako, his twin brother Eric and standout 2013 Running Back Thomas Tyner. It appeared all enjoyed the atmosphere as they were very vocal after they returned home about how much they enjoyed their trip.
Check out the recap from Oshay Dunmore's official visit. As for the Amoako twins, Eric had this to say about his trip "I love Oregon though! Can't wait to live here!"
Recruiting is just starting to really pick up. The Ducks have 8 commitments already and the class is expected to be a full class of nearly 22-25 kids, stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for all your recruiting news!
VOLLEYBALL TEAM STILL ON A ROLL
The Oregon Volleyball team moved to 9-1 on the season with a sweep over the weekend of Arizona and Arizona State taking Arizona out 3-0 and easing by Arizona State 3-1. The successes have taken the Ducks to #15 in the national rankings.
This week, they head to Colorado and Utah as part of a 4 game road trip before returning home for home matches with Cal and Stanford.
*-Women's soccer fell to 5-4-2 with disappointing 2-1 loss to Florida International. The Women continue their season this weekend with a Friday night home match (7:00 PM) against Utah.
*-Fall Golf Kicked off this week as well with the men and women both playing in tournaments.
*-Cross Country has it's next meet October 1st.
And that should about cover it for the week that was in Duck Sports.