Friday, August 30, 2013

Quick Take: Nicholls State Defense


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Chris Bermond, LB, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Toren Joseph, DB, 6-2, 191, Jr.; Byron Cobb, DB, 5-10, 176, Jr.; Lorenza Young, DT, 6-2, 275 Sr.

Key Losses: Jordan Piper, LB; Kerry Guidry, LB; Rashar Knight, LB/DE

Key Arrivals: Geoffrey Hebert, LB, 6-3, 220

When you give up as many points as the Colonels and lose 10 games in resounding fashion, it is typically easy to find weaknesses. In the case of the Colonels, though, there are a couple of significant losses to this otherwise porous defense.  

"LB Jordan Piper is the biggest loss on defense. While the defense was extremely poor, this guy played like an All-American and was an all-conference performer," Renois said. "He tied a school record with 23 tackles in a single game last season and finished with 107 total tackles last season."

The Colonels also lost their top pass rusher with the graduation of Rashar Knight (10 tackles for loss and 4 sacks) and a starting nose tackle.

There are some glimmers of hope with the return of Bermond, the second leading tackler from a year ago. The Colonels also return their top two pass defenders with Cobb and Joseph.

Early Defense Prediction: This is a defense that struggled against every non-NAIA team they played last season and that trend will continue with Oregon. The Colonels play a 3-3-5 defense but just do not have the size or speed to contend with a top-5 caliber team.

Expect a lot of risk taking on defense as the Colonels attempt to make some big plays at the line of scrimmage and try to swarm the running game early. Unfortunately for Nicholls, they just do not have the horses on the line to make this strategy work.

Mariota will have plenty of time to throw if needed and the running game should flourish against this undermanned defense.

The defense for the Colonels recorded just 11 sacks and 11 interceptions last season, don't expect them to generate much pressure on the Oregon offense.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quick Take: Nicholls State Offense


"Can the defense improve dramatically from its dreadful showing in 2012. On third downs, opposing offenses had a success rate of 50 percent and on fourth downs it was 70 percent, Renois said.

"There was little to no pressure from the front seven which left an inexperience secondary exposed. The hope is a transfer or two up front and overall experience will lead to better defensive play, at least in conference games."


Returning Starters: 8

Key returners: Marcus Washington, RB, 5-11, 214, Senior; Nick Scelfo, TE, 6-4, 235, Jr.; Eric Alt, C, 6-6, 335, Sr.;, Josh Hanberry, WR, 5-7, 157, Jr.

Key Losses: Landry Klann, QB; Gerald Gruenig C, Jesse Turner, RB

Key Arrivals: Hunter Alleman, OL, 6-4, 280

"Incumbent starting quarterback Landry Klann is being redshirted with shoulder surgery and Beaux Hebert, son of former NFL quarterback Bobby Hebert, is listed as starter," Renois told Duck Sports Authority. "But there may be a transfer coming soon. Hebert has also dealt with injury and has limited experience in four years in the program," Renois continued.

The offensive line loses just one player from last season, but clearly when a team goes 1-10 without a conference win in two consecutive seasons, just about every area is one that could stand improvement.

Early Offense Prediction: This is a team that struggled to score points in just about every game. Against Oregon State, a team who defeated the Colonels by a 77-3 score, the Colonels attempted to throw the ball almost exclusively lining up in a four wide receiver set for most of the game.

Largely due to the Beavers size and athletic advantage, Nicholls State looked to make short quick passes to their leading receiver, running back Jesse Turner. The Colonels had some success completing nearly 61 percent of their pass attempts for 174 yards. Nonetheless, they were unable to sustain any momentum and struggled with the Beaver defense most of the day.

Expect Nicholls State to make a similar strategy move against the Ducks. With three new linebackers starting for the Ducks, this is the only offensive game plan that makes sense. Nonetheless, the Duck defense is even faster and will have few problems stopping the Colonels.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beyond Flock Talk: Manziel Suspension

My opinion will not be very popular amongst Duck fans, but such is life.

The NCAA got the Manziel situation right. Frr a change, the NCAA acted swiftly and in a manner that was as strong a they could possibly act given the circumstances.

Before delving deeper into those thoughts, though, first I am continually amazed at how much Duck fans seem to care about Manziel and his exploits. More directly, I am surprised at the animosity so many Duck fans have towards this young man.

Maybe their vitriol is simply about reaffirming their admiration of Oregon's own quarterback. But it still makes little sense. Has Manziel been perfect? Absolutely not; he has made his share of mistakes. None of them, however, have been egregious enough to think that this is not just a young kid working his way through life the best he knows how and making some mistakes along the way.

We have all made them. The only difference is that most of us did not have the glare of the Heisman spotlight following our every move and every word. I dare most to respond any better than Manziel has responded.

Most would fail.

Oregon fans need to also be a little more cautious when insulting the NCAA for this action being too "light" in their eyes. While Duck fans have insulated themselves well against most of the criticism levied by national analysts over the past two plus years, the reality is that most people outside of Oregon believe the Ducks got off easy.

Being too close to the situation tends to distort your vision.

But before anyone gets high and mighty about how badly the NCAA screwed up look at the facts:

1) The memorabilia dealers refused to talk to the NCAA investigators.
2) The accusations are that Manziel accepted cash payments.
3) Bank records showed no abnormal deposits around the time of the autograph sessions.

As Duck fans reminisce on the Cam Newton situation where the father admitted shopping Newton's signature around, yet no punishment was handed down, this is a win for the NCAA. Despite having no evidence that Manziel accepted payments for his signatures, they were able to get Manziel's attorney to agree to a half game suspension.

This sets a tone. Athletes should know better than to sign autographs for collectors; it will put them square in the cross hairs of the NCAA enforcement team.

As for Manziel's attornet alleging that nothing inappropriate happened, well, that is a lot of "legalese" on their part. It's one thing for players to sign autographs outside a game; or at team sponsored "fan fest" days. When a player takes matter into his own hands and signs thousands of autographs for a known broker, he has crossed a line.

Should this line even exist? That is a different matter. One I will not take on at the moment.

By accepting the punishment, the Manziel family and Texas A&M football team get to move on with the 2013 season. The NCAA? They get to point to a quick resolution that sets a precedent. Signing autographs for a broker, regardless of receipt of money for the signatures is now a violation.

Precedents re how changes are made. The NCAA is changing and we will all have to work through their growing pains.

I just don't get why so many Oregon fans care so much.

Looking ahead to Saturday

A while back, I took a First Look at Nicholls State... with that game fast approaching, here is a refresher course.

The Colonels of Nicholls State, a squad that hails from Thibodaux, Louisiana, come off of their second consecutive 1-10 season. The only win for the Colonels last season was against NAIA foe Evangel.

There were few real positives from the season as most games were not even competitive. In their 10 losses, the Colonels managed just 122 total points while surrendering nearly 41 points per game.

At the time I reached out to Teddy Renois, from the Daily Comet and Houma Courier for some insight into the Colonels football team. As the new beat writer for Nicholls Athletics, Renois had extensive coverage of the team during Spring camp.
Renois was kind enough to answer a few questions about the his take on a few topics related to this game.

Q: What is your take on the excitement level of the fans for this game considering their last game of 2012 was a 77-3 loss to Oregon State?

A: The fans are not excited for this game. They understand it is a money game and needed for the budget, but they are not excited about the prospects of another 70-point loss. I covered the final two conference games on last year's schedule and the little fan base this program has, dwindled considerably towards the end of last season.

Q: What are the expectations for Nicholls State in 2013?

A: Again, 2-20 over the last two years doesn't inspire much especially with several blowout losses in the mix. My hope is this team can win four games. They have two scheduled wins, but the program needs to win a couple of conference games to show improvement. Just being competitive would be good, but a win over a quality opponent would stir the interests of the fans again. Coach Stubbs may be off the hook for this season as the president is retiring on Aug. 1 and a new one is slated to be hired in October. That change in presidents may give him another year if his team can only beat the Division II and NAIA schools on his schedule.

Q: What do you see as the biggest losses for Nicholls State entering 2013?

A: Well, Klann had the most experience at quarterback so he is the biggest loss on offense. He threw for over 2,000 yards and gave them some consistency on that side of the ball while being under a heavy rush constantly. Also QB/RB/WR LaQuintin Caston missed most of last season with a collarbone injury, but he was their only true offensive weapon, and ended his career with 2,800 yards passing and 1,700 yards rushing. He started out as a triple option QB before Stubbs was hired, but Stubbs used him as the Wildcat QB the last two years.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eyes on the prize

Without the ability to be at practices, it is difficult for many of us to form opinions or even tell good stories.

Two years ago, prior to practices closing, as I sat at a summer afternoon practice, I watched Tony Washington toiling away by himself as he worked his way around an injury. I wrote an article about that day and posted it right here. Toiling in Obscurity was just one of what could be hundreds of similar stories.

This week the 2013 football season begins. While the outcome of the game is not very likely in question in week one, what is in question is just which players will burst into the attention of the average fan and which ones will contiunue to toil in obscurity.

One of the projected offensive line starters, Mana Greig, was a lightly recruited player out of high school. He lacked the ideal height of a college offense lineman and his lack of offers was plenty of proof. Over the years, Greig, like so many other young men, worked and struggled to become a better player. Saturday, he walks onto the field as a starting offensive lineman for one of the premier offenses in all of college football.

Remember, though, that Greig is just one of dozens of players on the Oregon roster who has worked very hard to become what he is today.

Remember that because on the other side of the field Saturday, Nicholls State will enter Autzen with its own cast of players who toil in obscurity for the sake of an education and, for some, their outside dreams of someday making it into the NFL.

Oftentimes fans, in their zeal to cheer for their home team, forget that both teams have some very unique characters who work just as hard. Nicholls State stands little chance of putting up much fight against the Ducks. At Duck Sports Authority, we covered the topic in a two part series called DSA Inside Edge which takes a look at the match-ups.

Despite the talent gap, though, one thing seems too frequently missed; the effort gap is considerably smaller. The Nicholls State administration sees it as an important piece of their athletic department puzzle to schedule on field demolitions to fund the rest of the department. Nicholls State, and dozens of similar schools do not have the luxury of a Phil Knight or an Al Reser. They exist to provide an opportunity to young men and women who otherwise would not receive an education precisely that opportunity.

Nicholls State plays their home games at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium; a stadium with a 12,800 seat capacity. That is a far cry from the 60,000 people that can squeeze into Autzen.

These young men will come to Autzen with their heads held high looking to compete and play to the best of their ability. And, as they head out of the Stadium Saturday, likely a team suffering a very large loss to open the season, will they retain their dignity?

That is a difficult question to answer. Having been on their end of slaughters when I played at Eastern Oregon, I can tell you that there is nothing fun about these games for either team. Yes, Duck fans will get a chance to cheer for guys like Dustin Haines and Lane Roseberry. But are those fleeting cheers worth the cost associated with this kind of game? Only a few people can answer that on Saturday,.

I doubt that they will answer honestly, however.

In the end, it is a chance for these young men to compete in a stadium that is unlike many on the West coast. Hopefully they can cherish some memories of the entire Autzen complex and dream of what might have been or could someday be in their own lives.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DSA Tailgate: 2013 Nicholls State Edition

Okay... that time has arrived... TAILGATE time!

So, we SHOULD have a Clear Wireless set up in time for the tailgate so that game viewing will not be a problem... and we have made an upgrade this year... 32 inch television for game days this year!

For those still unsure how to get there... we are at the WEST DYS entrance... as you enter, to your left is a grass field... we are at the WEST end of that field, very close to the goal posts... you can call me if you need guided in...

What: DSA Tailgate -Nicholls State
When: Aug. 31, 2013
Time: ~ 9:00AM local time depending on just how early we are allowed to get there... last time we were there at 4:00 AM
Where: DYS Parking Lot Space 223
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!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Flock Talk: What Took the NCAA so Long?

NCAA Gets One Right?

While it has been talked about in many circles, it felt important to add another voice to the chorus of those hailing the NCAA decision to grant Steven Rhodes immediate eligibility.

For those that do not know the story, Steven Rhodes is a Marine Corps veteran who, after serving his country, decided to play football at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This seems like a fairly simple process; Rhodes met all eligibility requirements for entry and had high enough test scores to be eligible.

But there was a hang-up. Like many in the Marine Corps, Rhodes played for an intramural squad while serving. First, let me say, that these are no joke for intramural squads. When I played in 29 Palms and later in Okinawa, there were rosters littered with former college football players. One of my team mates had played at Texas A&M.

Based on Rhodes' participation with this squad, he was deemed ineligible. This is a story oddly familiar to Duck fans after a failed attempt to have Nic Purcell granted eligibility after he played in an even less organized league.

While the need to protect college football from a sort of "development" league that could conceivably allow college teams to run "scout" teams is important, it seems as if the NCAA cannot use logic when making these determinations.

When a man is serving his country as a member of any branch of the military, there needs to be consideration and understanding of what these young men are putting on the line in defense of the nation. To essentially communicate that their "service is appreciated, but you must not participate in functions that might later risk your NCAA eligibility" is short sighted at best. At worst, it is an affront to every current and former member of the United States Military.

While the decision to deny Purcell eligibility based on his play in what amounted to a very watered down version of a semi-pro team in Australia for a few games fit with the concept of what the NCAA wanted to control, this decision made no sense at any level.

In the end, the NCAA made the correct decision to grant Rhodes his immediate eligibility. The question, though, is why it even took an appeal. Did they really get it right, or did they simply recognize an egregious mistake?

My money is on the latter.

Recruiting Update

This is the slow time in recruiting for Oregon. There have been no commitments for several weeks. Nonetheless, the Ducks did get a couple of prospects to set official visit dates.

One player that is looking increasingly more likely to end up a Duck, Tony James set his official visit for his only bye week during his senior season which happens to coincide with Oregon's home game against California. This is an important visit for the Ducks who are looking to add at least one more running back to the 2014 class. It looks like the Ducks also locked up official visits for Jaylen Johnson and Layth Friekh as well.

So, while there are no commitments to report, with the season set to open in just over a week, it looks like recruiting will begin to pick up more steam very soon.

As always, stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for all your updates.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Where Does Responsibility End?

So, I was listening to Sports Center tonight and heard two baseball "talking heads" address the Ryan Braun statement regarding his use of performance enhancing drugs during the 2011 season.

Mark Mulder, a former major league pitcher who pitched for my childhood favorite Oakland A's and Tim Kurkjian both talked about the statement and Braun's responsibility.

And, well, I have to say, that to hear people act as self-righteous as these two sometimes sends me over the edge when watching.

Newsflash: Ryan Braun does not owe anyone anything more than what he said. He has publicly apologized to his family, friends, team mates and fans for his denial and his actions. He has apologized to the man he slandered.

Beyond those apologies, he has no responsibility to be specific about what drugs he used, where he got them or how they were recommended. Kurkjian and Mulder are simply as wrong as they can be in this case.

Braun is serving a 65 game suspension. Braun has apologized to those that matter. Does it truly matter what he used or where he got it? I mean; really? It sounds to me like Mulder and Kurkjian are a little miffed because they feel they have some right to know every minute detail of a player's life. The reality is that they do not matter; and their knowledge is irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ready, set... wait?

Okay, just got my computer hooked up again. Despiute how organized we are sometimes a move completely discombobulates everything we thought we knew about ourselves.

Took until Monday late in the day to get our internet up and running right and then, the power cord for my computer was a no-show... finally got to it last night and we are up and running again...

More to come later...

Worked on the First Look for Arizona. They will have a tough time replacing Matt Scott, but Kadeem Carey and Austin Hill should help Rich Rod and the Wildcats to ease the pain of Matt Scott's graduation.

I am not sure it will be enough to upset the Ducks, but they get Oregon at the right time; after a physical Stanford game.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Birds of a feather

Just quick commentary about the Eagles and their seeming love of all former Duck players.

While I think that Maehl might be the one who sticks, keep in mind that Chip Kelly is trying to install a complicated offense in a place where what they are doing is completely foreign to the existing players.

Yes, I realize that, on some levels, the offense is not really complicated, but the tempo can be complicated as players try to read plays from the field.

In order to better facilitate the adoption of such a plan, it is imperative that the coach have players around who already know how everything in Chip Kelly's offense works. This is the reason he has guys like Will Murphy around.

Murphy showed a lot of heart as a walk-on and he is a tremendous locker room guy, and he may turn out to be a great pro receiver. Reality says, though, that many of the signings of former Ducks was about implementing a system.

There aren't 100 guys, about 30 of them "expendable," on an NFL roster. With the limited roster size, it becomes even more critical that there are some guys during training camp that can be like additional assistant coaches.

It is worth mentioning here that it is highly unlikely that the Eagles keep four quarterbacks on the 53 man roster. Unless the Eagles trade Nick Foles or Matt Barkley, that means that Dennis Dixon's tiem as an Eagle is probably limited as well.

Remember, the NFL is a business. Decisions are no longer about "feel good" stories; they are about business.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beyond First Look: UCLA

This week, tomorrow to be specific, we continue with our First Look series with an early look at what the Bruins lost from last season and what is expected of the returners.

UCLA is picked to win the South Division of the Pac-12 and there won't be any argument from me as I have also thought that they are probably the team to take that tight division race.

I still consider Arizona State a dark-horse because I like a lot of what they return, but they are going to run into some depth issues and maybe some consistency issues again this season. I think USC faces the same problem, though they have better front line talent than either UCLA or ASU.

Beyond that, though, I am intrigued to watch how Eddie Vanderdoes develops at UCLA.

Already it seems like some serious expectations are being heaped upon his shoulders. While he has the massive shoulders to bear such a burden, it makes me curious just how much he can take on to those shoulders.

Vanderdoes switched from Notre Dame to UCLA ostensibly due to a change in family circumstances. The early rumors that a member of his family became ill seem plausible based on the NCAA's decision to grant Vanderdoes immediate eligibility.

Vanderdoes is a young man. Despite his enormous physical gifts, he is still very young. How much can one young man take on mentally and still be effective? We might find out this season; or we might not.

Early reports out of Fall camp for the Bruins have Vanderdoes missing some practices due to a back ailment. Coach Mora has commented how important this time is to his development and his ability to contribute early and make an impact.

Combining his many demands, expectations and now being slowed by injury and you can only help but wonder if Vanderdoes might have had too much put on his plate at a fragile point in his maturation.

For the sake of  young man whose future is very bright, let's hope that his injury is minimal and his focus is strong heading into the season. There can be nothing worse to a young man with so much hope to have expectations unfulfilled. The pressure of that weight can be greater than the original expectations.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fock Talk: Out of the dark ages

This week, for the first, and possibly last time, the University of Oregon provided a guided tour of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex as it is formally dubbed. Many simply refer to it as the football operations center. The tour took a little over two hours with Jeff Hawkins, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration and Operations, leading the tour.

Along the way Hawkins touched on the many influences behind not only the original concept but each individual detail. There is not a single detail that was not heavily considered prior to its inclusion. From the glass facade designed to help reduce the energy use of the building, to the murals in the parking garage and everything in between, this Taj Mahal of football facilities was thought out in immaculate detail.

Some of those details, though, have drawn the ire of outsiders and even insiders, with what they describe as opulence. Yes, there is Italian carera tile in the showers. Yes, the floors of the 25,000 square foot weight room are made of a special Brazilian hardwood. There are plenty of other fine details that are more expensive than the simpler materials might cost. But is that really the point? Is the only argument available to people that it cost too much? If so, there is a lot missing from the argument.

This week, Duck Sports Authority takes a special look at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex from the perspective of why it was needed and where the inspirations originated. Next week, we will conclude our two part series with a look of a bigger, more important purpose behind the building.

First, though, let us take a look at the building and its origins.

This was not a haphazardly constructed concept, nor was it arbitrarily designed. There was a purpose behind each portion of the building and every detail was thought out in advance. The design was not simply some architect with an unlimited budget creating a vision and then instructing a contractor to build his vision. This was what Hawkins referred to as a "design build" concept. In other words, the design was fluid and had input from several important people.

More importantly, nothing inside our outside of this building was done in haste. The complex has been researched for nearly seven years leading up to its construction. Facilities personnel, coaches, administrators and donors toured facilities nationwide to get a feel for the best and the worst pieces of each design.

"After each one, we asked what would we do different to make it better," Hawkins said.

This rolling tour included every major hall of fame, football facilities at places like Texas A&M, LSU, Cowboys Stadium. The tour was not, however, restricted to football facilities as the group also looked at places like Oracle, Google and, of course, Nike for more inspiration as to what constitutes the best-of-the best in the world of personnel development and care.

Why the need? This is the question we see from people outside the program. Many people look at the facilities that Oregon already has and wonders why the need for more. They see an "arms race" and nothing more.

The Casanova Center, former home to the football staff and players, was completed in 1991 and opened that summer. That is over 22 years ago. In the time since its opening, the university had nearly tripled the number of staff that occupy the building while also adding several sports to the athletic department. Simply put, the Casanova Center was not designed to house the number of people who were now occupying the space.

"We were double and sometimes triple purposing rooms," Hawkins continued.

That is a lot of tight quarters.

Prior to media day interviews, some media members were taken to the old football team meeting room in the Casanova Center for a NCAA compliance seminar. While the seminar was educational, so too was sitting in the cramped space that used to serve over 100 players plus up to 30 coaches and staff members. The space was tight for the 30 or so media members who were in attendance, it is difficult to fathom how tight it was for a Pac-12 football team.

While Oregon received plenty of attention for their facilities; an upgrade to Autzen Stadium; the Moshofsky Center; the Jacqua Student Development Center; little attention was paid to the woefully inadequate facilities that housed the rest of what the football program did off the field. A nice locker room is great, but you cannot have meetings and football education in the locker room; that requires space.

Oregon's old team meeting room
As the media left the compliance seminar, already signs of how the new football operations building was positively impacting other sports were evident. Coaches from other sports were moving into new offices. With smiles plastered on their faces, their enthusiasm could be felt throughout the building.

Look at the picture and you can see that the prior facilities were not just cramped, but outdated.

One fact that struck close to home revolved around the new dining hall. Attached to the hall, which serves all student-athletes, not just football players, is a high end, fine restaurant caliber kitchen. While this seems pretty mundane, it must be pointed out that prior to this, when players were served in the Casanova Center, the food had to be shipped from the kitchen across campus.

Craig Pintens, Senior Associate Athletic Director in charge of Marketing & Public Relations, was also on hand to provide important details. "Transporting the food cost as much as making the food," he said.

That is a powerful thought.

Certainly all of the design aspects were not created simply due to space. The magnetic "dry erase" type walls throughout the fourth floor, which houses the coaches offices along with the locker room, were used out of creativity. Often times, our inspirations come while passing one another, even in a hall. Thoughts that are fluid and constructive can immediately, at any point inside, be shared. It's a small detail, but important.

Another detail is the mechanisms inside the locker room. The locker doors slide inside like pocket doors; the benches for the players are integrated so as to create better cohesion and team unity. And, where Chip Kelly's influence is felt, it also keeps the room de-cluttered.

While there was a lot of expense put into each detail, the need was critical. Space was a problem and the gracious generosity of Phil and Penny Knight solved a pervasive problem that would not go away anytime soon.

Frank Loyd Wright once said that "space is the breath of art." Those words could not be truer either literally or figuratively in the case of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. The space itself, that is art. But art is deeper, not just the aesthetics of the building. Art is minds at work creating a better product. The reason innovative companies keep moving forward is that their space generates creativity. With this building the Oregon athletic department and football team have built something guaranteed to continue their creativity and make an even better community.

From the Outside

A quick pointer to those fans from other teams who might happen to run across some of my ramblings... and that's what this blog is... my personal ramblings as they relate to Oregon Ducks athletics as well as some thoughts that originate from my formal writing for Duck Sports Authority.

If there is something you see that seems factually inaccurate, I have no problem with corrections. But that would pertain to facts, like statistics, or names.

Opinions, on the other hand, by their very nature, cannot be inaccurate. IF there is something that your team looks like from the outside, take that as a learning point.

As an example, I am well aware that other programs have a bad view of Oregon fans. I get it, I have seen some of the boorish behavior that they consider representative of all Oregon fans. For that reason, I have taken it upon myself to ensure that I am the opposite.

As I was leaving the media room after the Stanford game last season, I stopped and talked to a couple of parents of Stanford players and some boosters. It is most difficult to have class in that situation, and I feel that being gracious in that situation can help change what others think of our fans.

By that same nature, I am also cognizant of the fact that a very few fans are the ones who have given Oregon the bad reputation, so the majority of us that are not boorish have to work extra hard to overcome that stigma.

So, if you happen to be a fan of another team, and on this blog I say things that seem harsh, keep in mind, that is how your team might be viewed from the outside.

If you wish to take offense with those opinions, I actually have no problem with discussing the topic; but don't come to my personal blog and think you are going to make your point by getting into a childish pissing match. The great thing about a personal blog... I can delete anything I want and do not have to explain my actions to anyone.

Having already completed my look at the softer part of the 2013 schedule, it is unlikely that I am going to have to face too many issues with this as the rest of the games I have yet to look at are for teams that have a lot of solid foundation and success in their recent backgrounds.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pre Flock Talk


Tomorrow Flock Talk comes out. It is the first in a two part series covering the new Football Operations Center. Yes, it has been covered to death, but there is still more that needs to be covered, in my opinion.

So far I have seen two types of responses to the building. The first are those in awe who appreciate its beauty, the opposite side of the coin has shown the people who feel that any spending is probably too much unless every penny spent on a college campus is directly funnelled to an academic department

In between these two topics are a plethora of other possibilities that seem to get ignored. Why? Well, it probably goes back to Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent thoughts.

On one side of the coin there are the unimaginative writers who simply look at the sheer aesthetic beauty of the building and regurgitate what they saw on the tour of the facilities. On the other? Those who consider anyone outside of newspapers and television news "non-journalists" who do not understand the technicalities of their responsibility. Nevermind that many of us have read the same journalism text books and understand exactly what they learned; we just do not understand.

To an extent, that may be true. I cannot be inside the consciousness of another man. I cannot feel his past and have that past affect my interpretation of journalism textbooks. Nonetheless, the cynicism is a corporate objective designed to maximize advertising dollars.

None of this means that I feel myself any more qualified than any other writer to tell a story. I am simply telling the story I know from my perspective. This story has the same value and validity as any member of traditional mass media and it is also something I truly enjoy.

So, the first part talks about the road that led to the building. That comes out tomorrow. Next Friday, I go deeper into numbers. There is another story to be told that, once again, seems to be ignored.

I started writing about the Ducks in this format two years ago. Much has changed over that time, but much has also stayed the same. If there is story that is being talked about, I want to see if there is another side to the story I can tell.

With the opening of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, I feel as if that opportunity has arrived. The relative freedom I have in my weekly editorial piece we call Flock Talk gives me the ability to be flexible in topics. I am grateful for that because that becomes a platform to share my own personal thoughts on a wider scale.

Hope you all enjoy tomorrow's Flock Talk

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beyond First Look: Washington State's Mike Leach has a LONG hill to climb

Tomorrow we take a look at Washington State in our continued "First Look" series. The series is intended solely to take a glance at what the team returns, what they lost and some basic early thoughts on the offense and defense.

The article itself will go over the specifics tomorrow. But, wow, this team does not look to have very much promise for 2013. And how in the world does a college football team average 29.1 yards per game rushing?

I know Mike Leach is known as the master of the Air Raid offense, but you have GOT to run the ball in the Pac-12 to be competitive. No, they don't have to be like Oregon and average 300 yards per game on the ground, but when Kenjon Barner gains more yards against USC than the Cougar leading rusher does for an ENTIRE season, there is a problem.

The problem is the offensive line. Putting it as nicely as possible; they are terrible. The offensive line allowed a conference worst 57 sacks last season... that is atrocious by any standard.

Mike Leach is learning that the Pac-12 conference is a lot better than it is sometimes given credit for, you cannot just come in and throw the ball all over the field willy-nilly and win big. Part of the reason he got away with some things at Texas Tech had to do with the most important word in real estate: location.

By being in Texas, he had access to one of the deepest talent pools in the nation. Plenty of big strong linemen to be had in Texas and he was close enough to the Southeast to get some big strong guys that could protect his quarterback. Not such an easy task in Pullman; especially in Pullman. The place is difficult to get to and their facilities are woefully inadequate. Sure, former Oregon Athletic Director Bill Moos is doing some pretty impressive things with their limited resources, but it is an uphill battle for sure.

And the battle gets tougher with every year. IT seems the entire Pac-12 is upgrading and Washington State simply cannot keep up. It kind of mimics what is happening on the field each week.

Will the Cougars be better this year than last? Probably. But that "better" won't be much. Incremental at best. I am not sure how long of a leash Leach is on in Pullman, but if the season turns ugly early, there could be some talk of a quick hook and ending the experiment that was the Leach hiring.

Leach was supposed to bring his personality to the recruiting trail and tear it up, so far, he hasn't really done much to improve the talent and depth of the football team.

Expect some rumblings about Leach's future if the Cougars struggle again this season... and if they cannot manage more than 30 yards per game on the ground, they will be in for another long season.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Early thoughts on practice reports

I hear that USC fans are pretty much in an uproar over the new practice policies. You know the policy where they are allowed to watch practices for the first three weeks of Fall camp and then as the season approaches the competition practices will be closed? Um, welcome to our world!

The fact is that I don't even particularly care that practices are closed. Do I wish there was some limited access to Duck Sports Authority? Of course I do! I think AJ does the best job of any media member really breaking down the practices and analyzing position battles, etc., without giving away any secrets about the playbook or game plan. But, alas, that is not to be.

A change has occurred, though, with the Oregon Athletic Department adding Rob Moseley to the mix as an internal beat writer. His addition is ironic to a point, but at least we are getting some tidbits out of practice. Nonetheless, the reports will be, for the most part, benign.

That will be especially true early on as the position battles have yet to really begin. Plenty of people look the part in shorts and helmets; let's wait until they get the pads on and have some full contact before we start anointing anyone as the next big thing!

Through the first two practices we have herd quite a bit about teh reliability of Erik Dungy who has some of the best hands on the team. This is a good sign. Dungy will likely enter the season at number two on the depth chart behind Josh Huff. If the early reports are true, that gives the Ducks two deep plus players in the wide receiver corps. In fact, with guys like Chance Allen and Dwayne Stanford (who may or may not be available due to injury), the Duck wide receivers might be the deepest most talented group in quite some time for the Ducks.

De'Anthony Thomas only adds to that. We know what Thomas provides. The questions will come with Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and Ayele Forde. Tyner is fast, there is no doubt about that. The roster lists him at 200 pounds, but he has indicated that he is closer to 220 pounds. If he and Marshall can combine to take a majority of the carries, expect Thomas to continue in his tazer "slash" role.

In fact, Mark Helfrich has already indicated that he is confident enough in the other running backs that Thomas will indeed play a similar role to previous seasons... only he will be more active in all facets of the game.

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent some talking to former Duck quarterback and current broadcaster Mike Jorgensen. While my main focus of the conversation was his thoughts on the new football operations center, we also had a great conversation about Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich and football in general.

Yesterday I mentioned that he knew from the very first practice that the program was different with Kelly. He also talked, though, about Kelly's stubbornness and how he feels Helfrich will be more flexible in some ways which is a good thing.

The coaches saw what we saw at times last year, linebackers crashing the line of scrimmage while DB's were in coverage... leaving gaping holes down the middle of the field; but Chip was stubborn. Especially against Stanford. He expects Helfrich to take advantage of those types of situations in 2013 by going to Colt Lyerla more often and more throws across the middle.

If there is going to be more passing this year, it won't be because Helfrich is a former quarterback coach and wants to pass, it will be because the defense is giving Oregon those plays... and Helfrich will take whatever he can from opposing defenses; as will Scott Frost.

Tomorrow, I will talk a littel bit more about the early practice reports.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Media Day Extravaganza!

Okay, that is the end of a very long day indeed.

Media started with a different aura around the room today. First, we met with new Chief Compliance Officer Jody Sykes and Bill Clever conducting a rules seminar for the media.

While there are some very strange rules that must be complied with by the athletic department, the number of situations that may result in a student-athlete being declared ineligible is staggering.

Most of the time, these situations are resolved within hours. As an example. Prior to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game between Oregon and UCLA, Fox spent time interviewing players from both teams. As part of the interview, Fox asked the players to tell people to "watch on Fox" which became an endorsement of a Fox television! That's right, every player from both teams that made statements on camera were technically ruled ineligible for a brief period of time!

That, folks, is the labyrinth of NCAA rules that must be looked at for multitudes of situations.

Ever noticed that the camera crowd doesn't pan down to visiting recruits? They can't because that could be construed as publicizing the recruit. Recruits cannot be interviewed while in attendance either.

If we are at a prospects high school game, and notice a coach, we can say hello to the coach, but we cannot interview him while he is there; that's a violation.

From the Compliance Seminar, we moved back over to Autzen Stadium for media day. Tons of interviews, which we will cover on Duck Sports Authority over the rest of the week.

I spent some time, though, talking to Mike Jorgenson, former Duck quarterback and current broadcaster. I got his "official" view of the new Football Operations Center for the record, but we talked for a bit off the microphone. One thing that was interesting, after a SINGLE practice with Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator, Jorgy said he knew "the program has changed." One practice is all it took to know that Kelly had made his mark. Jorgy was gracious and insightful today and I appreciated his time.

I also spent a little time after the tour of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex talking with Craig Pintens about some of the negative commentary that he has seen, as we all have, about the cost.

Well, I will discuss that more in depth this Friday in Flock Talk.

In the mean time, there was football today. Football season is officially here!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Scott Frost vs. Mark Helfrich

Okay, the question of the week seems to be what to expect from Scott Frost as Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach/play caller versus what Mark Helfrich provided as Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach.

First, let me start with Helfrich. As offensive coordinator, he was not the play caller, that duty belonged to Chip Kelly. Nonetheless, Helfrich was extremely heavily involved in game planning... and that is where the specifics of which plays in which situations that the staff thought would be best. So, while he may not have made the calls on game day, many of the situations were known about in advance and planned for... and Helfrich was instrumental in that capacity.

More importantly, Helfrich was brought on to teach the fundamentals of throwing the ball. Kelly was a master at teaching the art of deception in the mesh point and clearly he was the innovator of the option portion of the spread, but the mechanics of passing the ball? That was ALL Helfrich. And therein lay his value under Kelly.

Scott Frost, on the other hand, comes to the offensive coordinator spot having never tutored quarterbacks. Nonetheless, as a brilliant option quarterback, he is very familiar with the mesh point and reading the defense to understand run versus pass. That is where his value will lay going forward for Oregon.

Will he be the same play caller as Kelly? No. But, he will likely be very aggressive and will understand the value of yards and first downs. He will not, though, be the guy that tutors the quarterbacks on mechanics of being a better passer; at first. He will have to work with Helfrich to better teach the fundamentals of quarterback mechanics in the passing game.

Expect Helfrich to handle that duty much like Kelly handled the teaching of some of the option principles to the quarterbacks while he was around.

Essentially, what I am saying is that the dynamics of head coach and offensive coordinator will be reversed under Helfrich and Frost from the situation with Kelly and Helfrich. In the past, Kelly handled the option part of QB coaching while Helfrich handled the passing mechanics of the position. Now, expect Frost to handle the option portion of coaching while the head coach handles the mechanics of throwing the ball.

In the end, as long as the relationship between the two works symbiotically, this can be a positive relationship that is even more productive than previously.

There could be a hitch, however. Under Kelly, the play calling lay at the feet of the head coach. As the play caller, Kelly was ultimately responsible for what happened on the field and, if there was a bad play call, he had nowhere to point a finger but back at himself. Now? Well, there will be the potential for finger pointing.

Helfrich is not the type, though, to blame anyone for the failings of the team, so I don't expect that to be a problem. There is just the potential.

In the end, while many have predicted that the team may be more "pass heavy" under Helfrich, that should be tempered some by Frost's's presence as play-caller. Expect this offense to be very similar in their productivity as they were under Kelly. Frost is a very smart young coach that understands the principles of the blur offense; get teams out of position; get them tired; make their minds cloudy and strike.

Oregon will continue to score points in bundles in 2013 and beyond. Those that think there will be a letdown have not paid much attention.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Things We Do For Love

I have some thoughts about some things posted on the Duck Sports Authority Message Boards, but I probably won't get to them tonight... will try to get to them tomorrow night...
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG day again... got up early, went to visit Braden and then came home, loaded up the truck with some stuff for the storage unit... ended up making three trips to the unit, plus loaded one more for tomorrow after work...

After the third load, moved all the boxes from downstairs and staged them in the dining room...

Moving time is getting close again...
Putting in a full day at my regular job tomorrow so I can spend Monday at Media Day...

Will get a tour of the new Hatfield-Dowlin Complex
(And for those that don't get the reference from the title, it's probably because you're too young to remember... but it was a song WAY back when I was young!)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Great Expectations, or the big letdown?

Today in Flock Talk, I spoke about the hefty expectations that accompany Mark Helfrich into his new office and new position.

Within the article, I refer back to some classic literature to express some points that I find relevant to the situation that Helfrich faces. The issue at hand is that Helfrich may be in the untenable position of a no-win situation.

For much of the off-season we have heard from various pundits how this program was defined by Kelly. At the heart of this thought process is the quiet nature of Helfrich. Unlike Kelly, he was not a brash coordinator that completely changed the culture; at least, not that anyone knows. Whatever imprint Helfrich had on the program, he was seemingly in the background.

Even the playcalling was speculated to have been, mostly, out of his control. Sure, he was responsible for game-planning along with other coaches, but not really for the play calling.

Maybe, though, this is where Helfrich's genius lay; not in being a mad scientist drawing up plays in the sand; but in his immaculate attention to detail. Every fine point of a game plan. Considering every possible move and counter move. Maybe his genius was in his strategic ability. That tends to fit into his personality a lot better than Kelly.

Kelly had vision and he had passion, and he paid attention to seemingly every detail. But, from my perspective, he paid attention to every detail from a large perspective and it was others that actually paid attention to the minutiae of the details.

The problem in 2013, unfortunately, is that if Helfrich goes on to win big, he will hear that he had little to do with the success that this is the "team that Chip built." If he loses? The criticism will be even worse! "How could he not win big with the team Chip left behind?"

Enlightenment  philosopher and writer once said that "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." This must be a little bit how Helfrich feels. He is his own coach and his own main, but is constrained by the expectations left behind by his predecessor.

It is really unfortunate because the one thing we can be sure of is that Mark Helfrich did have an impact on this team over the last four years. While most people have focused on the running aspect of the Oregon quarterbacks, think for a moment about the evolution of the position. That is Mark Helfrich. Without Helfrich, the Ducks may have been led by a strong of Masoli clones at the quarterback. While he was exciting on the field at times, the inconsistencies were unbearable.

Under Helfrich the quarterback play has evolved to the point where there are fewer and fewer flaws. Helfrich knows how to coach pro-style quarterbacks; and that is why Chip Kelly brought him to Oregon.

One of the quotes from Flock Talk was from Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most."

Truer words may have never been written, but fear not Duck fans, the next step and the next word from the Duck football team will not really be new; they will just have a new voice.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jocks Behaving Badly

Today on "Idiots of the World" we encounter two more athletes who just simply do not seem to "get it."


Terrence Jones can hide behind the word "trip" all he wants, but that does not explain him yelling "wake up!" at the homeless man on whom he "tripped." We keep hearing that nothing good happens at 2 AM, yet professional athletes cannot seem to help themselves.

Yes, Jones is young and stupid. And that's not really a big surprise. What is bothersome to me is trying to hide behind his lawyer. Look, the homeless man probably had no idea who it was that stepped on him. All of this legal stuff could probably have been avoided by some form of kind gesture.

It's not like Jones comes from a privileged background which is what really bothers me about this whole scene. By stomping on that man, he stomped on himself, and he stomped on his mother. It wasn't long ago that fans across the nation sat glued to their computer screens as he announced a college decision.

Jones has been somewhat spoiled and he has still not really learned anything from what should be a humbling and humiliating situation; other than how to shirk responsibility and hide from his own demons. Is that really the lesson we want to teach him right now?

Terrence needs to accept that what he did was disgusting. Apologize. Move on. Maybe even buy the man dinner. Take the time to get to understand the man. Remember without the talent that God gave you, you might not be in any better situation.


As many are aware, I am not as big an NFL fan as I am college, so I do not spend much time watching NFL games or paying attention to what the players in the NFL do on their free time.

Certainly circumstance will make that almost impossible to avoid, see Aaron Hernandez, but, generally speaking, I avoid discussing the NFL. Today, though, I am compelled to make a brief topic on Riley Cooper.

I am sorry, but I have a problem when people are caught... ON CAMERA, making racial slurs and then say "that's not the kind of person I am."

Ummm, yes it is, otherwise you wouldn't have used such a vile and disgusting reference to another human being.

We are who we are. What we say absolutely reflects who we are as people. To attempt to deflect the rightful criticism with such a lame platitude is alomst as shameful as the original act. It is an act of cowardice to hide behind the words "that's not who I am."

Riley Cooper, you are an NFL player. Be a man. Accept the consequences of your actions. That IS who you are.

You MIGHT aspire to be a better man than that, but until you take that first, most critical step, and admit to the truth, you will always be stuck in your lost world and trapped inside the smallness of your own mind.

Maybe he was just trying to "show off" at the concert around other people with similar attitudes, but there are still no excuses. Accept who you are and try to become better. By your denial you only continue to plague yourself with your own stupidity.

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