Monday, September 30, 2013

Lane Kiffin and the Oregon Impact

So, I have seen plenty of talk about how this could really hurt the rest of the Pac-12. After all, Kiffin's ineptitude is thought to have directly led to the emergence of Oregon and Stanford as national powers.

I disagree with that thought 100 percent.

Go back in time and think about the Ducks rise to prominence. It started before Kiffin brough his brand of bad coaching to USC. In fact, the only coach to bring USC the levels of success that Trojan fans expect, happened to watch a Duck quarterback run over around and through the Trojans on Halloween night in 2009 en route to the Ducks first Rose Bowl appearance in 15 years.

Pete Carroll was far from inept as the head coach of the Trojans. He brought national titles and excitement back to the Coliseum. His brashness and energy breathed life into a program that had been, at best, average, for quite a while.

And here came Chip Kelly and the Oregon program with a new system and speed to burn. Kelly stole the spotlight before Kiffin became head coach. And Kiffin kept the Trojans competitive through the first part of sanctions.

Anyone who thought that the Trojans were going to stay at the top of the Pac-12 throughout their sanctions was chasing fools gold. It simply was not possible with the level of scholarship reductions that the Trojans were hammered with.

Lane Kiffin was a lame duck the moment he accepted the job. No one. NO one could have kept that team near the top in the changing landscape of college football where depth was just as important as starting talent. Without depth, there was no way for USC to compete with Stanford and Oregon who had built powerhouse teams before sanctions hit Troy.

Pat Haden has proved just as inept, though, trying to guide the university through the morass of problems associated with excessive expectations that were misaligned with debilitating sanctions. He has mishandled at least two coaching changes in the two major sports.

Will a new coach coming to Los Angeles challenge the Ducks spot? I say no. In fact, a coach who can return the Trojans to a perennial contender status will only help Oregon and the rest of the Pac-12.

As it stands, Oregon suffers in the eyes of the national media because they play in a conference considered "weaker" than the SEC. If the Trojans can rise back to the top of the South division of the Pac-12, that will help the perception of conference strength.

As for Oregon specifically, the Ducks program is on solid ground. USC has always dominated the conference in recruiting. Their rise back to the top will still be built around the best talent in the conference. And Oregon has increased their talent level. The Ducks can recruit nationally now and that helps to limit the impact of a quality Trojan team.

Oregon will be fine. The Pac-12 will be better.

Playoffs are coming after this year. A "super-division" of football is not far behind. That only serves to help Oregon maintain their presence.

No need to fret. Oregon, contrary to the wishes of  Husky, Trojan and Beaver fans, is not going to regress simply because USC gets a better coach.

Oregon will be fine.

Five Questions: Colorado

We spoke with John Henderson of the Denver Post and asked him a few questions about Colorado in advance of this weeks game.

As part of our expanded coverage of Oregon football, this week we also spent the time to ask John Henderson, who covers the Buffaloes for the Denver Post, for his take on a few topics related to this game.

Getty Images
Paul Richardson is fully recovered from injury
Q: Going into OSU having already won two games, what were the expectations for the team and how did that loss adjust those expectations?

A: The expectations were to get the program back on an upward arc. The two wins weren't over impressive opponents but this is a once-proud championship major program that lost to those types of teams (Toledo, Sacramento State, blown out at Fresno State). The OSU pratfall brought them surely back to earth. They realize they haven't arrived. In fact, they must wonder how much they've really improved. That's a bad defense they couldn't move against.

Q: What does new head coach Mike MacIntyre's long term philosophy as a coach look like?

A: MacIntyre wants a fast-paced, no-huddle, potent offense with a tight-knit team fostered by numerous coaching techniques. He has team leaders who are assigned certain players to mentor. They look after each other. He's also not a screamer. He encourages rather than discourages which is what the previous staff brought with them from the NFL.

Q: After last year's performance at Autzen and this weekends performance against the Beavers, what are the fan expectations for this game and the rest of the season? (Are they more hopeful than last year about the long term prognosis?)

A: This is impossible to answer. I'm still in Portland. but generally, going into the season fans weren't expecting much. It's seven straight losing seasons and MacIntyre inherited little. They're coming off the worst season in school history and lost their two best offensive lineman and best defensive lineman. The two early wins merely showed they might not get humiliated as they did in the past. Myself, I picked they'd go 3-9 with wins over CSU and Central Arkansas. Frankly, I didn't know where they'd get a third win. I figured someone like Cal or Utah would show up in Boulder hung over. I stick to my original pick.

Q: Former athletic director Mike Bohn seemed to make a great basketball hire, why were his football hires so bad?

A: Good question. With Hawkins, Bohn got caught up with the flavor of the month and Hawkins' Zen BS made Bohn think he'd be a good fit in Boulder. It didn't take long to realize that Chris Petersen was the brains behind Hawkins' success at Boise State. Bohn said he couldn't pay market value for the successor so he went cheap with a popular alum with NFL experience in Jon Embree. Bohn went after Les Miles who yawned, Troy Calhoun who parlayed that into a raise, didn't like Jim McElwain and got wowed by Embree who's a great interview. Bohn might've connected with MacIntyre. He's a good fit. And anyone who turns around San Jose State can get Colorado to .500.

Q: Can MacIntyre succeed in bringing in the talent level he will need to
compete in the Pac-12?

A: No one knows. The more Colorado loses, the harder it is to recruit. He must battle facilities that are by far the worst in the conference and fund raising toward a planned $170 million facilities renovation isn't going real well. The turnaround will be up to new AD Rick George as much as MacIntyre. He found gems under rocks around California to turn around San Jose State. But you can't win in the Pac-12 with sleepers.

Expanding our coverage

For those that do not have a membership and read just the free content, each day, starting this week, we will have a little bit of free content about the upcoming game.

Some of the stuff will be very basic, like the day we release the depth chart through the site.

But we are also adding a "Question and Answer" piece where we talk to a writer that covers the opponent and ask a few pertinent questions. This week we talked with John Henderson of the Denver Post.

Later in the week we will have a special piece titled "Key Storyline" as well as another piece focusing on an offensive and defensive player to watch for the opponent.

The final "extra" story will be a look back at the "First Look" article about each team.

Of course, we will still offer the DSA Inside Edge match-up articles as premium content.

So, keep checking at Duck Sports Authority for all of your Duck Football needs!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A family affair

NCAA Football: Family Affair

“Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.” (Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky)

This weekend when the Oregon football team plays host to the California Golden Bears, the coaches will be hosting several recruits as well. One of those recruits, [db]Tony James[/db], will be traveling across country from the state of Florida to check out everything the Ducks have to offer.

With the breadth of talent available in places like Florida and Texas, the Ducks made the important decision to go outside of their traditional recruiting grounds to look for the right type of talent to fit their schemes. Oregon had traditionally been heavily influenced by players from southern California. Despite the fact that California is loaded with Division I talent of their own, there simply was more talent around the nation Oregon was missing out on each year.

That had to change. And it did.

In their rise to national prominence the Ducks have increased their national visibility and have become more reliant on national recruiting to find the best talent for their warp speed high flying offense. The fact that the Ducks have been able to build their national brand is made more impressive by their relatively remote location.

Being in a small town might not present much of a problem if that university was close to big population centers and deep high school talent. Eugene really has neither of those advantages. Facilities certainly draw interest from recruits and their parents; but getting the decision makers to see Eugene as the right place is easier said than done. Especially given the somewhat arcane rules of the NCAA and its guidelines for recruiting.

Last year it was learned that an assistant coach at Tennessee had secretly paid for a parent to make a trip to Knoxville with her son. This is an NCAA violation. The question, though, is whether this rule has seen its better days.

The NCAA does not permit the athlete to make the decision alone, however, requiring a parent or guardian signature on their National Letter of Intent. The catch? The parent cannot see the institution unless they pay their own way.

While many young men take up to five trips to see their college options, parents are not afforded the same opportunity. How is a young man supposed to make an informed decision if at least one of his parents has not had the opportunity to visit with the athlete? Honestly, they cannot.

That issue came to light this past season when a running back from the state of Florida (seem familiar?) decided he wanted to play football for Brett Bielema. At the time Bielema was the coach at the University of Wisconsin. After leaving Wisconsin to take over the head coaching position at the University of Arkansas, Bielema continued recruiting the talented running back.

The problem? Mom had never been to campus and refused to sign his NLI.

This wasn't an overprotective parent or “nut-job” as had been speculated in February. She was simply a mother who wanted to make sure her son was making his decision for the right reason. After all, he wouldn't have been the first 17 year old to make a bad decision for the wrong reasons.

After learning of the reasons her son chose to play for Bielema, she acquiesced and signed allowing him to attend. The reality is that he just wanted to get out of Florida and be somewhere he could truly grow into a man. That is an incredibly mature and intelligent thought process that should have been rewarded. It came close to not happening because his mother had not seen Arkansas and had no understanding of this process.

Sure, there were clearly some communication issues between mother and son. It took a drastic act on the part of the mother to get the young man to speak openly and honestly about his decision.

Nonetheless, the NCAA requires a signature from someone whom they do not permit to be hosted. There is something a bit off about that rule.

This rule needs changed.

Youth is a time of learning and exploration. What happens on the football field pales in comparison to what happens in the classroom of life. As these young men travel through the morass of life, he has a choice to accept his own without question or compare it with others. Comparison is a great guide to decision making.

The problem is that the athlete's decision is only a ruse. Because a parent signature is required, it is really the parent making the decision. And, if the NCAA expects the parent to make informed decisions in the best interests of the student-athlete, what would be wrong with allowing universities to pay for a parent to visit along with the student-athlete? In a word; nothing.

Oregon is fortunate in the case of Tony James. His mother father and sister are able to afford the cross-country trip. Whether James chooses the Ducks or another university, we know tht his choice will have been truly informed with accurate input from his family.

Not everyone is so lucky.

The decision should be a family affair. It is time for the NCAA to allow the family to help make the decision.

Recruiting Update

During their bye week, Oregon coaches took full advantage of revamped rules which allow all assistant coaches to be recruiting at the same time. As head coach Mark Helfrich stayed behind to run practices, every assistant coach scattered to all four corners of the country to recruit.

Though the Ducks have just 8 commitments heading into their Pac-12 opener, Oregon is still looking to close strong this recruiting class. That begins this weekend with three very big official visitors as well as the possibility of some unofficial visitors.

Will there be any surprise visitors this weekend?

Stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for all the latest recruiting news to find out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Freedom of Speech: Stupidity of the press

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
Read that quote. Read it again. That is the text of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It is a critical piece of our national history. But it also seems to be one of the most misunderstood pieces of writing as well.

Last weekend football players at several universities had the initials "APU" written on some piece of their clothing. This was their version of "civil unrest" calling for changes to the structure of the NCAA.

Theirs is a valid point and one which is worth discussing. In fact, it has been discussed widely for a while now as many in the media are calling for some form of paying more to players.

This is not necessarily about that change, though, it is about a personal pet peeve of mine; freedom of speech and the misuse of this concept by just about everyone who talks about the subject.

After some Georgia Tech players were discovered wearing the letters (which stood for All Players United), the Tech head coach, Paul Johnson, responded that his players should have put the topic to a team vote before making such statements during a college football game.

Those that know me know I have chosen to avoid calling out journalists of late. Though I am not a member of "traditional" media, because I have acted as a member accepting some of the privileges as a member of the press, I try to be as respectful as possible.

In this case, though, I make an exception.

After Johnson talked about what his players should have done, a member of the press; a national writer; decided to make this statement via twitter:

Coach gets involved with free speech of his players.
That was Dennis Dodd. I see this countless times, by press as well as general public.

Someone gets fired for what they say, people respond "what about freedom of speech?!" Incensed that someone can suffer consequences for their words which they feel should be protected.

Read the words again:

Congress shall make no law
The first amendment says nothing about a boss, a coach, a parent or anyone else deciding to take action against a person for what they say.

My boss can fire me. A coach can kick you off of the team. Yes. For words. There is no amendment which says you have any right to say whatever you want without consequence. It simply says congress cannot make a law abriding free speech.

Did congress do that this week? No. A coach, whose job is to create a cohesive team atmosphere in which everyone works together to accomplish a goal said that team protocol was not followed. Johnson did not go to Washington D.C. and ask congress to punish his players.

What Dodd said is the same asinine stuff I see every time someone suffers a consequence for their choices. It frustrates me that the general public does not seem to understand this amendment that they want to avail themselves of at every opportunity.

But, seeing that the press, you know, those arbiters of what is supposed to be ACCURATE information, do not seem to understand the very law that allows their continued employment, how in the world is the public supposed to be informed?

Dodd should know better than that. And, you know what, he probably does, but acting as if someone rights have been violated gets a lot more "clicks" than the truth. Once again, news gets replaced by sensationalism.

DSA Tailgate: Cal Edition

Can Saturday get here any faster? Hopefully this storm alleged to be heading our way gets slowed down... or sped up and past us before game time. Game time this week is 7:30... a night game. But that makes the tailgate time perfect! The tailgate starts at 2:30...

Last time out we had a HUGE turn-out with some NEWBIES... it was a blast... many different people were there... cannot name them all, but B.J. Kelly's mom stopped by to say hello along with our friends from Volquest!

MANY others showed up and we had a great time...

Okay all, THIS is the time of year where tailgating should be good...this game marks the opening of conference play... this is the time to get into our full season mode!

We will be in our usual new spot at the Serbu Youth Center Directly across Centennial Blvd (MLK) from Autzen. We will have the flag up and the Banner attached... but we are also in space 223.

Let me give some easy to find directions to our spot.

There are TWO Entrances for the Serbu Parking... ours is the WESTERN most entrance. After you go in this entrance you should see a long field to your left... go down the road until you see a bunch of spaces to the LEFT, we are at the farthest end on the left hand side.

Below are the details!

What: DSA Tailgate - California Edition
When: Sep. 28, 2013
Time: ~ 2:30PM local time tailgating lots open; I will be there!
Where: John Serbu Youth Campus, 2727 MLK Blvd
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
Twitter: UO_Football_DSA

COMMENTS: Remember that we will have the following amenities:

*-TV with cable to watch games during tailgate (we upgraded to a 32” tv this year!)
*-Food: Burgers, Hot Dogs, Brats
*-Beverages: Beer, Sodas, Blended Drinks (thanks to the generator, we can use a blender and have fun with drinks!)
*-Burgers are hand made this year and are VERY good!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

NCAA admits wrongdoing? Again?


No. The NCAA will not formally announce that they messed the Penn State saga like a baby diaper. But the reality is that a baby diaper has less mess on it than this scenario.

I said when the sanctions were announced that I thought two things:

1. This was a major over reach on the part of the NCAA. Yes, they tried some legalese to define why they could basically, do anything they wanted. Nonetheless, this was NEVER a football program issue.

On some levels, there should have been some minor wrist slap for allowing a non-coach access to the football facilities. There should have been a wrist slap for former coach Joe Paterno not following up the initial reports he made to the institution.

But by minor wrist slap, I mean that his statement which said he regretted not following up should have been the end of the story.This is not to say that I condone or in any way shape or form the actions committed by Sandusky. They are his and his alone and he must answer to whatever Greater Power in which he believes.

But the football program should have NEVER been punished for the actions of a coach who was no longer a coach.

2. If the NCAA felt that some form of punishment were necessary, what they handed down was so far over the line that it simply felt wrong. Sure. For those that want to see legends go down, this was a great thing; an icon blamed for the actions of a solo pervert. A program which had been above reproach for well over 40 years stained by the stupidity of one man and his superiors.


The NCAA has just bungled this worse by admitting their own wrongdoing. This is the second time in the last year that the NCAA has been seen as a buffoon bungling case after case.

The reality is that a certain cowboy who thought he could do what he wanted as some sort of vigilante has shown himself to be nothing more than power hungry. In the process he has destroyed what little, if any, integrity the institution might have.

There is no longer the pretense of an organization with integrity. The NCAA is simply a bad puppet show with a worse puppeteer calling the shots.

Simply put, it is time for Mark Emmert to step down. he has no control and no idea what direction to go. Every one of his decisions seems wrong and reactionary. Not only has his leadership been poor, it has been virtually absent. 

This decision almost certainly signals the end of the NCAA as it is currently structured.

A "super division" is fast approaching and it will change college football forever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A bye week for everyone

Okay, well, I took the entire weekend off just to relax and watch some football without having to write about it!

But I did come away with some thoughts over the weekend.

Washington victory over Boise State not that impressive anymore

Watching Boise State lose yet again, to a  Fresno State team that, while good, is nowhere near the caliber of Oregon, Alabama, Clemson or Stanford, it made me question just how impressive the Washington victory really is in the grand scheme of things.

I have heard much discussion about Washington and their new energy this season. They are certainly operating more efficiently on offense, but have not been overly impressive yet on defense. Yes; they are holding t3eams to 10 points per game, but that includes an Idaho State team that may be even worse than Nicholls State.

The reality is that the defense is not yet deep. Certainly Justin Wilcox has reinvented this defense in a much better image than that of Nick Holt. What wll happen when they face a better team? A team that can score with them? Will they wilt or rise to the challenge.

Washington gets Arizona this weekend, followed by a trip to Stanford then Oregon at home. The Pac-12 conference should have a much clearer picture after that stretch of games.

Alabama defense not even in top 50?

The Crimson Tide rolled into this season as a unanimous number one pick. In some ways, that made perfect sense; defending champs; returning quarterback and all the talent in the world.

Something seems to be missing this year, though. While the offense has looked inconsistent at times, it has been as effective as always. But the defense has not looked like a Nick Saban defense.

Early season malaise? Maybe. You cannot really judge that defense by the Texas A&M game because Manziel had another field day with Bama.

The reality is, though, that we probably won't find out much about Alabama until November 9th when they play LSU.

Stanford question marks

I have been saying all off-season that the questions surrounding the Stanford football team should be bigger than they have been.

Stanford is playing the same kind of role in 2013 which USC played in 2012. One impressive road victory over Oregon and the team is suddenly considered better than Oregon. Last November Stanford supposedly had an "Oregon Problem." Was that problem really solved?

While everyone focuses on what Stanford did to stop the Ducks. But it should be noted that Oregon averaged 4.9 yards per carry (to Stanford's 4.3) and 9.9 yards per completion (Stanford: 8.4) in that game.

While everyone points out that Oregon scored just 14 points, so, too, was Stanford shut down for most of the game. of their 17 points, Stanford scored 3 in overtime and 7 that are debatable as to whether it should have counted.

Stanford scored their first touchdown with 12:39 left in the second quarter; and was shut out until 1:35 remaining.

And that Stanford offense lost five of their top six receivers as well as 75% of their rushing attack.

While Oregon lost the game, this was not the dismantling that many seem to be remembering.

The Cardinal have not yet impressed much with their early season performance. They get Washington on October 5th and then have a stretch of Oregon State, UCLA and Oregon in a three week stretch. They still lack depth and an offensive identity this season. Time will tell if this is a team ready to challenge Alabama for a national title as some have predicted.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Oregon Way

Over the weekend, as Oregon made the decision to forgo a punt on 4th-and-6 in favor of a pass to what turned out to be a wide open Daryle Hawkins, I heard the term "The Oregon Way" regarding fourth down conversions.
Earlier this week, Dale Newton talked about the recruiting success at the tight end position. While most talk about the Oregon way for how the game is played in the field, be it fourth down conversion attempts or veterans setting young guys "straight" with physical play that reminds them there are no "stars" on the Oregon team, the reality is that the term runs deeper than in field play.

The Oregon way starts on the recruiting trail. While rising to national prominence over the past five seasons, Oregon has seen unprecedented success on the field. Conference championships, Rose Bowl appearances and a win; a National Championship Game appearance; you name it, the Ducks have accomplished it over the past four seasons.

At the same time, the Ducks have finished no higher than 11th in the national recruiting rankings. Teams like Alabama and USC who have had their own dynastic runs during the past decade also spend their time at the top of the recruiting rankings.

Yes, rankings are an inexact science. Nonetheless, teams like Alabama, USC, Texas and LSU have significant talent levels on their rosters. Oregon, without the same talent has seemed to continue their rise despite this fact.

Many point to the development of players at Oregon as the prime reason for their over-achieving success. And that is a fair point. John Neal has taken a number of lower rated high school defensive backs and turned them into NFL Pro-Bowl caliber players. The list of defensive backs, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks that have gone from Oregon to the NFL is surprising given the lack of respect Oregon players seem to receive on a national basis.

But there is something more to this success than just player development. After all, most college coaches pretty good at developing players.

No. Development alone does not explain the success of the Oregon Way.

Turns out, this Oregon Way starts in the living rooms and on the recruiting trail. As many of our astute readers know, Oregon has now had every signed player qualify academically for five consecutive recruiting classes. In that span, Oregon has signed 113 players. Oregon coaches have been right 113 consecutive times. Every player. Qualified. That is an incredible stat and it is where the Oregon Way starts.

By getting kids who can compete academically, the coaches have focused as much on character and intelligence as athletic gifts. By having kids who have athletic gifts and are intelligent, they have found out that you can coach up smart kids a lot easier. Character counts.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beyond Flock Talk: Can Chip Kelly take the Oregon way to the NFL?

With Flock Talk tomorrow, I look at the recruiting week in review as well as a different look at what is being called the "Oregon Way."

Tonight, though, we go beyond that to look at how this Oregon way translates to the NFL. I am not a big NFL fan; don't spend much time watching the NFL and don't glue myself to the couch watching. I am a college fan and really have very little patience for the snooze fest that is the NFL game.

These may be the best players on earth, but the game is predictable and noring. The only exception over the past 15 years was the "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams of the late 90's. That was fun to watch. Like is common, though, the NFL reverted back to the same ground and pound  boring snooze fest shortly thereafter.

Well, I had high hopes that the NFL could get interesting again with Chip Kelly moving on to the NFL. Mind you, I was cautious during the first game as everyone else beamed that he had already changed the NFL; WHOA! Slow down there everyone! One game does not a culture change.

By that same token, three games does not necessarily determine failure either. The reality is that Chip Kelly is learning just what the biggest difference between attempting to run his schemes in college versus the NFL.

No. I am not talking about the speed, size and talent that is present in the NFL. That's a given and, clearly, some teams are better than others despite the fact that this talent level exists on all teams. The reality is that the worst NFL team (Jacksonville?) would still destroy the best college team 95% of the time.

What am I talking about?


In college, Chip Kelly had over 100 players on the team, well over 20 of those were not going to play in a game that season making them, for lack of a better word, expendable. Practices could be fast and intense simply because there were enough players to play that way all the time.

The NFL limits teams to 53 players. That puts a big crimp in Kelly's style and makes him approach things differently. At Oregon, his defensive coordinator, Nick Aliotti, could rotate anywhere from 16-21 players on defense to keep the defense fresh. This meant that when the offense was operating at break-neck speed, the defense could at least use the hockey style rotations to keep fresh.

That option is not available in Philadelphia and it will not be available in the NFL.

In his first game as an NFL coach, the Eagles ran 53 plays... in the first half. Tonight, for an entire game, they ran just 63. After just two games, Kelly had learned that his defense, without the deep rotations available in college, could not keep up with the pace of the offense. They were getting gashed;s o he slowed the pace and used warp-speed selectively rather than as a full game tactic.

Part if this had to do with a simple fact. The Philadelphia defense is not good. Doesn't matter how fast the offense plays or how slow they play; this eagles defense cannot stop anyone.

Teh Eagles got close with McCoy's 41 yard touchdown run only to watch the Chiefs convert third down after third down on an eight minute plus drive that led to a game clinching field goal.

Can Chip Kelly's philosophy succeed in the NFL? We won't know until this Philadelphia defense gets better and the offense gets all of their playmakers on the field.

The more important question will be whether the Philadelphia fans and ownership give Kelly the time he needs to overhaul this team. That is a bet I would not be willing to take. The NFL has not been known for patience with college coaches.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

John Mundt: Lost in the hoopla

Lost in all of the hoopla after the game, John Mundt has shown that the Oregon Way works.

Mundt, a three-star prospect from Modesto, California, was the number 29 rated tight end in the nation last season. When he signed with the Ducks, most assumed he would redshirt. After all, Colt Lyerla and Pharoah Brown were both ahead of him. Evan Baylis, who had graduated high school early and arrived from Spring practices in 2012 also figured to be ahead of him on the depth chart.

In fact, Mundt was no better than fifth on the Ducks depth chart upon his arrival. He quickly passed both Koa Ka'ai and Evan Baylis with his quicker than expected grasp of the Oregon playbook in addition to his physical gifts. At 6-4 and 235 pounds, Mundt is not yet the prototypical NFL tight end, but he has good enough size to be a solid contributor.

Then, Pharoah Brown got hurt in fall camp. Suddenly, Mundt was the number 2 tight end. That was quite a surprise to many.

I was not surprised. In fact, Mundt reminded me a lot of Zach Ertz, the former Stanford tight end; except as a high school senior I though Mundt was better. He reminded me so much of Ertz that I was almost positive he would follow that path and choose Stanford.

Can I say I am glad I was wrong?

While most people only notice the statistics that end up in the box score; rushing, passing, receiving; Mundt was making his impact even before his first reception.

The most important thing Mundt did this past week, though, is show opponents that Oregon is no longer going to stubbornly insist on running the ball up the middle just to prove a point. If they leave the middle or the seam open, Oregon will exploit it with whichever tight end happens to be on the field. In fact, they may use both to exploit defenses bent on stopping the run at all costs.

While many wondered what might happen with the tight end position after 2013, assuming, of course, that Lyerla takes his immense physical talents to the NFL, the Oregon staff provided a simple answer: "don't worry."

Mundt is not going to supplant Lyerla as the starter. In fact, when Brown is healthy, who knows if Mundt holds on to that second spot on the depth chart.

How crazy is that? In just a week, Johnny Mundt could go from John Mackey tight end of the week to third string. That is the definition of depth.

Lyerla and Helfrch hug it out

All along I thought that the biggest error was Colt speaking to the media prior to talking to the head coach. But it appears that there may have been some misquoting done by a reporter. Wait? What? That never happens does it? Of course it does. Gotta get those clicks, right?

First, let me say that I saw this tweet the other day and chose not to speculate further by what Lyerla meant:

Give an inch and they'll take a mile.

Turns out he was referring to the misrepresentation of what was reported about the Saturday/Sunday conversation Lyerla had with a member of the media. As Colt said yesterday the intent of what he said to Quick was not to complain about Helfrich's statement being unfair, but in how the interpretations of the statement were unfair. The reporter, of course, was one of the first to jump on the speculative bandwagon and tweet out his speculation shortly after Saturday's post game presser.

And, you know what, Colt is right; give them an inch and they will take a mile.

It was irresponsible for the media to tweet out speculation. It was irresponsible for Lyerla to speak with the media before speaking with the coach.

But, was it irresponsible for the coach to use the world "circumstances" instead of a different statement? I would be inclined to say it was save for one problem; when he used the same word; the same EXACT word, two weeks prior to describe Erik Dungy's absence nary an eyebrow was raised and no one was calling the coach irresponsible or accusing him of "trying to be too funny" or "too cutesy" with his answers to the media.

Why is that? Because Lyerla is a star?

No. The reason it became an issue is two fold. One, simply put, a media member decided to make it an issue. But the second is the manner in which it resonated with the fans. Colt Lyerla has been something of a local legend for quite some time due to his incredible athletic prowess. His youtube videos make him a sensation.

Because of his practically mythical status amongst Oregon fans, all 60,000 in attendance seem to feel a sort of "insider" arrangement with Lyerla and his past. Everyone, it seems, knows something about him. Or claims to know something about him.

Rumors have swirled since the moment he announced at the Army All-America game that he would be choosing Oregon. Some said he would never graduate; others said he had "influeces" talking him away from football. If Lyerla had been from California, no one in Oregon would be claiming this "inside" information; and no one would be speculating every time he misses a practice.

To show just how silly some of the speculation it, there were those that speculated he missed the game for academic reasons. Do any of them realize that summer classes had already been cleared prior to fall camp and that fall classes had not yet started?

The reality is that the television broadcast had already talked about the illness that had affected several players for the team.

But, information is not enough for some people. The feel it necessary to create a salaciousness to draw attention to themselves; or their employer.

Mark Helfrich, for his part, did address the situation publicly yesterday with this quote:

“Certainly to Colt and the other guys I’ve used (circumstances) with in describing them ... in no way, shape or form was that ever intended to be negative.”

Do you see what he did there? He pointed out for those in media and the public in general who are too dense to see the light that he has used the term "circumstances" to describe the absence of other players.

The situation is resolved. Sort of.

Calling a player directly, regardless of what method you acquired his phone number, violates Oregon athletic department policy. I am sure some private action has already taken place between the athletic department and those involved who violated policy.

For the rest of the Oregon fans, it should be enough to know that Helfrich and Lyerla have "hugged it out."

All is good. We can carry on with our lives. Well, at least until the next "insider" decides to speak.

Biblical Proportions?

This is entirely non-football related... just an update from my son who spent part of the summer in Costa rica completing his degree requirements and is now roaming around Central America with his wife! Great way to spend post graduation, especially given that after high school he spent three months in Europe!

Of Biblical Proportions

Hey, remember when I said that we were going to have a really uneventful day riding at least 4 buses? Well I don't think I have ever been more wrong about anything in my life. We took a bus up the coast to Puntarenas, a tiny little town on an even tinier spit of land jutting out towards nicoya peninsula, transferred to a city bus back to the mainland, and got off on the Pan American Highway only to cross I-5's southern sister on foot. From there we caught a standing-room only bus to the border. The border that's 3 hours away. Thank goodness we were able to snag seats after a rest stop.

After the trip to the border, on which we met an aged punk rocker from Seattle, we had to find our way across the negligently planned no man's land between the borders. Welcome to Nicaragua! We were sweaty and tired, we'd just spent 6 hours on buses, and it's only 3pm.

Thinking the rest was smooth sailing is where my complete wrongness began to show. The bus from the border was a three-hour affair on an old converted school bus with a homebrew paintjob and no air conditioning. As well as no passenger limit. Somewhere along the 4-7pm ride it got so full that people just started holding on to the back of the bus. The bus that wouldn't even come to a full stop for them to board. I guess that's what you get for a $2 bus ride halfway across the country.

As we pulled in closer to Managua the rain began to pour. As we pulled into the stop in Managua we realized that the streets had turned into rivers. And that due to the literal flood that had begun there were no more buses to León, and we were left with finding a hostel in a less than safe city. At night. And forfeiting our reservation. Or paying the cab driver to take us two hours north to our hostel. So, managing to silence my inner miser, I took out money from an ATM and asked our Nicaraguan hero to take us to León.

All joking aside though, our driver, whose name I never even learned, is probably the most generous person I've encountered here. The roads were far from safe, lightning was striking less than a mile from where we were and the rains made it nigh impossible to see the road at times. In between bouts of mortal fear I found time to explain in broken Spanish exactly how much we appreciated what he was doing for us. He even drove around León asking where to find our hotel for no extra charge. Nevermind how bad we felt when he told us that he'd have to wait out the rest of the night in León until the storm passed, leaving him over 1000 km from his family in the midst of a biblical tempest. If I were a god-fearing man I'd consider him a guardian angel, but I feel he deserves more credit than that. He was simply an incredibly caring man who went out of his way to help two stranded gringos when he didn't have to.

I couldn't help but to hug him when we finally parted ways, and I don't think he expected that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Counterproductive complaints

Today there was an exceptional article in the Baker City Herald. The writer Jayson Jacoby, took a similar approach to a Flock Talk piece I wrote shortly after the opening of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.

Essentially, while some academics complain about how Phil Knight has chosen to spend his money (all the while conveniently ignoring his academic contributions), they fail to recognize that they are in fact alienating a large base of potential donors with their elitist mentality.

Many of those who choose to voice their displeasure with the athletic support that major universities like the University of Oregon garner, do so by insulting the very people who could make the difference that they so desperately want.

While some of them are pure intellectuals who see little value in competitive athletics, many others see the value of athletics, yet take the "intellectual company line" by continuing the assault on donors who choose how to spend their disposable income.

At some point, you might think that people who claim to be some of the best thinkers in the nation might recognize that alienating the very people who can make that difference in academic funding is bad form.

Do they really think insulting Phil Knight will get him to change his ways? If so, they are not as smart as they claim.

More importantly, though, is not the impact of their words on large donors like Knight or Pat Kilkenny; there are very few big time boosters. The impact on the multitudes of medium and small donors is bigger. There are thousands upon thousands; at least 60,000; people that attend every football game. People like you and me that would be willing to donate a few hundred to a few thousand dollars every year to the academic side of the institution if we were approached right.

Unfortunately, after years of being told that we are "bad" people for not having our priorities straight, the academic side of the institution has alienated a large portion of the fan base that might be willing to do more.

Sure, the university makes the attempt to get our dollars, but they must realize the futility of asking for money from those whom the professors have continuously berated for our choices.

The reason their arguments make even less sense is that, despite their obvious (in some instances anyway) intellectual gifts, they seem to fail at understanding the truly enlightened human being.

There is more to life than books; and there is more to life than sports. The most enlightened humans are not those who excel at one facet of life to the exclusion of another.

I find reading fascinating. And, no, I don't read entertainment drivel for my pleasure reading. I choose to read deeper. I take on topics in philosophy and even dabble reading some physics. In addition to reading philosophy, I also power lift. Am I enlightened? Not entirely.

Rather than seeking excellence at one area, though, I have chosen to challenge the mind, the body and the soul into constant learning and growth. Academics are an important part of a civilized, enlightened society. But where would we be without athletics?

The founders of modern philosophy; the grounds where democracy took its initial shape; valued athletics. While some of the greatest thinkers of all time were Greek, so too do the Olympics have their origin in Greece.

Were the Greeks wrong? I think not.

There is a way to make academics and competitive athletics work together. The ironic part is that it will take team work. Guess where you learn teamwork?

For that reason, it may be a fantasy to think that the two sides can come together for the betterment of all.

There are idiots everywhere, it seems

So, with a few minutes of spare time this morning, I read through some tweets that had been sent out by a particular Tennessee fan. Let me say that I met a lot of Vols fans and this guy did NOT represent the types of fans I met.

But let me get into what he said. First of all, he was complaining about the 4th-and-6 play when Oregon led by 17 and decided to go for it on fourth down.

This was the first half! Not the fourth quarter. The Ducks were leading by 17, not exactly a huge margin. Certainly teams have come back from larger deficits. And this moron says that it was unsportsmanlike and that Oregon should have punted. Really? How did all that punting work out for Butch Jones?

Second, if the Vols had defended a little better, you know, by maybe lining a defensive back up over a completely uncovered receiver, they would have been able to stop the play. But, you know what, he was upset that Oregon basically made the Vols look silly there, so I might be willing to excuse his ignorance some… until I read his solution:

“That’s where hitting a skill player at the knees out of bounds would work”

Was this guy really suggesting that the way to play football is to cheap shot and purposely attempt to injure? There’s a reason he is a clueless fan and not a player or coach. Wonder how he would feel if I said something similar about the Volunteers? There is absolutely no reason to even consider such actions.

He showed his true ignorance in another post when he said that Oregon holds on every single play. Well, considering Oregon uses a lot (and I mean a lot) of cut blocking (legally) techniques, that simply cannot be true. Period. I mean, it is purely idiotic to make a statement like that if you actually watch the play. Apparently, this guy knows as much about football as my mother (and she knows very little about football).

What he shows, though, is that there are clueless idiots everywhere. Fortunately, the Tennessee fans I met had a lot more class than this guy and we shared a great time at our tailgate with plenty of good food and drink to go around.

Better days are ahead for the Vols, sadly, when those days come, this clown will still be posting his stupidity all over twitter.

Monday, September 16, 2013

They can't all choose Oregon

After watching Jaylen Johnson and his mother having a seemingly wonderful time while visiting Oregon over the past weekend; including the pair working together to "flash the Oregon O" without even being asked, it seemed as if Oregon might be a legitimate option for the young man.

Johnson had always thought highly of Boise State and many thought he was a near lock for the Broncos.

as it turns out, those people were correct.

But the choice is perplexing only in that it came literally hours after Johnson returned home from his Oregon visit. It is really only perplexing because of aforementioned photograph of Johnson and his mother.

For the most part, I am okay with the choice because I thought all along he was a Boise State eventual commit.

One thing that has been getting on my nerves lately, though, is people who think that because Oregon wins more than Team A, anyone who chooses Team A over Oregon must either:

1) Have an academic problem
2) Must not have a committable Oregon offer
3) Has bad Character
4) Doesn't want to win

The reality is that kids choose college for a variety of reasons. The most important of which is their personality and how it meshes with the team, coaches and city. A kid could love a bunch of things about a university and really enjoy the atmosphere but simply feel it is not the right fit.

That shouldn't automatically indicate some sort of character flaw. Oregon only has 24 spots open this year... and there will be over 3000 students who sign a National Letter of Intent. Clearly Oregon cannot sign everyone; and not everyone who has an offer feels Oregon is the best fit.

Several weeks ago, Oregon lost a commit who simply lost the passion for the sport. The fans were very classy in their response. I sure wish they could be just as classy when a young man chooses another school.

The drama that never should have been

Once again, it seems that when there is no real story, a story needs to be made. I have made many of my feelings clear based on my belief that, despite his radical views about many topics, Noam Chomsky pretty much nailed the problem with modern journalism in Manufacturing Consent.

I won't spend the time rehashing the concepts behind the book, other than to remind that business is in place to make money; and sometimes that monetary goal supercedes common sense.

Of course I am referring to the little story that broke through today about Colt Lyerla through Jason Quick.

My very first thought was that it was highly irresponsible for any member of the press to make a tweet in response toa very nebulous answer at a press conference that assumes the meaning. We have all heard the old saying of what happens when you assume, and, once again, that has proven to be true.

Why do I say this?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, when Erik Dungy did not play, and we were told that “circumstances” prevented him from playing, no one jumped to wild conclusions about grades, discipline or attitude; they simply went about their day.

But when that same word was used in relation to Lyerla, suddenly Quick's intuition is that it must be disciplinary? Clearly part of the reason nothing was said in relation to Dungy is that he is not a star and Lyerla is a star. Nonetheless, making such a statement was irresponsible; at best.

To his credit, Quick later admitted that making such a tweet was not the best idea. But, he crossed another line afterwards. Sunday is pretty much off limits to the football team by the media. That's a team day and Media Services is not likely to have granted any interview requests.

Yet, there was Quick interviewing Lyerla about what Helfrich had said in the press conference.

To a limited point, I understand why Lyerla was upset. He knew he was sick and probably did not have a problem with the coach telling the media that he was sick all week. But that is not company policy. Oregon does not talk about injuries OR illnesses; at all. It doesn't matter whether the player is okay with it, Oregon coaches do not discuss it; period. If the player chooses to discuss it, that becomes his prerogative.

Lyerla's biggest mistake in this situation was talking to media before talking to the coach. He wasn't being abused and the coach wasn't trying to throw him under the bus. But that is exactly how Lyerla saw the situation. And, rather than call the coach and ask why, he answered a reporters questions without talking to Helfrich this creating a bigger piece of drama than otherwise needed to exist.

In the end, the mea culpa's within the team will be handled and no one will know the difference outside the team.

This really falls as much on Lyerla's shoulders as anyone... He spoke to an outsider out of petulence... Had he called the coach before talking to Quick, there would be no story... But he was angry and responded without thinking.

More importantly, regardless of how Quick contacted Colt, he did not go through Media Services which is a big no-no.

Many question why Oregon is so secretive. When the players arrive for their first day as a football player, part of the big stack of papers that they have to review and initial includes releases that would allow this type of information to be discussed. Nonetheless, Oregon takes a hard stance on the topic.

I can tell you from experience that if you request specific information (not at a news conference, but through email or written form), the athletic department absolutely references FERPA laws in their response which says that they cannot release that information. And, whgen it relates to a student athlete's health, the school further uses HIPPA laws as reasoning for not releasing information.

Either way, it has been made clear to most people in the past that these types of things were not going to be discussed publicly. In some respects, the repeated questioning was stupid. Ask the question once, that is your job; keep repeating the question thinking you will “trip up” the coach; stupidity.

The reality is that when a player misses a game, we are probably not going to know why. To speculate as to what that reason may be based on the word "circumstances" versus no comment is simply not the way to approach the situation. Maybe Quick is so used to the NBA where they HAVE to release that stuff and believes he has some magical "right to know" the situation, but he will quickly learn (pun not intended) that the Duck athletic department does not have the same policy and to speculate based on a word and then tweet out that speculation is highly irresponsible.

And, to think it was academic... any summer courses would have likely cleared before camp began... and, maybe someone needs to inform the rest of the writers that school has not yet begun at Oregon... i.e., there is virtually no chance that this was an academics thing... the only other logical conclusion would have been:

1) Injury or illness
2) Team discipline

Neither of those are something that an Oregon coach will ever discuss. Nor are they something that people outside the program have a right to know.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tennessee Tailgate Wrap

Wow. That's about all I can say. What a  great, great day for tailgating. We had a HUGE turnout... so big, I can't even name all the people that were there!

We had people from everywhere make this game and it was very cool to see so many people there!

We had some Vols fans, including evol make it and they were a really great group of people... and after he showed up with his friends, other Vols fans came over and joined our fun... for those that were at the game and didn't make it over, you missed out on great fun...

Oh, and you missed out on the deep friend bacon wrapped BBQ shrimp... it was AWESOME... my wife cooked them and they were just about perfect...

The Vols fans were just as gracious on the road as they were in Knoxville and I am very impressed with their class and their turnout.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tailgate fun.... starts with a LOT of work

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG night of tailgate prep... we're doing this one big time... thanks to my wife, Leslie Kegg Reed for her hard work getting the bacon wrapped, BBQ Shrimp prepped and deep fried tonight!
We have been working for the last 6 hours to get ready for tomorrow!
It's all worth it, though!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oregon has big recruiting weekend on tap

Big Recruiting Weekend

Last weekend, as the Ducks travelled to Virginia, the Cavaliers were hosting one of their biggest recruiting weekends ever.

Another week and another big recruiting weekend. Though the number of visitors for the Oregon-Tennessee game will not approach the kind of numbers as Virginia hosted, it will still be a large, important recruiting weekend for the Ducks.

Oregon is expecting anywhere from eight to twelve visitors this weekend. Of the confirmed visitors, two are from Texas which continues to be an important state for Oregon recruiting.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Inferiority Complex?

Sitting in the press box Saturday in Charlottesville, I kept seeing Duck fans complain about the ESPN commenttors for the Virginia game.

First, I will disclose, because I am usually either tailgating or at the games on Saturdays, I am not entirely familiar with all the different ESPN broadcasters. As such, I had no clue who Duck fans were talking about when they referred to "Cunningham."

Tonight, seeing the game on ESPN, I decided to watch prepared to be incensed at the clear anti-Oregon drivel I had been assured former Husky player Ed Cunningham had bombarded America with during his commentary. After all, Duck fans had told me he was basically saying that the Ducks weren't that good and that they got lucky Virginia was making so many mistakes.

Well folks, I watched the game and listened to the commentary. Much to my surprise, all I seemed to hear from the team of commentators was effusive praise for the Ducks speed and athleticism along with legitimate commentary on the areas where the Ducks did not perform as well and the areas where Virginia had some advantages.

So, I am not entirely sure what everyone else heard because, in all honesty, this was a fair commentary about a team who still has some areas of improvement that are needed, yet praising those areas where Oregon is clearly one of the top teams in the nation.

Oregon fans got so used to feeling like the team played better from an "underdog" role that sometimes I think that they just do not like hearing too much praise and they LOOK; I mean actively LOOK for something to use as motivation. As if the only way they can feel comfortable is if they feel someone is slighting the team in some fashion.

It's time, I think, for Oregon fans to let it go. Oregon is no longer the "little engine that could." There is no surprise. When a team enters the echelon of elite and is constantly being mentioned in the national championship picture, they will be scrutinized even closer. Oregon has some early season flaws; as do many contending teams. An analyst pointing them out is not negative bias against the Ducks. It is reality.

There is no longer a reason to feel uncomfortable with the role of front-runners.

Oregon fans, its time to learn how to run from the front.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chip Kelly, Square Pegs, Round Holes and the Funnest game on earth

It has been an interesting 24 hours for Duck fans.

Understandably, there wasa whole lot of affection for how the Philadelphia Eagles performed in Chip Kelly's debut.

Remember his last debut? Clearly he learned something from that game and was better prepared for the rigors of a road contest in a hostile environment.

But we also saw something rarely seen at Oregon during Kelly's tenure; an early brake pedal.  IT seems as if Kelly went into "protect the lead" mode a little early. That decision created a little complacency with the team and it showed with a sluggish second half perfomance.

And, this might be the biggest issue for Kelly in the NFL.

At Oregon, there were 100+ players and a three deep at quarterback that were recruited specifically to play the system at Oregon. It worked. The NFL, however, has a max of 53 guys on the roster. That lack of depth is sure to cause some differences in the manner that Kelly runs an offense.

At PHiladelphia, Kelly does not have 10 offensive linemen that he can rotate in and out to keep the offense fresh; he doesn't have three Pro Bowl caliber running backs to rotate into the backfield to keep each fresh.

Lesean McCoy was tired and Bryce Brown was too far of a drop off to help out McCoy.

Michael Vick aggravated his groin and Nick Foles was not a good answer to help out. Right away the difference between the NFL and college became clear.

That is not to say that Kelly won't be successful. There is something different in the way Kelly has approached the NFL versus the way other college coaches like Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban approached the challenge.

Kelly got a buy in from the players and it is clear that they really enjoy playing for Kelly. For now. What happens when they lose a couple of games and struggle offensively to score? Will they stay in full "buy in" mode? What happens when one of the stars is in a contract year and Kelly gets more even distribution? Will the star still buy in when he sees fewer touches and millions of dollars flying out the window?

These are questions we won't know the answer to for a couple of years at best. The reality is that the NFL IS different than college football. There has never been a question about Kelly's offensive genius mind. But sometimes brilliant minds cannot navigate the intricacies of professional athletics.

If anyone can cross-over from college football coaching to NFL coaching, it is Chip Kelly.

Nonetheless, he has plenty of work ahead and the road he travels to complete the journey will not likely be the same as people expect. His biggest value is not a "spread option" attack. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes doesn't work. What do you do when you have square pegs and a round hole? Cut the hole to the shape you need!

That is Kelly's value. He changes the structure and environment. If Kelly is to be successful, it won't be because he forces the square peg of spread option to the round hole of NFL football.

Pace and execution will be his calling card.

In the mean time, Philadelphia needs a major talent upgrade in a lot of places. Until he can get that upgrade, the Eagles will be the most entertaining team treading water.

Greatest show on turf? Not really. That Rams offense was incredible. But he will provide the "funnest show on turf" until that upgrade happens. And, isn't that what football is supposed to be about? Fun. After all, as Kelly was quick to point out; football is a game. It should be fun.

Monday, September 9, 2013

DSA Tailgate: Tennessee Edition

Okay... THIS is the one we should all have circled on our calendars. This will be the chance to show SEC folks that we know how to tailgate!

First, I want to let you know we plan on having Bacon Wrapped BBQ Shrimp... DEEP FRIED as our special appetizer! This is something you do not want to miss!

Second, we tested our Clear Wireless set up at the last game and got excellent results. our television set this year is an upgrade to  a... 32 inch television for game days this year!

For those still unsure how to get there... we are at the WEST Serbu Youth Campus 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 -Tennessee
When: Sep. 14, 2013
Time: 8:30 AM local time
Where: Serbu Youth Center 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... looking forward to another great season of tailgating!

Scott Stadium, Montincello and the Ducks

This was a long trip. I chose to make it a short trip and flew in Thursday.

There were no rooms available in Richmond (NASCAR race this weekend) and none in Charlottesville for obvious reasons. We had a room for Friday and Saturday night, but after getting to Richmond at midnight and then driving to Charlottesville, I found myself staying at the airport!

Friday was my "vacation" day and we spent the day at Applebee's right next to the hotel. We had a great day, drank many, many cervezas and generally had fun.

As someone who is a "book hound" I felt it imperative that I make my way to Monticello. I got up early Saturday and was not disappointed with what I saw. It was incredible to be in the house where such brilliance originated.

From there we made our way to the press box where we had the most incredible comfort food spread we have experienced. Meat loaf, wrapped in bacon with bacon mashed potatoes! I could have eaten all day and not wanted to stop.

Unfortunately, my trip was marred by one big mistake; I forgot my power cord for the laptop... which died during the first half.

Oregon played about like I expected. Virginia has a big, physical and strong defensive line and it showed at times. There were some valuable lessons to be learned, but it was a good experience for this team to travel across country, struggle at times and yet come away with a convincing 49 point victory.

After the game, we got back to the room and drank some beer while watching Notre Dame and Texas lose.

I do have to say that Virginia was one of the most accommodating places we have travelled for football. The fans were gracious, the facilities, while not "brand new" were very nice for the most part and the staff really took care of all our needs.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Braxton Berrios thoughts

Today at Duck Sports Authority, I took a look at Braxton Berrios in a video analysis of his junior film.

There is a lot of positive in Berrios' film. Aside from academics that have garnered offers from the likes of Duke, Yale and Harvard, Berrios possesses the kind of skill set that will make some college team very happy.

One thing that stuck out, though, beyond the technical skills of his position and an athleticism that placed him 5th at the SPARQ national championships, is his versatility.

Something I did not cover in the video analysis is that Berrios frequently carries the ball out of the backfield as well as carrying the ball on fly sweeps. While he may not have the straight away speed of De'Anthony Thomas or Thomas Tyner, he has the kind of ability to be a multi-tool player in the Oregon offense.

Before Duck fans get too excited, though, it may be a while before we find out much from Berrios. He has stated that he wants to take more visits and will not be making his decision any time soon.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Manic Monday Episode 1: Helfrich calms the storm

I think this will be my new Monday "thing" as I continue to write personal thoughts here on top of my writing duties. Every Monday; even a holiday Monday seem to have their moments of mania.

The other reason it is apropos has to do with something that occurred to me while talking with Yahoo Sports Radio Saturday night after the game.

All off season the only thing anyone could talk about, with good reason, is what they thought would be the difference between Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.

Many speculated that the passing game might get more emphasis simply based on Helfrich's background as a quarterback coach who worked with some prolific passers in the past.

I thought any additional emphasis on the pass would be more related to the fact that Oregon is as deep at wide receiver as it has ever been and that even had Kelly been the coach this year, we might have seen the evolution to more passing.

After one game, well, there is no way to know for sure whether this team will pass more than in the past; there simply is not any evidence that can support any conclusion one way or the other. Yes. Oregon ran the ball against Nicholls State. They ran the ball a lot. But that does not necessarily imply they will continue to do so, only that against Nicholls, that was the game plan.

But I did see something different from Helfrich and that will be what might make the difference in where the program goes under his guidance.

Simply put, manic approach to every moment versus confident calmness.

Chip Kelly, in just about everything he did was always manic. He was like the kid with ADD; could never stop moving, talking; motioning; always seemed like his head was about to explode. That translated to the team at times as you could see them always seeming almost antsy.

Saturday, Helfrich showed a confident calmness that made everything seem slower.

With Kelly, Oregon jumped out to 50+ point leads and had the 4th team in by the third quarter.

Helfrich saw the team jump out to a 24 point first quarter. Then, more like what SEC teams do with a big early lead against an overmatched opponent, Oregon slowed down just a tad to work on some communications and fundamentals with the first units. Suddenly, a team that scored twice in the first four minutes of the game had slowed down some and looked "mortal" for the briefest of moments.

There was value, though, in this approach. In the past, with a 50 plus point lead, second and third team quarterbacks were relegated to handing the ball off and watching the backup running backs get continually stuffed.

Saturday those same quarterbacks had the full playbook in their arsenal; run; pass; zone reads; everything. This was a refreshing change as it gave Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues meaningful snaps rather than meaningless repetitions.

Whiel this approach may have made some wonder when it was still "just" 38-3, it seemed to have a lot more validity by the end of the game when Lockie had led two touchdown drives and Rodrigues another before ceding to walk-on Dustin Haines to run out the clock.

Chip Kelly's mania worked a lot of magic in four years. Maybe, just maybe, Helfrich's more calm approach will get Oregon over yet another hump. Those reps by Lockie and Rodrigues were important.

Would they have had the same opportunity in manic mode? Probably not.
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