Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Win the day? Long gone

After the debacle in the desert, I had hoped that the leaders of the Oregon football team might figure out that they had begun to stray too far from the mentality that led to a 46-7 record over 4 seasons, including a 33-3 record in conference play.

Well, it looks like those days are gone forever. Mark Helfrich cannot grasp the concept; apparently.

Today, Kerry Eggers has a quote from Helfrich that says:

"It's more important this week for us to play better, for us to execute, to compete, to play our way."
Do you see that? The head coach of the University of Oregon has said that one game is more important than any other. And that is a problem. The moment you allow yourself to say that Game A is more important than Game B, you also allow yourself a different preparation mentality for each game. If Game B is less important, so too is the preparation for Game B.

As a power lifter, every single set I perform has to have the exact same set up, the exact same form; everything has to be the same. So when I am warming up, I approach the bar at 135 pounds the same as I do for 550 pounds; consistency is what makes greatness possible. Inconsistency breeds mediocrity.

Former Heisman front runner Marcus Mariota has joined the parade of players lending more weight to a rivalry game than other games telling Eggers:

"But no, in all honesty, talking around the community, this game does mean a lot," the sophomore quarterback from Honolulu said. "It means a lot to the state. It's an honor to be able to play in it. To be able to represent this community the best we can is what we're going to try to do."
Look, I love rivalries as a FAN... but that is who rivalries should be for; the fans. Media can talk about rivalries; fans can talk about them as well. The moment players begin to add special value to one game versus another, they begin to breed inconsistency.

The only game that matters more than any other game? Right now, it is the BCS title game. Next season it is that first playoff game, followed by the second playoff game.

After reading the talk about this week's Civil War, I am more convinced than ever that Mark Helfrich has abandoned the Win The Day mentality where each game was "the Super Bowl."

I doubt that translates to a loss this coming Friday; but it does not necessarily bode well for the future.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

There is no armour to have chinks

Today's game, while it had plenty of execution errors that lay at the feet of the players, was not about the players. It was about coaching.

Right now, Mark Helfrich looks to be in way over his head.

When you have a Ferrari, and give the keys to someone who has never driven a car before, you probably ought to expect a car wreck.

The last three games have been exactly that; a car wreck.

After the Stanford loss, I said that the practices this year have lacked the discipline of previous years. I heard that from someone who would absolutely know and it shows on the field.

This team is acting without discipline at just about every turn. Players are talking out of turn; coaches are talking about things that were not talked about under Chip Kelly.

Mark Helfrich looks like a deer in the headlights. He is trying to be Chip Kelly in the interview room, but seems to be going through the mimicking motions on game day. The flow of the offense is clearly different as they have, pretty much, abandoned the run first attitude of the Oregon offense.

There was a lot of talk about the "Oregon Way" earlier this season when an unnamed defender put notice to Thomas Tyner that he was just another cog in the wheel and not a superstar. Unfortunately, there are signs that the Oregon Way has been lost in translation this season.

The Oregon Way is not about telling players not to be superstars; it is about an ever present overpowering focus on every detail. Kelly reeled in players that talked out of turn. And Kelly made the "Win The Day" mentality a daily approach to everything this team did on and off the field. Every game was the Super Bowl.

Helfrich has abandoned this as well. Well, maybe Helfrich hasn't in his own mind, but he HAS allowed his team to abandon this mindset. We have heard coaches talk about rivalries and revenge. We have herd players talk about being disappointed in the Rose Bowl, apparently forgetting that a Rose Bowl berth means the team has WON a conference title.

To be fair, I understand the thoughts that Josh Huff and De'Anthony Thomas were trying to convey; in a season where the team (and fans) truly believed that they were headed back to the National Championship Game, losing out on that opportunity IS disappointing. The difference is that under Kelly, no one would have talked about the title game in the first place.

Helfrich has allowed the team to soften in their approach to many things. And that has followed on to the field.

Can the problems be fixed? Yes. But it's going to take a little bit of personality transplant from the staff.

The Pac-12 has had a tremendous influx of coaching talent in the past couple of seasons and the rest of the conference is starting to catch up to the Ducks. If Oregon wants to continue to be a factor in the national title discussion every year, the coaches are going to have to up the ante on themselves.

Win the day? These coaches need to win the off-season. Otherwise, Oregon could find themselves in the same territory as Washington within a year... perennial bowl team which is not a factor in the conference title race.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend recruiting thoughts

This past weekend, the Ducks hosted four official visitors. While three of those visitors, Budda Baker, Chris Brown and Oregon commit Morgan Mahalak were expected, the fourth was not expected.

Glen Ihenacho (a name former Duck Cliff Harris would have to love since it ends in "nacho"), a safety from Serra High School in Gardena, California, surprised most fans with his visit.

There had been reports that his team mate, five star all-everything athlete Adoree Jackson would be in Eugene for his fifth and final official visit. Unfortunately for Duck fans, Jackson, feeling fatigued from having made trips on the prior two weekends, decided to stay home.

While Oregon is not out of the running for an official visit, let's not overlook his team mate.

Some might question why the Ducks are bringing this player in so late in the process when few had talked about him prior to his arrival.

There are plenty of reasons that he may be visiting, many of which are neither good nor bad; just the reality of college football.

Oregon currently has a commit from junior college defensive back Dominique Harrison and a four-star recruit from San Anotonio, Arrion Springs.

While Springs seems solid, it could be that other targets are looking less likely. Oregon has been linked to players like Mattrell McGraw and Montae Nicholson for that third defensive back slot thought to be available.

It could also be a sign that Oregon intends to possibly take four defensive backs with this class. There is an increasingly likely chance that the Ducks will lose one of their two standout cornerbacks as an early entry to the NFL draft. In fact, there is always the chance both would choose to leave.

While the Ducks will be fine next year with backups Troy Hill and Dior Mathis having plenty of experience, Oregon will need to restock their depth for the future.

Ihenacho is not some run of the mill high school defensive back. He has a legitimate offer list and has good size. He seems to be the type of player that can play as a nickel back or free safety.

Tuesday, for Duck Sports Authority, I will take a look at his film in our next Prospect Analysis piece.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Growing from within

Yes. I am a hard cat to understand at times. Many times, I don't really understand myself... I just live and react.

The reality is that I am a person who takes many things far too seriously. When I write, I am cool with criticism of the content. What I am not cool with is criticism of my process. While I am not someone who works in the field of traditional journalism, I approach everything I write, even my blog entries, with a certain integrity in mind.

I would never, under any circumstances, make up a source. Nor would I ever print anything I felt to be skeptical or untrue. This is especially true of anything that casts the Oregon program in an negative light.

To have someone even hint that this might be the case is something I will respond to emotionally. Yes. I get it, people will disagree with my writing. Sometimes my opinion will differ from theirs. And, you know what, that's okay. I have never once taken umbrage to critical commentary about the specifics of what I have to say.

What I do take offense to is someone questioning my integrity. And, yes, I take that personal.

So? Sue me.

The reality is that there are many things I am thinking about as a method to create the kind of distance I need from an audience in order to sustain that ability to slough off what may be said about a story.

This whole episode has helped me as a person to learn where my mistakes have been. I have been too close to my stories at times; too close to my readers at other times. I have invested a lot of time and energy into providing as much information as possible.

I could not even begin to tell you how many hours I spent attempting to perfect the HTML code for an article; or even this blog! I take everything I write very seriously. From the presentation to the words themselves. Writing is a process and it is an art.

Am I the best? Well, I would tend to say that the lack of knocks on the proverbial door would indicate the demand for my skills to be somewhat lacking. I recognize I am just another guy who writes a blog. But I still take it serious and my integrity should NEVER be in question.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Talk about ridiculous

A few years ago, there was an hour long special called "The Decision" about Lebron James' free agent choice... today, we get an hour long special about a high school kid picking a college?

Talk about ridiculous.

I have, thus far REFUSED to participate in the twitter promotion of this event and will continue that refusal.

Somethings are just TOO ridiculous to be a part of. Yes. I write for a Rivals website; yes, I was asked to promote it. I will not formally denounce it on twitter to respect my ultimate employer, but I have to vent at just how sublimely stupid this whole process is getting.

Will it ever end?

Please. Apparently, some people cannot read.

This is a PERSONAL BLOG... does anyone get that? Really? Because what I write here is NOT a "story" that is made for the same kind of public consumption as my "work" for the site. These are simply longer versions of my opinions.

Simply put, I used this as an extension of a message board. And, guess what, when i write things on a personal blog that get attacked, I take that differently than my actual FREAKING ARTICLES. Are people too STUPID to know the difference? Apparently so.

Oy. I am done with this topic and am getting VERY tired of this whole thing.

Earlier this season I sent a tweet out that said the 2013 season was going to change everything for me... guess that has proven to be true... and it may cause further changes.

For the most part; I am done with a lot of things after this season.

Tailgating will be forever changed for us; as will game day experience.

Yes; I write for a website. But those articles and my blog are a different animal. I am very tired of ALL of this and just want it to stop. That may mean bigger changes are coming.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A farewell to brothers in arms

So I am playing with two different titles in two different genres here, but the point will be made.

Yesterday I came to a difficult decision that maintaining a message board presence on the only Duck recruiting site that I personally use, Duck Sports Authority, had become too cumbersome. I deleted a thread I had started and announced through this blog my intention to no longer spend my time on the message boards.

I want to take the time to explain that a little deeper; and hope that this message gets back to the members who remain active on DSA Stadium Club and the Casanova Center message boards. Feel free to link this post and or copy and paste.

I may go back and explain myself.

Let me start by saying I have been a member of DSA for nearly 10 years and have met a lot of very amazing people. The DSA Tailgates have given me plenty of opportunity to meet people who share my passion for and intelligence of Duck football. I was simply a member of a large community of Duck fans.

In my capacity as a member, pretty much, most people saw my comments for what they were worth; an opinion. Rarely was a disagreement anything to get up in arms about. We were all brothers in arms cheering for the same football team. Disagreements were nothing more than differences that we sometimes had to just agree to disagree.

Two years ago, that began to change. It was never my intention to become a "writer" so to speak. I was commenting on several different message board threads, including Rob Moseley's Register Guard blog, about things I had read about which contradicted, to some degree, information that had been released about the Will Lyles saga.

That's it. It would have stopped there, by A.J. asked me to do more; so I did. I have been friends with AJ for nearly as long as I have been a member of Duck Sports Authority.

The duties began to grow in 2012 as we had a little bit of a DSA retreat to plan how we would approach the season.

As soon as I started accepting a press pass to home and road games; I became a writer and not a poster.

But I had maintained my DSA nickname of "ducks39" until earlier this year when Rivals kind of forced the change. At that point, though I did not recognize it, I was no longer "just" a poster or "just" an admin; I was a paid member of the press. Nonetheless, I continued posting like a regular member of the DSA community.

Yesterday I recognized that I was no longer just a member of the board. Even though my post was through my personal blog, it was not viewed as it was intended; just a long post I preferred to put away from the message boards. Instead it was viewed as if written for DSA.

When it became clear to me that I no longer had the immunity of a DSA poster was the moment someone asked if TMZ was in my future and then compared me to Canzano.

Everyone should know that I am not, nor will I ever be, a "muckraker." Yet, there it was.

Yes, those comments in the thread were personally insulting and untrue. Those were the reason I deleted the thread. Personally, I could care less if other posters disagree with me. But to call me a muckraker; to imply I should work for TMZ and compare me to Canzano was a personal insult. It made the thread unproductive as all I could see was a backlash of people competing to prove either side of that muck raking argument. There was no value there so I made a decision.

Maybe I should have just "locked" the thread. But the choice has been made and I cannot undo it at this point so it is something we will all have to live with.

But back to my point. I am not leaving the site; I am not leaving the boards completely. I will still be there to post my official stories in the appropriate message board. If there is a specific question about something, I may pop in to answer the question.

What has become clear, though, is that my position, as a writer for Duck Sports Authority and Rivals.com changes the manner in which I am viewed on the site. That's okay, I probably should have changed my approach long ago.

I held on a little too tight and lost the edge a little.

I will no longer get involved in conversations like before and will no longer link to my personal blog.

I hope everyone understands that this is just the next evolution of my existence on DSA. If ever comes the time I stop writing for the site, I will likely come back as a "regular" member and re-involve myself in regular conversations. In the mean time, my approach will be a little more distant.

The disagreements are fine. I am okay with people not agreeing with everything I say. In fact, I expect there to be differences of opinion. However, in order to separate my personal emotion as a member of the message board community and my responsibility as a writer for the site, I feel I must step back and accept that my role changes the manner in which I can participate.

I hope this helps explain why I have made my decision.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me via twitter and I will try to answer them in that manner.

Thanks to all my brothers in arms at Duck Sports Authority. My friends outside of the boards will remain my friends. DSA Tailgates are still open to all members; even the ones who think I should be working for TMZ and compare me to Canzano! You will still see three articles per week from me and a game analysis piece. We plan to start providing podcasts again soon. I am not going away from the site, I am simply backing off as an active member of the message board community.

Personal Anecdote from the life of a power lifter

One of the great things about having a blog that is mine, I can post about things completely unrelated to Oregon football!

Today is such an occasion.

Over the past 6 weeks, there have been some struggles for me away from football and work. Several weeks ago, I had a tooth become infected that caused a bunch of other issues.

I have maintained my body weight at a competition level of 235 pounds for nearly 15 years. As a competitive power-lifter, this was something that was difficult for me, yet important.

Then; suddenly; my weight began to drop for no reason. I thought I had been maintaining my same dietary intake even through the tooth pain. I had the tooth extracted which caused one day worth of change, but I had already lost 10 pounds by then.

The following Tuesday, as I got to the gym at the same prescribed time as always, I was down another 3 pounds for the week. As I looked down, I noticed a large lump on my left arm right by my elbow. There had been some minor pain in that arm that day, but I thought it was simply the muscle being tight from an awkward sleeping position.

After struggling with my lift that night, I went straight to the doctor. At the time, I was a little bit worried. Significant weight loss; big painful lump on my arm that appeared from nowhere. Okay, I admit it, I was more than a little worried.

I was skeptical when he said "don't worry about the weight loss, come back in two weeks if you keep losing weight. The lump is soft fatty tissue, probably a lipoma and the pain is tennis elbow."

Uh, sure doc.

Then he suggested not lifting weights for a couple of weeks. Well telling me not to lift weights for two weeks is like telling anyone else not to breathe for two weeks.

So, I worked through it. Slowly but surely, the pain in my arm has started to fade. The lump actually appears to be getting better, even though lipoma's are not supposed to just "go away" and my weight has rebounded to the point where I am back to 235 pounds again.

So tonight, we are in the second week of a 13 week wave program and it was a great workout. Near the end of the workout, on the fourth set, my training partner and I played a little game of bench press poker.

I told him I was about to change my last set and go up by 10 pounds. He hates it when I up my weight without telling him; so he decided to up his weight... he saw my 10 pounds and raised me by 10! Uggghhhh...

But it went great. Here was my rep scheme:

365x4, 385x3, 375x4, 415x3 (the last set was supposed to be 395... damn me and my competitiveness!)

That last set was FUN! (Not really, but it was awesome to get through that weight.)

So, yeah, I was happy with our workout tonight!

Mucraking? Me?

Not likely. that is the simplest answer I can give.

In the thread yesterday that I deleted, there were some comments comparing my story about discipline to John Canzano and the Oregon fans perception that he uses mucraking, yellow-journalistic style to create stories.

I am not one to debate that he and I have had our differences of opinion on occasion. In Flock Talk a couple of weeks ago, I derided his tactic in the release of the players letter criticizing Oregon fans. I never thought it a good story given he had more information that he chose to with hold in order to create a more salacious headline.

Now, to be fair, we do not know if it was Canzano himself, or an editor that chose to with hold that information. Often times, editors will change online stories to get those hits without the knowledge or consent of the writer. Technically speaking, they are his bosses and do not need his permission.

My article is a sensitive subject with Canzano. He wasn't very talkative when I broached the topic outside Stanford Stadium last Thursday. Oh well. I told the story I had from the other side of the coin.

Yes, when it comes to the discussion on the DSA Stadium Club message board, I took my ball and went home. Was that the most mature thing to do? Not likely. But, you know what, it was a thread I started; so therefor my ball. While others may not like it, I have the right to take my ball and not play anymore.

The reality is that the burden of trying to do too much simply wore me down and I made my decision. Some people will like it, some won't. It should be noted that any other threads discussing this choice were not deleted. Not my ball.

But comparing me to Canzano for a BLOG entry about discipline is asinine. Simply put, any one who makes that comparison does not want the truth.

First, headlines in the Oregonian and other mainstream periodicals are designed to get play; not just locally but regionally and nationally. Newspapers make money doing this.

What does my blog "make" when I write something? NOTHING. Barely anyone reads the stories. In total, after 48 hours, that story has 431 total hits... and that includes mine. I did not do much to publicize it other than link to it on the DSA message boards. Sure, others have linked to it... but still, 431 hits in 48 hours is hardly a blip in the real world.

The reality is that most people think that all sources should either be named or they are worthless. Well, gee, if you want inside information, you occasionally (close to always) have to go with an unnamed source. If I had named the people that told me about practices, two things would happen.

1) They would lose their inside access
2) I would lose my information

Neither of those are a method to maintain a source.

One commenter said that this differed from other pieces I had written because the research was more thorough in other pieces. Really? I used an unnamed source (family member) in the original Lache Seastrunk series. In this article, I used statistics to compare this year to last year. And I used an unnamed source.

The reality is that this is something some people don't want to hear. As a Duck fan, anything that paints the team in a negative light is not supposed to come out of this writer's words? Sorry; doesn't work that way.

This is a BLOG; I say what I feel; I say what I know. There is a reason I did not make the story an official story. Don't like it? Not my problem. The truth is what it is. I have been talking for WEEKS about the issues I had been seeing in film review.

Yes. I record the games. Yes, I rewatch the games using slow motion and freeze frame to see these issues.

Just because you do not want to hear the problems does not negate their existence.

Muckraking? Me? Not even close. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Most maligned player in Oregon history?

The last home game brought about a moment I am most embarrassed by; the booing of a college player. Has there ever been a more maligned player in Oregon history than Alejandro Maldonado?

Criticism of players is fair game in my opinion; it is what we do. But as George Wrightster told me last week, it is okay to criticize the performance, but not to insult the person or his family. Booing a college player, to me, extends beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.

While there is scholarship money provided, and I will be the first to say that the money is close to sufficient compensation for their work (excepting that the scholarship should reflect true cost of attendance), these are still NOT professional athletes.

The common theme is that "he (Maldonado) cost us (Oregon) two shots at the National Title in a row."

Um, no he did not. Sorry to say, but anyone who thinks that Oregon was going to get a rematch with LSU in 2011 is drinking a really good SPIKED kool-aid. It would not have mattered had the Ducks beaten USC in 2011, the perceived manner of their defeat to LSU combined with Alabama's perception would have kept Oregon out of the title game regardless. Stop using the green goggles; just wasn't happening.

As for 2012, why don't people blame Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (who dropped a sure fire pick 6); or De'Anthony Thomas (whose missed block stopped a would be touchdown)? Both plays would equally have changed the outcome of the game.

We could also blame Chip Kelly whose refusal to try anything new resulted in repeating the same situation hoping for a different result.

The difference from a fan perspective is that each of those other players has dozens of opportunities, so one mistake seems less important. A kicker, meanwhile, is in for so very few plays that any mistake is magnified.

I get that.

It's just too bad that Oregon fans feel the need to belittle someone who committed to playing football as a student-athlete and simply came up short in a couple of magnified instances.

This week Mark Helfrich ended what is perhaps the most over-scrutinized two plays in college football since the words "wide right" were etched into the psyche of Florida State fans.

With the promotion of Matt Wogan, Alejandro Maldonado's Oregon placekicking career is virtually over; barring injury.

I want to take the time to thank Maldonado for his efforts and perseverance. It takes a strength most of the boo-birds cannot muster to keep coming back from failure and trying.

For those of you that booed him; well, I am glad I don't sit next to you.

Myopia runs amok

So, just a funny anecdote that in many ways disappoints me after having defended Oregon fans.

I see some commentary today about the "smirk" on David Shaw's face during the game last Thursday and how much Oregon fans dislike his demeanor.

Wasn't it less than a year ago that those same fans would defend the "smirk" on Chip Kelly's face during games and after? Wasn't Kelly one whose demeanor made fans of other schools so angry that Oregon fans would argue bitterly that they just did not understand him?

Please. What exactly is David Shaw supposed to do when a game goes as good as he could have expected, be apologetic in his appearance? Somber? Cry?

Get over it.

End of an era of sorts

This has been weighing on my mind the entire 2013 season.

I love football. Specifically, I love college football. When I started this blog, it was as a response to a request from other Duck fans to put all of my thoughts on a specific topic in one site. So I did.

After that, the story, thanks to the NCAA, refused to die for more than two years. During that time I was asked by a friend for more formal stuff; and I took on that challenge. I have written a lot of stuff over the last two years. Mostly positive stuff along with occasional negative stuff.

What I have noticed is my passion for a sport I love begin to diminish; that is bound to happen.

But it is not diminishing simply because I write about the team. I only have so many hours in a day and I have been trying to get too much into each day which has begun to drain my mental resources.

I have spread myself too thin.

So, I have been contemplating methods to take off some of the load without giving up the things I enjoy. Writing happens to be something I enjoy, so i don't want to give that up.

It occurred to me today, as I was slacking on some of the work that actually pays my bills to respond to a thread I had created, that I knew where the area I could cut back was... and it was right in front of my face.

I spend far too much time monitoring our message boards, trying to respond to everyone and be a resource. But, you know what, that is not my job; nor is it part of my writing obligations for the site. And it can get quite draining to always feel like I have to spend that time on the boards.

Worse yet is that my opinions, because of my role as a writer, get taken at a different level. What I write here is considered an extension of my writing for Duck Sports Authority. While that should not be the case; it is the case. I have been commingling my opinions with my writing duties and that creates a lot of confusion for everyone.

So, today, I have decided that any and all thoughts I have outside of my articles will be shared here. And no where else. I will, of course, continue to have a live game thread for every Duck game I cover for the site; but that's it in the comment world.

That means if you want to know what I am thinking, you have to come here.

I deleted a thread today because it was simply unproductive and was not generating the kind of conversation it should have generated.

So, you will see me post my stories on the appropriate message board. And you will see commentary in love game threads. But that's it for me and comments. Want more? Gotta come here.

By the way, ALL thoughts shared on here will have the comment section blocked . This will make my life so much easier to deal with. No more monitoring or responding. I am done with that.

From now on, you get my articles, and that's about it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

More chinks in the armour

"Practice? We're talking about practice?"

Yes, Allen Iverson, we are going to talk about practice.

Iverson was famously quoted after missing some practice time and, while some diminish the importance of practice, I am not wont to do so.

Coaches often bark out that they want to see you practice like you're going play. They want the same kind of focus, energy and attention to detail as they are going to expect in a game. The best players can rarely practice half assed and "turn it on" for a game.

While speed and aggression may be turned up just a notch on game day with the emotions of the competition, focus, attention to detail and discipline do not magically appear on game day; they must be part of your preparation.

Football is a unique sport because it involves 11 players who all depend on each other to be in the right spot, at the right time in order to be successful. If less than 10 percent of a unit makes a mistake, the play will likely fail.

At the beginning of a season, there are often kinks to be worked out. Teams need time to get the feel of a game going and start firing on all cylinders. The NFL has pre-season partially for this very reason (the other reason, of course, is player evaluation to make roster cuts) while college football has non-conference games to help with this rhythm. While no one wants to necessarily see the slaughter of an inferior team, those games help make teams better.

At teh beginning of the 2013 season, the Oregon Duck football team was not only breaking in several new players, as all college football teams do every year, they were also breaking in a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator. Though things looked good on the surface through the fist several games; but there were cracks that did not show much until the Ducks played Stanford.

I don't think the Stanford game was lost because the "Ducks aren't big enough." Utah does not have anywhere near the talent or depth along either the offensive or defensive line, but they handed the Cardinal their lone loss of the season.

This story is not about the Stanford loss; but about the bigger problem that leads to the losses.

While coaches say that you play how you practice, that means there can be a lot of inference about a team's practice habits based on their game performance.

The 2013 Ducks, simply put, lack discipline on offense; specifically the offensive line. Watching the UCLA game on tape, there were plenty of mistakes that went unnoticed because other players overcame those mistakes; that can happen when a team has the superior offensive players and a speed and depth advantage.

What happens, though, when a team that lacks discipline comes across a team that has the same talent level, but more discipline? Well, the team without discipline tends to lose that match-up.

I have heard from more than one person who has been inside a practice session this season that this team does not practice with the same kind of discipline this year as in years past. It shows.

Jake Fisher has had more 15 yard penalties than I care to count; most of them are discipline issues and not effort penalties. He has seemingly committed at least one such penalty in every game he has played this season.

The Duck football team is 115th in the nation in penalites; only seven teams have more yards per game in penalties than Oregon. That is a lack of discipline.

Other areas where Oregon is markedly less effective this season include red zone efficiency where the Ducks scored over 90% of the time last season with a TD ratio of 80.8 percent. This season those numbers have dropped to 75.9 and 68.5 % respectively.

The difference is even more striking on fourth down conversions where Oregon converted 64.5 % of the time in 2012 and are converting just 45.8 percent this season. The list could go on, including what the defense allows in those situations. Suffice it to say, though, that the 2012 team was better in just about every manner.

More troubling, though, is that it was not the players who were the problem last Thursday. The coaches asked us to blame them after the game. They should be blamed. The lack of discipline on this team is striking and is at the core of the teams problems this season. Many of those problems were masked by margins of victory so lopsided that the signs were missed by many.

Marcus Mariota, at 100%, can overcome so many problems. His ability overshadowed those deficiencies. His inability to do so Thursday was magnified by significantly better competition.

No, Thursday's debacle lay squarely on the shoulders of the coaches as it should.

The Ducks were moving the ball effectively during the first two drives. It seemed as if, once the team fell behind 14-0, the coaches pressed some sort of panic button; and the players responded to that panic.

Teams play how they practice; teams mimic their coaches emotions.

On Thursday, much of the cracks in teh armour came to light.

Fear not, though, as the head coach and offensive coordinator are VERY young and will learn from this game.

I do not get the impression that we are back to "Bellotti Ball" with this staff. Mike Bellotti was "old-school" in his approach to football. He punted on fourth down, kicked field goals from 42 yards in, unless he was "forced" into fourth down conversion attempts.

Mark Helfrich has a little too much Dan Hawkins and not enough Nick Saban in him. I expect that to change.

You can be sure that Helfrich is smart enough to recognize the lack of discipline now. It's easy to overlook when your closest game is a 21 point victory on the road. It is impossible to ignore when you get dominated for three plus quarters.

If he ignores it now, then there are bigger problems ahead than the size of any lineman. Let us all hope that the size and physicality of the Oregon offensive and defensive linemen are our biggest concern.
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