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com/2012/04/oregon-ducks-football-good-copbad-cop-with-the-7-tou ghest-matchups-in-2012/ Oregon Ducks Football: Good Cop/Bad Cop with the 7 Toughest Matchups in 2012 Reported by Josh White on April 20, 2012 inFishWrap, FishWrap Archive | 0 Commen ts The line between a team achieving a 12-2 dream season and an 8-5 “rebuilding year” i s probably much narrower than many of us would like to admit. If the Oregon Duck s are fortunate enough to win a 4th consecutive Pac-10/12 conference crown in fo otball this coming year, there are sure to be some close calls along the way. Ar izona in ’09, Cal in ’10, USC, and even the Rose Bowl last season. The close calls can sometimes surface as maybe a shanked field goal at the whis tle, a drive-killing incomplete pass or turnover, or perhaps an actual “bad” call or overturned decision from a referee. Although no football game is decided by a single play, look no further than the post-season fate of the Ducks the previous two seasons to find the type of plays in question that can swing a contest to the advantage of one side. For example: Would the Ducks have been National Champions if Michael Dyer was instead ruled d own in the BCS National Championship Game instead of rumbling 39 yards to put th e team into game-winning field goal range? Or the opposite– How many more of you out there might still be questioning Chip Kelly’s offensive “sy stem” or ability to win big games if the fumble forced by Terrance Mitchell in the Rose Bowl had rolled out of bounds instead of sticking to the turf like it had been glued? What if Russell Wilson & co. had been given another play at the end? The truth is that many, many teams and their fans will point to a play or series of plays here or there that jilted their season in one direction or another. Pr ior to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin fans and players claimed they had only lost on “tw o lucky Hail Mary’s” against Michigan State and Ohio State. Were they implying the l osses should be devalued because they were close? Many Oregon fans similarly dis credited the USC loss because the Ducks could have forced OT had Maldenado’s best effort not hooked a few feet left. Some would say I am an extreme Oregon Ducks “homer,” because before each game for we ll over two decades now I have found a way every single Saturday to convince mys elf that the Ducks will win; that somehow the other team really doesn’t stand a ch ance. I read all the stories come out online the week before the game, examine a ll of the stats and story lines, and in my mind always decipher a clear advantag e in some way for the Ducks. While during my lifetime of 30 years, I have been correct (224-138-2) more often than not, and certainly at a better clip in recent years, have I been right all of the time? Of course not! But this is a part of what makes the game of football and sports in general so e ntertaining. Despite being supremely confident in the abilities of “my” team, I am a s ritualistic as a pro baseball player on game days. I have a lucky shirt, socks
, and hat combo reserved for the biggest games. Despite being insulated, and maybe best of all, distracted by all of this excess ive preparation, I still go into each contest as a ball of nervous energy. While watching each of the upcoming games this next season, I already know that I wil l be restless, anxious, and will likely feel the pulse thumping in my neck until I see Dustin Haines handing off to Kenny Bassett in the final minutes of a blow out win. The simple way to describe the feeling is fear: the basic fear of failure. “We exp ect to win, but, holy___! What if we lose?!?” Call it the duality of fan. For the most part, WE are not out there trying to make tackles or catch touchdow n passes on the field, but as fans we still feel a type of ownership of the outc ome of the games we put so much effort into attending on Saturdays during the fa ll. Even if we haven’t suited up in 20 years or never even played the game at all, those young men on the field are fighting on our behalf. No team wins every game, but nobody ever wants to lose one, either. Similar to a vice/addiction like gambling, it just feels a whole lot better when you win. To try and best showcase the sort of duality of feelings one might have going in to each game, below I have done my best to buck my homer-ish ways, and have a lo ok at the schedule when not viewed through Rose-Bowl-champion-colored-glasses. Below, I take a stab at an argument for and, ahem, against the Ducks in each of these 7 big upcoming games selected. Will the Ducks run the table in 2012? I can see it happening. Sure, why not? Of course, it’s easy to say so in April, who knows what may occur five months, five w eeks, or even five days from now that could cast a dark cloud over the sky-high expectations of 2012. Unfortunately for most of these 7 games, we most likely will not have the pleasu re of seeing too many Haines to Bassett exchanges. Buckle up for a ride along through the toughest matchups Oregon will likely face next season with GOOD COP/BAD COP!
Saturday, September 1st – Oregon Ducks vs Arkansas State Red Wolves GOOD COP: The first game of the season is always important no matter who you pla y. Michael Dyer reacts after hearing Arkansas St has to play at Oregon next year. This year? The Ducks get a crack at Arkansas St, coached by former Auburn Offens ive coordinator and noted spread guru Gus Malzahn. RB Michael “My wrist was down” Dy er transferred from Auburn and would have been playing in this game against the Ducks, except he purposely (IMO) had a run in with the law while organizing ille gal drug sales to avoid the game in Autzen. Despite Dyer’s absence–can you say, payback? The Ducks might have three (or more) p layers eclipse the 100 yard mark on the ground. Stay for the 4th quarter, and yo u can find me breathing easy in the stands as Dustin Haines hands off to Bassett over the left side for 3 yards. The Ducks win this one easy, and the Duck sets a new record for push-ups. It won’t make up for the Auburn game, but in a sense, i t will be like beating up Auburn’s little brother.
BAD COP: Malzahn has come out and said he wants to build “the Boise State of the s outh.” His offense is so user-friendly and catchy, the Red Wolves have mastered th e playbook by spring. They plug a 6’6″ 250 lb. defensive end with 4.5 speed in at qu arterback who can also throw 70 yards. He continues to fumble and throw picks th at repeatedly are reversed by the refs. The Ducks defense loses some key players to injury, and the backups struggle to play together and get stops. Dustin Hain es has to come in because every one else is injured, and the offense becomes one dimensional. However, down close late in the game, Haines takes matters into hi s own hands and keeps it on nearly every play, slashing and breaking tackles. Hi s final stat line passing is 8-18 for 84 yards with 1 td 1 int, and adds 18 carr ies for 60 yards, one fumble, and 3 touchdowns rushing. Nothing pretty, but the Ducks still get the win.
Saturday, September 22nd – Oregon Ducks vs Arizona Wildcats GOOD COP: Welcome to the world of football “out-west,” Rich-Rod! The crazy running Q B stuff you did at West Virginia and Michigan should fit right in here. However, no Nick Foles should mean no problems in this one for the Ducks. The journeyman coach may have a few old tricks up his sleeve that should perhaps produce more points, but this is his first year compared to Oregon being in year six of the s pread, and this will be the 4th year under Chip Kelly. The advantage in recruiti ng depth is just too much to overcome for the Wildcats. Last season, Nick Foles passed for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns on 57 attempts in Tucson. Luckily for Oregon, LaMichael James countered with a school-record 288 y ards rushing, and as a team the Ducks pounded away for 415 yards on the ground. Granted, these two players have moved on, but much of the Arizona defense has no t. Oregon’s pass coverage should be an improved unit, and Nick Foles was a special player who had one of the best games of his career. Rich Rod was overcome with emotion after noticing the away game in Autzen on the schedule Expect Oregon to again run wild, whether or not James is here taking the carries . Arizona will have a new look and new ways of getting the ball down the field o n offense, but the end results will still favor the Ducks. There may not be any more hilarious sideline temper tantrums or chants of “Get off the field Stoops!” bei ng yelled by fans this year, but no doubt the Autzen faithful will be ready to b ring the noise for the new guy. BAD COP: Arizona has been at the cusp of breaking through for years now, and the ir new coach will finally take them to that next level. The games against Oregon have been intense and hard fought the last several years, and the ‘Cat’s are due. T he players are refreshed and refocused without having to wear the lead straightjacket that was Mike Stoops. Rich Rod hits the ground running and the team impro ves quickly as a group. Oregon is victimized by turnovers and squanders some key possessions and opportunities. Arizona is able to capitalize, and they score ju st enough to hold on for the close win. The game is looked at as a monumental up set, and an early milestone for the beleaguered 1st year coach, and Arizona is t hrust into the national spotlight. Only for a short time though, as they fade la te in the season as usual.
Saturday, September 29th – Oregon Ducks @ Washington State (in Seattle) GOOD COP: Another high profile retread coach takes over a Pac-12 foe that has be en nipping at Oregon’s heels the last few years. Unlike the situation at Arizona,
I actually sort of like Mike Leach. The man has an entertaining personality and football philosophy, and he is a great quote. Despite my appreciation for what Leach has said and accomplished, all of that wa s thrown out the window the day he signed on at WSU. The Ducks will travel to Se attle to play in this one, making it a “neutral site.” What they should say is the g ame is being played in a “more realistic” site. Anyone who has made the drive to Pul lman knows exactly what I mean. I expect Oregon’s secondary and pass coverage will be put to the test, but I do not anticipate much resistance from the Coug D. An d the Cougar offense won’t be winning any shoot outs against these Ducks anytime s oon. Starting with the ’10 game in which Barner was injured on a memorable kick re turn, Wazzu has played Oregon tougher than most conference rivals. The Ducks thi s season will be on a mission though, and even the mad pirate is no match for Ch ip. BAD COP: Similar fears expressed about Arizona would fit here as well. Sure, Lea ch was fired from his last job too, but unlike Rich Rod, it wasn’t due to on field performance. Mike Leach had the Red Raiders at Texas Tech consistently in Big-1 2 title contention, and his offense is seemingly good for 400+ yard passing days each time out. Washington State hasn’t seen much consistent offensive production lately, but they haven’t always been the conference punching bag either. If Leach can transform the look of the on-field product in Pullman quickly, the Cougs cou ld possibly begin to reclaim some of their old glory. If the Cougs get a big day from their offense, and the defense somehow plays above their skill level they might be able to find a way to slow the Ducks enough to make this one interestin g.
Saturday, October 6th – Oregon Ducks vs Washington Huskies GOOD COP: It’s arguably the “Grand Daddy of them all” when talking about emotional cha rged rivalries and the Oregon Ducks. In a trend that many long time Duck fans st ill can’t quite believe or mention enough, Oregon has won 8-straight in the matchu p and this year the Dawgs have to come to our house. Washington has made improve ments on the offensive side of the ball under Sarkisian, but the defense has bee n laugh-out-loud-inept. Personally, I see the Huskies taking a step back on offe nse with the loss of Polk, but they really can’t get much worse on defense. With t wo former Ducks (Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon) joining the “Darkside” to help with th e defense, it’s only a matter of time before we should see marked improvement. The problem is that Oregon is still too good, too fast, and too deep for the Dawgs to win in Autzen. The Ducks take the 9th game in a row from the Montlake mutts. BAD COP: Washington has shown steady improvement the last few years, but their a chilles heel has been the fact that they wear purple and do not play defense. Gi ve credit to the Washington brain trust for recognizing this and going out and a ssembled the highest paid coaching staff in the conference, and begging Nike for uniform combinations to try and make the ugly go away. They say if you can’t beat them, then join them, and that is exactly what the Huskies have done in hiring two ex-Ducks, two ex-Bears, and one ex-beav. The Huskies are making some headway in the recruiting department too, headlined by the coup last-minute signing of 5-star prospect, Shaquille Thompson. As a true freshman, Keith Price began his college career in Autzen Stadium, and held up pretty well, despite a 38-point loss. Last year he was sacked six times, and battled knee injuries. This season, the new coaches and playing in the clin k will energize the Dawgs and boost their level of play. Price will now be fully healthy and in his 3rd year. Someone will emerge from the pack to replace the p roduction of Polk. On defense, the new coordinators will transform the unit, and this year’s game will be decided by the slimmest margin in years. The outcome wil l be in question if the new Ducks QB is surprised by some blitzing and coverage
schemes and commits a few too many unforced errors.
Saturday, November 3rd – Oregon Ducks @ USC Trojans GOOD COP: It’s the Football Game Of the Century, Pac-12 style, this year’s version c omes WITH Touchdowns! After an offseason of being motivated by last season’s loss to the Trojans, the Ducks come into this game like USC did last year; extremely focused and razor sharp on both sides of the ball. With a reshuffled offensive l ine, the Oregon pass rush is all over Barkley all game long. The new Ducks QB ha s a big day, connecting on some deep play action passes after setting up the def ense by pounding them with read, and option plays. De’Anthony again is the spark, and the Trojans Natty dreams go up in flames. BAD COP: Despite the recent sanctions, USC remains a step ahead of the rest of t he Pac in terms of talent. Last season, the Trojans earned a rare victory inside Autzen that served as a confirmation of what we all expected: you can’t keep USC down for long. They simply outplayed Oregon and used extremely accurate deep pas sing game to keep the chains moving. They jumped out to an early lead, and held on as the Ducks mounted a late come back. The Trojans roster returns virtually t he entire crew from last year, and it would seem that the game being played at t he Coliseum would be advantage USC. How will the Ducks fair without Thomas, Jame s, Weems, Asper, and Paulson? Matt Barkley has been known to talk a little trash during Oregon week, will the Ducks have enough to shut him up this time?
Saturday, November 17th – Oregon Ducks vs Stanford Cardinal GOOD COP: Last season, Oregon made a statement by hammering Stanford and causing all kinds of problems for the future #1 pick, Andrew Luck. During the game, two things were obvious: 1) The Cardinal did not have the team speed to keep up wit h Oregon’s offense, and, 2) Andrew Luck had nobody fast enough to get open against the Ducks’ defense. The Ducks continuously throttled Stanford with Luck, what will happen without hi m? Next year’s edition will follow a similar script, sans the world class QB wearing red & white. Without Luck on the field, the Cardinal will have no luck moving th e ball, and the defense will have no luck stopping Oregon. Stanford snagged an i mpressive class of incoming linemen, but great linemen and only marginal skill g uys usually means a low scoring team. Combine that with a less than elite defens e, and we could have ourselves a blow out in Autzen. Don’t worry Cardinal fans, yo u’ll have another Plunkett/Elway/Luck type in another 20 years or so. BAD COP: Stanford coach David Shaw was quick to call his new group of freshman l inemen the “best in college football history” and he was right. Nobody can get past these guys, and the big hogs manage to out-muscle everyone on the schedule. True freshman Barry Sanders Jr is a carbon copy of his dad, one of the greatest play ers in all of football history. Behind a massive offensive line, Sanders squirts and darts his way through and around any defense. David Shaw works up an innova tive defensive game plan that the players execute perfectly to stifle the Ducks offensive attack, while the Cardinal running game keeps the clock moving.
Saturday, November 24th – Civil War Oregon Ducks @ OS(u) Beavers
GOOD COP: 2007. That was the last time the beavs claimed a victory in the Civil War. In that game, Oregon used 5th string freshman QB Cody Kempt, a pocket passe r with more of a baseball background who left the team after the season. Since t he transcendent 65-38 rout in 2008, the stakes for the Ducks have never been hig her entering the annual match up of good vs inbred. In ’09 Masoli ran over some us eless defensive back to secure a trip to the Rose Bowl. In ’10, Casey Matthews set the tone immediately with a decapitation of beaver QB Ryan Katz, and the Ducks left Reser headed to the Natty. Last season, Oregon pounded the punchless rodent s again to claim another trip to Pasadena. The beavs have fallen way behind in t he rivalry as of late, and their 3-9 season last year was flat out embarrassing. There are no more Rodgers brothers, but there is more optimism in Corvallis this season simply based on the fact that it would be difficult to do much worse. Th e beavs rushing attack ranked #118 out of 120 FBS teams and will return their of fensive line mostly intact, which is awesome news for all of their opponents nex t season. If another below average season and a blowout loss in the Civil War un folds, will that be enough for the sheep herders to show their boy Riley the doo r? BAD COP: Who am I kidding? The beavs still don’t stand a chance! And, just for fun.. Edit 1 inShare 0digg Categories: FishWrap, FishWrap Archive Popular & Related Posts
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