We’ll cut to the chase:
1. Gary Campbell is a coaching superhero. Forget all about Thor, Ironman or Tony Robbins, I want running backs coach Campbell as my life coach and mentor.
Remember those early season complaints that Byron Marshall didn’t have the vision, patience or explosion to stay ahead of Thomas Tyner on the depth chart? I predicted to several Duck fans that Tyner and Marshall would come close to splitting snaps against Wazzu last Saturday.
This prediction was not because of deficiencies in Marshall’s game. Instead, it was because Campbell has been progressively bringing along his newest talent, getting him acclimated to the schemes and speed of the college game.
Marshall’s breakout performance this weekend of 192 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns, will be looked back upon as a turning point in his young career. After several solid games by Ducks’ running game standards, we witnessed another week where a sophomore (see: Bralon Addison vs Cal/Colorado) grew into a superstar right before our very eyes. Through three decades of coaching, four head coaches and countless running attacks, the most consistent producer in Oregon athletics is Gary Campbell.
2. “Paging Mister Peppers, your son is waiting for you at Gate B-4.” I have been saying for the last couple of weeks that DeForest Buckner reminds me of someone – and that someone is Chicago Bears’ all-pro defensive end Julius Peppers.
Look at the raw physical stats, where Peppers is listed on the Bears’ website at 6-foot-7, 287 pounds. Buckner is listed on Oregon’s website at 6-foot-7, 286 pounds. These guys are lean, long-armed, with special motors and mean streaks.
The similarities don’t stop there. Both possess outstanding versatility in their game, utilizing a blend of explosive speed and strength off the ball. Since his 230-pound high school scouting bio weigh-in, DeForest has put on 56 pounds. That’s half a Jonas brother.
The Ducks have the best strength and conditioning program in the country, and Buckner is a prime example. He is currently third on the team with 2.5 sacks through seven games. By the end of his Ducks’ career, Mr. Peppers-Buckner is likely to become the biggest steal of the 2012 Oregon signing class.
3. “Back in ’82, I used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter-mile.” – Uncle Rico, Napoleon Dynamite. Conner Halliday is no Uncle Rico as far as arm strength, but he sure looks like Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder. There is no technical football commentary to (this) point, just a dated pop-culture reference reach, but it leads us to point 4 . . .
4. Pirates fight dirty. We have read Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti’s BS-bomb-laced postgame rant calling out WSU’s “we-want-the-longest-timed-blowout-record” play-calling strategy. WSU Head Coach Mike Leach has nine pointed words in a prepared response to Mr. Aliotti: “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.” Coach Leach doesn’t care about whiny coaches concerned with player safety. He doesn’t care that his poor quarterback single-handedly pioneered a new football statistical category entitled “Pitch Count.”
Leach had only one very pirate-ish thing on his mind: buried treasure. Last night, only die-hard fans and die-hard gamblers stayed up until 2 a.m. EST, to watch extra paid commercial breaks to see if Wazzu would cover the million-point spread (they did at +24) or break the NCAA ‘passing attempts’ record (Halliday did with 89 throws in 8-and-1/3 innings). To quote the immortal words of Notorious B.I.G.: ”Mo money, mo passes. Aarrrghh.”
5. Finally, the Ducks, and specifically Marcus Mariota, proved in this game against the Cougars, that they are indeed human after all. This is the same Wazzu team that came within a touchdown of victory – on the road – at Auburn – in SEC territory — and beat USC in the Coliseum. [Ed note: the Tigers stand at (6-1, 3-1)]
It isn’t an indictment of the Ducks that Washington State was able to keep the game from getting away from them in the first half. This is college football, a sport where matchups, injuries and scheme adjustments impact team performance from week-to-week.
There is a reason why the Pac-12 has been improving, and that reason is better coaching. Ask any ranked SEC team fan base not named Alabama or Missouri, if they would trade their upset loss on Saturday for a comfortable, but flawed, victory vs an improving program.
As the Mighty Ducks, we have much to cheer for and many points to continue to improve upon, as we prepare for UCLA. Isn’t that the very context from which the motto “Win The Day,” was birthed?
7-0 should feel quite good after Separation Saturday. To all Duck fans – make sure to take some time and enjoy the win this week.----------------------------------------
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