If you are looking for an explanation as to why the Ducks lost, you’ve come to the wrong place. Likewise, if you are looking for someone to point a finger at, again, turn around now. I know, probably not the best way to begin this article, but I have a lot to say with an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
Let me make this point right now: I think the Ducks have some of the best talent in college football. I am excited to be a Duck fan, no matter any outcome. I implore any Duck fan to be the same. Thursday’s loss against the Wildcats does not define our season. There is no curse of the Ducks. I love Oregon football. Nothing will ever change that. Through every triumph and every loss, true fans should wear the Oregon “O” proudly.
Remember when the Ducks struggled for a winning record?
The game could have gone in several other directions. Bad calls happen. Do I think that the Arizona fumble in the second half that was returned for a Ducks touchdown should have been six points for the Ducks? Yes. Did Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost have our playbook on lockdown? It sure felt like it.
Do I think that the personal foul call against Tony Washington in the fourth quarter was bogus? Absolutely. Even if that penalty wasn’t called, we could have gotten the ball back with time on the clock and still not have scored. We just don’t know. My point is that bad calls are inevitable. It comes down to how the players adjust to the circumstance.
When I see fans leaving the stadium with 2:05 still left on the clock in a 3rd and 5 situation, I am disappointed. True Ducks stay with the flock until the clock hits 0:00.
When I hear our fans booing at the play calling from the coaching staff, I am disappointed. Booing does not pump the team up. Under no circumstance should we ever boo our beloved Ducks, coaches, or players. How do you think the players feel?
The two fans sitting directly behind me at the game said that Mariota and Royce Freeman’s remarkable play of the game didn’t matter because we lost. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was an amazing play that took talent and trust. The loss doesn’t define how the game was played.
Okay, now to liven the mood a bit. I noticed two acts of true leadership from the Ducks. First off, freshman Tyrell Crosby (73) struggled to find his feet on the offensive line. I then saw Jake Fisher instructing him on the sideline about technique and strategy to better prepare him for the next series. That is a teammate.
Then at the end of the fourth quarter when the Wildcats were in the red zone, I saw linebacker Tyson Coleman (33) pumping up his teammates on defense before the next play. I love seeing that. I love seeing our Ducks pumped up on the field, pouring their heart and soul into every play. That is when good teams become great.
I remember interviewing Keanon Lowe (7) at the beginning of the season about preseason rankings. He responded with, “Rankings don’t mean anything. They are just a number and only matter at the end of the season.”
If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. A team cannot pass through by blowing out unranked opponents week after week and expect to do well later in the season. After all the hours studying film, teams will eventually adapt. From then on, it comes down to pure football, where talent, grit, and heart will take you to the finish. Fans have the amazing capability of feeding a team with positive energy.
We learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes. Take this as an opportunity to see what a team can really be made of. Losses build character and develop players. At the end of the game, captains Mariota (8), Arik Armstead (9), and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) gave away their jerseys to a little boy. Doesn’t that act just put life into perspective?
Life, like football, is not about the amount of wins on a football field. That moment with the boy was beautiful; I even saw Mariota in tears. I think we have to remember that these young men feel enough pressure already in their day-to-day lives – balancing their education as well as a college sport is a difficult task.
To be a part of a nationally-ranked team as well as being a successful student is something to be proud of — something we should cheer on. The atmosphere at Autzen should be crazy-wild and supportive. I look forward to my ears aching, voice gone, and splitting headache the morning following a Ducks game, regardless of the outcome. We are one team, one program, one city. We are all Ducks — and Ducks fly together.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck