Take It in Stride: Why It’s OK the Ducks Lost

Rose Bowl (59 of 138)

Look, for starters, there are hundreds of reasons why it’s OK Oregon lost. There are the “excuse-y” reasons, like how the team was on the road against one of the toughest defenses in the nation — starting a QB who’s been with the offense for roughly a month now.

There are the obvious reasons why it’s OK, like how Oregon lost to a worse team than MSU last year and still made the playoffs. There are the obscure reasons, like how Oregon is now 0-2 in big games against the B1G when wearing white and black jerseys.

Adams' height appeared to be the most threatening defender at times.

Gary Breedlove

Adams’ height appeared to be the most threatening defender at times.

But here’s the reason I like the best: Football teams lose. It’s Week 2, and no one’s playoff fate is sealed. Ohio State proved that last year.

What I watched wasn’t perfect. It appeared Vernon Adams struggled to see over his offensive line at times, which forced him to make some bad decisions.

The secondary played better but is still far away from where it needs to be. Oh, and don’t get me started on special teams.

But, it wasn’t bad. Oregon barely won last year against MSU, despite what the 19-point victory might show. It was a tight game for three quarters until Oregon got some momentum and finally put MSU away at home.

So this year, without the best player Oregon football has ever seen, is it terribly surprising the Ducks lost to a football team which has lost only three games in two (plus) years, now — a team that stuck with them until the end just a season ago?

I’m not looking for you all, or anyone for that matter, to embrace losing. As Duck fans we hold our team to a certain standard, a standard that the team has set for itself. But, just maybe, we let this one go. This isn’t the upset at home to Arizona (on my birthday, by the way).

I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to represent the University of Oregon today. The team fought hard against one of the nation’s best, but more importantly, they did it admirably. There was no poor sportsmanship, nor was there a lack of class. Oregon fought til the very end last night, but when it was said and done, they simply lost to the better team, not unlike the National Championship last January.

Addison showed great promise, breaking out for 236 all-purpose yards.

Craig Strobeck

Addison showed great promise, breaking out for 236 all-purpose yards.

There were a lot of positives to take away from this game. Bralon Addison got some momentum, proving he still has the same big-play ability he showed before his injury last season.

The defense, namely the linebackers, played with a much higher intensity than what we saw against EWU.

Adams bounced back from a tough first half and protected the ball, making mostly smart decisions (and some very tough throws, might I add).

But, most importantly, Oregon showed flashes of what it could be — of what it wants to be. And let me make this very clear — of what it will be.

Vernon Adams will continue to grow and the offense will mesh more as the season goes on. The young members of the secondary will learn from experience. Everything will get better and faster, and sooner than you know it, this year’s Ducks will closely resemble last year’s team (minus one notable 6-foot-4 Hawaiian).

In short, everything is okay. Don’t let this loss ruin your weekend, or week for that matter. There were a lot of moments to take away from this game that give me hope for the rest of this season, and come playoff time who knows where our Ducks will be.

And, I think more importantly than anything else, please remember it’s just a game. Oregon, in partnership with Nike, released an exceptional video parodying the comedy classic Animal House.

In that video we fans witnessed Marcus Mariota playing John Belushi’s infamous Bluto, Joey Harrington singing the words to Otis Day and the Knight’s beloved “Shout” as Otter, and countless other former athletes and stars reuniting to have fun together as Ducks.

Years from now these players won’t remember this game, just like last year’s team won’t remember the loss to Arizona. These guys remember the emotional wins, the bonding of brothers, and the first time one walks through the tunnel onto the sweet, sweet Autzen turf.

Please, do not let this loss define the Ducks’ season, or how you view them. Instead, rejoice in the fact that you love and support a team that fought one of the best football teams in the nation until the last minute.

Instead of sorrow, rejoice in the fact your beloved team didn’t have to go to overtime to defeat an FCS team (Auburn, anyone?). Sure this loss hurt, but this team will grow from it. Our Ducks will take it in stride.

Oh, and for Spartan fans only, you can bet your ass come playoff time Adams will connect with Byron Marshall on that second down. You got lucky, but we’re coming for you.

Sco’, Ducks!

Top photo from John Sperry

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Caleb Couturie

Caleb Couturie

Caleb is a sophomore at the University of Oregon intending to double major in Journalism and Sports Management. He is the Managing Editor for FishDuck.com, along with being a lifetime Saints and San Francisco Giants fan, as Caleb fell in love with sports at a young age and developed that love into a passion for sports analysis. He is looking forward to cheering on the Ducks throughout his career at Oregon, and is always willing to talk sports with any fellow fan.

  • DanLduck

    I want to see Jeff Lockie! I am so underwhelmed with Adams!
    He is too short, can’t run worth spit, and is not the accurate
    passer promised! Having someone who knows the entire offense
    would be helpful too. Just sayin’.

    • Matthew M.

      I bet you microwave all your dinners, Dan, on the account it’s preferred to have instant gratification with a mediocre meal, than to take the time to cook one that is delectable. :)

      At times, I felt the same way, in what seemed to be Vernon not going through the progressions and regressing into what appeared to be a run game to nowhere. However, I think from a psychological perspective, to put Jeff in now would cause more damage than good for the team (e.g. Ohio State’s qb debacle). Nonetheless, all the errors from Vernon’s side I felt were “correctable.” I do think we need to see some of Jeff next week, perhaps during the second half. Further, if that is a reality, I would like to see him throw the ball instead of always handing it off, like he mostly does in cleanup.

      In summary, I have a feeling Vernon will grow quickly, but I think trading the convenience of a quick fix tethered to Jeff is premature and not worth the payout of the potential with Vernon. I could be wrong.

      On a side note, Dan, I what are your thoughts about using Royce primarily all evening? I really thought Tony Brooks-James played well in both games and could have been used effectively to mix up the run game. But, I am sure we will see more of him next week.

      Peace.

      • Boggs

        You weren’t asking me, but I thought not using other backs earlier was a big mistake. Royce had a few nice runs, but we needed to change the pace of our running game because Royce never really got going.

        • Andy Irving

          Ditto I was very surprised not to see Benoit or James or Griffin during the first half, when James came out it seemed as though they had no real answer now imagine we would have done that in even just the second quarter how different this game could have been

          • Matthew M.

            Ditto to your ditto. I felt that MSU was too much a monster stopping defense to solely rely on Freeman. Granted, there probably were a few missed blocks that didn’t allow Freeman to get more yards, but by diversifying the running game would have actually helped Freeman, I believe. Adams wasn’t completely productive with the passing game just yet, especially into tight coverage, so the running game was very important. I hope when we face teams with similar defenses, we employ more diversity. Nonetheless, I believe the team is in good hands to make those adjustments. Thanks for the response, Boggs and Andy.

  • GoDucks

    What I would like to know, from quarterbacks out there, is how much a bad index finger affects throwing touch.

    • hjs3

      For starters it’s apparently a “knuckle” but go hold a real football (not ur nerf) with whatever hand ya hold it with and see for yourself how it plays out… Of course you will never learn the extent of the injury anyway so just figure it’s an impairment to whatever degree and hopefully be less of a nag moving forward..

      • Caleb

        The glove makes throwing harder as well. It was a gutsy performance for sure.

        • hjs3

          Ya know, you are RIGHT especially when considering the events of week prior. The kid is barely unpacked still assimilating with teammates and afforded himself pretty damn well too..Just came up one Big Play shy…Betting he makes more than a few in coming weeks too.

  • Anne L.

    It did appear the glove affected Vernon quite a bit. I am looking forward to seeing this team grow and learn from its mistakes. I am not worried at all about the Ducks. They will be fine.

  • Sean Lewis

    Caleb, very nice article well written, and well said. I agree with everything you said with one exception. Player always remember the loses, especially a team that is used to winning. Other than that good article you will make decent journalist one day, if that is the profession you decide on. Even if you’re a Giants fan.

    A life long Dodger fan. ;))

    • Caleb

      Haha thank you I appreciate it. And I’m sorry for the last five years!
      And I was a football player myself and I can definitely say although I remember the losses they are not the first thing that comes to mind (we lost three games in three years)

  • Nate Haas

    Yes, agree with the gist of this article. The defense did improve from week 1. People who give into the old tired narrative of Oregon falling prey to old-school smashmouth are guilty of superficial analysis. One USA Today article offered up the fourth and goal failure by the O-line to get Freeman in the endzone as their evidence of “dominance” by MSU and the repeat of the superficial analysis. Of course that leaves out the the first drive when Freeman did punch it in. But people seem to love those tired old narratives. The Ducks, by being one of the most innovative teams in college football, make some people uncomfortable because they don’t understand what the Ducks are doing and their success is a bit mysterious to them. That discomfort with what they don’t really understand makes those people prone to these overly negative interpretations.
    One loss early in the season should not characterize the overall story of a team. The lesson of Ohio State’s season in 2014 is a good example of what can happen, and their loss to VT was way, way worse. Don’t forget too that Oregon played very poorly for two games after beating MSU last year, narrowly beating WSU, then outright losing to Arizona. In those cases, it was the lack of synergy in the offensive line and on defense overall that led to those loses. But the O-line didn’t put on 30 pounds of muscle after losing to Arizona to suddenly become physically dominant against UCLA, Stanford, Washington, and then Arizona again in the PAC12 Championship game or the Rose Bowl semi-final; they got Jake Fischer back and the teamwork synergy made them effective. This O-line is still getting there and time will tell if they make it. They have the basic stuff to be better than last year. Remember how much the defense improved from the Arizona loss to the rematch.
    I wanted Oregon to win last night as much as anyone. They lost by a few inches and 3 points. It should galvanize the team in the way last year’s loss to Arizona did. They are very talented, well-coached, and have a great culture that will maximize all that talent. The coaches and the team will figure out ways to work with Vernon’s idiosyncrasies just as he figures out how to work with the Oregon system. I see them winning the PAC12 North and beating UCLA in the PAC12 Championship game and possibly getting a rematch with MSU that they will win.
    No one likes a loss, but this was a respectable loss indicative of a steadily improving high quality football program. Additionally, the loss was hardly a “revenge” of last year by MSU given the inches and points that made the difference. If the score was 50-28, MSU would be more justified in saying they had revenge.
    Finally, I don’t really agree with this author’s discounting of the scoring “whoosh” that Oregon puts on other teams-like they did in the last MSU game. That’s an integral part of the way they knock a team off balance; it’s very different than the “running up the score” sin of beating down an already beaten team. Oregon probably “pulls up” more than any other team out there. To me, the whoosh is just another part of the “smarter-not-harder” way that Oregon wins.

    • Matthew M.

      Very sound content and well written, Nate. I came away with pretty much the same impression.

      • Nate Haas

        I should add that I have lived in Alabama the last 3 years and have two daughters attending Auburn University. A retired military guy and native Oregonian, I have been a fan of the Oregon Ducks since Mike Bellotti and Joey Harrington even though the Army sent me to Stanford to get a MA.
        You’all might be surprised to know that there are many fans of Oregon Ducks Football deep in the heart of Dixie (I meet Oregon fans all over the South). I teach high school Junior ROTC, and I know of several Oregon fans among the high school kids and even among our high school football coaches. People across the country respect what Oregon football is about. (Have to say, I have yet to meet a Michigan State fan in Alabama).
        I won’t deny the fact that I told my beautiful and good-hearted Auburn sorority girl daughter that if she ever ran into Marcus Mariota, that she should make sure to flirt a bit… It’s only a six hour drive from Auburn to Nashville, so one can hope.

  • Boggs

    I thought we were going to win the game after our D forced that 3-and-out and we got set up in MSU territory. I thought we had it there. I thought this loss was a team loss. Everybody didn’t play quite good enough. I was actually encouraged from what we saw from Vernon (though I hope the finger is healed by the Utah game). If any position group deserves more blame than others, it’s the offensive line. No offense can function with the d-line getting consistent push up the middle.

    And for those of you pinning for Mariota, go back and watch the Arizona loss from last year. You’ll see very similar quarterback play to what we saw last night. When the o-line struggles, our quarterbacks tend to struggle too, no matter who is back there.

  • barry clements

    Well done, Caleb.

  • Ken Richards

    Very enjoyable column, Caleb. Over here in Florida I enjoyed Mariota’s killer regular season debut against Jameis Winston. Warmed my heart. I had a nice talk with your mom this evening who was just getting on a bus headed for AT&T Park.

    • Caleb

      Haha trust me we enjoyed it out here too.