No one in 1965 said Cassius Clay could beat Sonny Liston, the reigning World Heavyweight champion.
The odds were eight to one against the challenger, but Clay trained and thought differently, knocking his opponent out with better boxing skills and tactics. He became one of the greatest fighters of all time, better known as Muhammad Ali.
This Saturday our beloved Ducks play Wazzu, the 11th-ranked team in the country, and the Ducks face them with key injuries on both sides of the football. No hope, right? Players at Oregon who are likely to miss some or all of the contest: Charles Nelson, Justin Herbert, Dillon Mitchel, Royce Freeman, Jacob Breeland (on offense), A.J. Hotchkins, Kaulana Apelu, Nick Pickett and Scott Pagano (on defense).
A daunting, impossible task? To quote Lee Corso:
“Not so fast, my friend!”
A freshman quarterback, Steven Montez of Colorado, came to Eugene last year in his first start and pulled off a surprising victory – so the Ducks can do it too!
If the Ducks throw the following “hay-makers” at Autzen, we could just pull off the upset of the Cougs, and knock them out of the top 20. How do we do it?
- Ball control the game with our superior offensive line and excellent running backs. A punishing ground game eats up the clock and TOP (time of possession).
- Limit WSU to six-eight possessions for the game and prevent explosion plays.
- Get our defense off the field, with stops. No dumb penalties. Press man coverage on the outside, zone coverage when they flood the field with five receivers, and get pass breakups. Harass and maul WSU’s QB with heavy doses of a pass rush with sacks, hurries, and batted down passes.
- Create at least two turnovers. (3-4 even better!) A pic-six anyone?
- Have our QB’s manage the game. Throw short, 3-step drop passes and waggles with slants, drag, and hitch routes (simple patterns) to create room for our running game. Yes, run the Zone Read too, but get to the ground quickly!
- Get the crowd in the game early and often. Hit the Cougs hard and ram the ball down their collective throats, as this will rattle their confidence. After five consecutive home games in Pullman, it is their first away game of the season. Hey, this is “our house”!
- Our team has been building unity and caring for each other. This is the perfect time to perform as one on offense, on defense, and for special teams to scratch these “cats” and bring them down a peg or two!
- This new Oregon coaching staff can assert themselves as quality innovators. This is a pivotal game to bring out the schemes, toughness and motivation. Win this game, and a bowl game is a certain lay-up. Make it happen!
Powell Butte, Oregon
Top photo credit: John Sperry