10 Thoughts from This Weekend

It was one of the busiest weekends of the year for sports fans – five Game 7s in the NBA Playoffs, and most notably, the Kentucky Derby – but for Ducks fans, there was one event that stood above the rest: the Spring Game.

While fervent followers of the Ducks wouldn’t miss the annual spring tilt for anything, trying to keep up with everything else that was going on in the sports world while travelling to and from, and/or watching the game presents its challenges.

In years past, the solution was the trusty rec room DVR, which would be taxed to the max this past weekend.

But times have changed.  It’s 2014, and keeping track of everything from the Spring Game to the Mayweather fight is virtually effortless now, thanks to the Internet, and in particular, social media.  Twitter, Vine, and the like, have made staying on top of every sports event as it happens simple.  Knowing how Floyd Mayweather’s doing in the fifth round, while sitting in the stands watching Marcus Mariota scramble and sling, as you watch Russell Westbrook going bonkers — all at the same time — has become the new normal for 21st century sports fans.

So, in a tip of the virtual hat to social media and all it’s done to revolutionize how we follow sports, here are ten thoughts on the weekend that was, with an assist from Twitter, and  sports-related tweets from this past weekend.

1) The Jerseys Are Always a Story (Even in Spring)

The spring game, by definition, is a practice.  Teams are allowed 15 practices in the spring, and if they choose to hold a spring game, it’s counted as practice No. 15 — which is what makes all the attention around the rollout of Oregon’s practice uniforms so impressive.  

There’s not much distinction between the presentation of a National Championship uniform (this) and a jersey for a glorified practice (this).  They merit pretty much the same level of attention and interest, and I’m just as guilty as anyone of being seduced by all the hoopla.

As an aside, if they don’t make a shirt we can lay our hands on with that flying duck/lightning bolt patch by the start of the season, I’ll bootleg design one and deliver it myself.

2) Yup.

It may be just a practice, but if the gates of Autzen Stadium are open to the fans, and football is being played, tailgates are sure to show up in the parking lot.

3) Devon Allen and Darren Carrington Can Play

On a day when it felt as though more questions were posed than answered, the position of greatest uncertainty – wide receiver – gave fans a big confidence boost in the form of performances by Devon Allen and Darren Carrington.

Allen’s touchdown on the game’s final play was one of Saturday’s best moments.  As QB Damion Hobbs put the ball up for Allen, everyone in the stands thought the same thing: “If he can make one cut, the game ends on a touchdown.”  And that’s exactly what Allen did, closing out Saturday’s game in a more exciting fashion than any in recent memory.

4) The Oregon Spring Game is Still a Huge Event

All the handwringing and quietly expressed concern about the team over the winter clearly hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of true Ducks fans, as the 2014 spring game actually outdrew 2013 (36,588).  It was also the most highly attended game west of Lincoln, Nebraska.

5) Thomas Tyner Will Exceed All Our Expectations

Almost any college athlete will tell you  they have virtually no idea what they are doing their true freshman season; if they don’t redshirt, they’re usually relying almost exclusively on talent alone to succeed.  

Byron Marshall intimated as much last fall, and though Thomas Tyner didn’t speak to the media on Saturday, judging by his performance in the spring game, we can assume he would concur.  Tyner looks poised for a breakout year, complete with upcoming highlights that won’t come at the expense of his teammates. Kani Benoit certainly showed the benefit of his redshirt year, making the most of his carries on Saturday, and in the process did his bit to reassure Ducks fans they need not be concerned about running back depth.

6) Washington’s Shameless Attempts at Ripping Off Oregon Continue

 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA … We have often chronicled the many ways Washington attempts to mimick Oregon’s innovations, but wow, this one almost classifies as blatant plagiarism.

7) Don Essig’s Comedy Chops and Johnathan Loyd

Everything is funnier when you’re the straight man, particularly if you have the voice of a demigod, which is what made Don Essig’s “Welcome to football, Johnathan Loyd” quip over the loudspeaker at Autzen Saturday an amusing moment for those in attendance.

Loyd, by his own admission, was overly excited when he had a chance to field a punt return, resulting in his initiation into the not-so-delicate difference between a “hard foul” in basketball, and a thundering hit on the gridiron.

8) D for “Don”, “DeForest”, and “Defense”

Don Pellum, an  unknown quantity  as defensive coordinator for Ducks fans, got off to a strong start on Saturday, fielding a defense that looked very prepared in the spring game.  DeForest Buckner was particularly dominant early on (see above).

A strong performance in the second half from Stetzon Bair, who seemed to be in the backfield on nearly every snap, gave the Oregon faithful hope for added defensive line depth come fall.

9) Northwest Momentum

I wrote last year about Oregon being the most tortured sports state in the Union, a statement that resulted in the squeaky wheel treatment from the sports gods.  It’s been a spectacular year for Northwest teams: first the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, now the Portland Trail Blazers have ended the longest playoff series drought in the NBA, courtesy of their compelling win against the Rockets on Friday night.

Could this be good juju for Duck fans hoping Oregon football can finally win a national championship, or at the very least, end a two-year divisional drought and wrest the Pac-12 crown from the Cardinal?

10) What Saturday Was Really All About 

To those in service of our country, both in attendance and abroad, thanks for all you do.

Top image courtesy of Kevin Cline.

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