Mike Merrell’s Three-and-Out: Damnation, Redemption and Hope

Mike Merrell FishWrap, FishWrap Archive

Since the previous week featured so much condemnation and in-fighting among Duck fans, a win over a ranked UCLA team was just what the doctor ordered to settle down some heated feelings. It appears that it isn’t just Duck fans who have trouble getting along when their team is losing. UCLA coach Jim Mora blessed us with quite a show with his defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich after a Duck score in the second quarter.

It is shaping up to be an up and down season for college football, where bums become heroes and heroes become bums: Damnation, Redemption and Hope are the subjects of this week’s Three-and-Out.

Kiffin shows the length of Bamas average gain per play against Arkansas.

Kiffin shows off the length of Bama’s average gain per play against unheralded Arkansas.

Damnation. SEC home cooking tops the list of the damned. No, I’m not talking about the tendency of close SEC games to be looked at as showing how great every team is, as against, say, close Pac-12 games being looked upon as degrading to the conference’s strength.

No, I’m not talking about the SEC having five teams ranked in the top 10, not even when the entire conference’s most impressive out of conference wins have been less-than-touchdown wins over Wisconsin and Kansas State, plus Georgia’s win over Clemson, in which they pulled away in the fourth quarter after leading by a mere field goal after three.

No, I’m not talking about the pollsters’ retaining Alabama in the No. 7 position, and actually even giving them more votes after a rousing 14-13 win over hapless Arkansas. Not even though it was a game where the Bama offense, led by Lane Kiffin, hung 227 yards of total offense on the Razorbacks. But we’re getting warmer!

Outa the way! Wheres the buffet?

Outa the way! Where’s the buffet?

I’m talking about the cooking plaguing Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, who is apparently taking being a Razorback Hog a little too literally.

You would think that all the beer and brats in Wisconsin would have prepared him for what was to come, but in less than two years in the SEC, Bielema has gained over 50 pounds! I have no idea how his wife is taking this, but one can only imagine.

Place and show medals for damnation go to Florida State, whose problems apparently go much deeper than Jameis Winston, and the Arizona Wildcats, not because they beat the Ducks, but because of their “Third Down Air Raid Siren.” It makes it hard to watch an Arizona home game even on television. I can only imagine how bad it must be live. It’s no wonder their home game attendance isn’t the greatest. Getting rid of that siren should rank close to requiring eye exams for officials as far as Pac-12 priorities go.

“Third downs” leads us to the next topic. An amazing statistic of the match against UCLA is that Oregon saw third down only seven times the entire game! Many teams see it that many times on a single drive. Offensive efficiency!

Miracle worker Jake Fisher raised three coaches IQs an average on 37.25 points in a single week.

Miracle worker Jake Fisher (#75) raised three coaches’ IQs an average on 37.25 points in a single week.

Redemption. Redemption has to go to the Oregon Ducks and their coaching staff for a great win over UCLA. It is truly amazing how the return of a starting lineman can increase the IQ of a head coach, an offensive coordinator and an O-line coach. Once Andre Yruretagoyena recovers from his injury and gets back in the lineup, it is obvious that Mark Helfrich, Scott Frost and Steve Greatwood will see another spike in the IQs. Credit for the transformation also goes to the fans who suggested that the Ducks should have Royce Freeman run up the middle for big gains instead of calling for him to run up the middle for no gain time and time again.

For specific acts of redemption, special recognition goes to Tony Washington, who after being called on a game-changing fairly ticky-tacky call last weekend answered with a major sack and forced fumble to set up an Oregon touchdown and a pass deflection to prevent a Bruin touchdown. Even more instant karma occurred for Pharaoh Brown, who shortly after getting flagged for a very minor pushing match with UCLA’s Miles Jack, turned around and burned Jack for a TD reception.

Hope. For at least another week, hope remains for the Ducks’ playoff chances. The selection committee’s membership appears to be fairly balanced, and, whether it is to the benefit of the Ducks or some other deserving team, there can at least be some hope that this will result in a more equitable solution than the old computer program approach, which purported to magically derive objective conclusions from subjective input, with the subjective input of course being that the SEC and Big 12 had the superior teams.

But for now it is Washington week! We all know that there’s a lot of football yet to be played, and at the midpoint of the season, trying to figure the what-if’s for who makes the playoffs is a fool’s errand. For now, the only thing that matters is making it eleven in a row against the Pups. Go Ducks!

Feature photo by David Pyles

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