All the talk recently has been about how the Ducks were too soft to beat Ohio State. We thought we were different this year, tougher, more stout up the middle and we could compete with the big boys. I’d say we competed well, definitely proved to be more physical this season but came up against a well coach team with elite, NFL-ready talent up front.
Today, we forget all that and celebrate the top 10 hits in Duck history. Why? 1) It’s fun. 2) To remember who we really are. Mighty Oregon. Fighting Ducks. One of the most dominant programs in all of college football.
What is the criteria?
1) Must be awesome.
2) Must evoke some sort of immediate emotional reaction.
3) Magnitude of the play i.e. Civil War, Bowl Game, was weighed.
4) Video must be available somewhere. Sorry Jake Leicht, Tom Graham, Anthony Newman, Mel Renfro, George Shaw and Dave Wilcox fans – you’ll have to tell us about those in the comments.
#10 Patrick Chung vs. Michigan
In honor of one of our four Super Bowl Ducks, this blocking hit by Chung is truly amazing. Watch how he takes on not one, but two enormous Michigan lineman. He absolutely crushes the first one, then throws his whole body into another one to clear the path for JD Nelson. Thank you 15, this one got my juices flowing.
#9: John Boyett vs. USC
This hit made me think, “Wow, Boyett doesn’t care about anything!” He doesn’t care about his body, his future and he has no regard for his own safety.
#8: JD Nelson vs. Stanford
Keeping with the Safety theme, JD Nelson was a very underrated player – truly one of the best defensive backs in Oregon history. What makes this hit so great is the classic neck snap-back. Pretty sure I did a massive chest bump with my brother in the stands after this one, followed by a Thor-like hammer raise.
#7 Dion Jordan vs. UCLA
The best part of this hit is that the QB literally never sees Dion coming. Then, #96 never slows down and runs right through Kevin Prince. Prince then does a full backwards summersault before attempting to regain his bearings. #60 offers his hand like, “my bad bro.”
#6 Cliff Harris vs. Stanford
This hit was sneaky – even front the bird’s eye camera view, you didn’t see it coming. This hit left me saying, “YES! GO! Wait was he down?! Eddie Pleasant to the house?!” then shortly after, “who made the hit!?” But in typical Cliff fashion, after he knocks Owusu out cold, he jumps around and celebrates. Cliff may forever be known for coining the phrase “The Natty” but the guy was an amazing athlete for the Ducks in his time on campus.
#5 TJ Ward vs. UCLA
OK, spoiler alert, this isn’t the only TJ Ward hit on this list and truthfully, he could have ten by himself. While watching his numerous big hits, its shocking how many players he leaves lying on the turf. Like Terrance Austin in this one. Remember when Terrance Austin choose UCLA over Oregon? Bad call buddy.
#4 Jeremiah Masoli vs. Oregon State
Rare to see an offensive player on a list like this, but Masoli was a 5’8″ human bowling ball playing quarterback. This play has to be on the list because it secured a Rose Bowl bid. Poor little Lance Mitchell just ends up on his rear wondering what happened.
#3 Michael Fletcher vs. Stanford
Coy Wire, first find the ball, then meet Michael Fletcher. Our buddy Coy wasn’t even looking which makes this hit so amazing. I was a senior in college when this hit took place and it made me want to be a better man.
#2 Wesley Mallard vs. Stanford
You have ever run into a wall or screen door running full speed? That must have been what Michael Jolivette felt like after Wesly Mallard dislocated him from his helmet, chin-strap and mouthpiece in one amazing hit. This is the kind of hit that ends careers. If you were a high school kid and got hit like this, your mother might just say, “that’s it, my baby is done with football.” Bonus for this clip: great to hear Keith Jackson again. Miss that man.
#1 TJ Ward vs. Oklahoma State
One thing all of these hits have in common: you rarely hear from the hit-ee ever again in a football context. Anyone know what Zac Robinson is up to? This hit mad me jump and and do a lap around the living room. I might have even done a remove-shirt transitioning to a towel wave, I can’t remember. TJ straight up folds Robinson in half. It’s amazing how quick Robinson pops up from the hit but it becomes very clear, very quickly, he doesn’t know what planet he is on. Here’s to you TJ.
Top photo by Kevin Cline