A pleasant progression to watch in this first half of the season is the mental growth of the team, as Coach Mario Cristobal molds them physically and mentally into a winner. The previously unknown spotlight got a little too bright for them in the game against Stanford, yet many of us would assert that the win over the Huskies would not have happened without the lessons learned against the Cardinal.
What about the other lessons that teams that have routinely dealt with while being in the top 12 of the nation? Is Oregon going to learn those lessons the hard way, or can the Cristobal staff convince the team to be wary of the wrong attitudes?
The Ducks teams from 2009 through 2014 experienced big-time regular season games, BCS Bowls and National Championship games; they and the staff were hardened, tough and knew they would get every opponent’s best shot. But sometimes these lessons have to be painfully felt in the natural growth of a program.
I remember the Michigan game of 2003 quite well. It was truly a life experience at Autzen, and it propelled the Ducks into a lofty ranking and a smugness not felt in the career of most of the players of that time. After the incredible Duck victory — I recall the next game against the Cougars and seeing the Ducks having their big heads handed to them in an awful 55-16 loss. Is history about to repeat?
These earnest young men of 2018 have not experienced big games prior to three games ago, and now they are going into a second ESPN GameDay following a nationally recognized victory over the bastard Huskies. Truly their third big game in row after having none? Getting accustomed to the big stage is one thing, while it is another to fight complacency after such a big win and rising national ranking. I don’t want to see Washington State teach our beloved Ducks that lesson again …
My friends … I tripped into a new article profile, what I call the “Ponder Points,” that you will see often in the future. This is the second of that type of article, where the real intent is to give us all a topic to discuss as we would on a message board.
You see, this community of Oregon fans — a bunch of Greybeards that I love communicating with and commenting with below the articles — have almost turned the site into our own message board! But the best part is that it is no cost to anyone and it will forever be “Troll-Free,” as the only Oregon site where writers and readers are protected from the nastiness that characterizes much of the web these days.
It occurred to me after the tremendous victory last Saturday that I did not want to wait until Monday to discuss it. I wanted to do it now, so I popped in a couple of quick paragraphs and asked for your feedback and bam! Over 130 comments? You felt the same way, as you wanted to discuss the game immediately as much as I did.
The point is — on days where I do not have a scheduled article — I will write another short and quick article to ask you about a “Ponder-Point,” as I would like to start a discussion, and we can all learn from each other on the topic. I am constantly amazed at perspectives others bring up that I had not considered about a subject, and how it enriches my viewing experience of my beloved Ducks, and increases my knowledge base.
Now … what about the mental maturity of this team? Can they overcome the next challenge, or will they fall to the concept infamously attached to the Cougars of Washington State? (Cougin’ it!) Some would say that they already experienced that against Stanford, but this is different; this is coming from a different position, and one this team has never been in.
I also invite you to consider other aspects of this game for offering feedback as well: Can Oregon score enough points to win? What is your game plan for victory? Are we going to see more elements of the Cristobal/Arroyo offense unveiled?
Quite a bit to ponder. Let’s get started!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
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