Yes, alliteration is a thing with me (the title), but look past my succumbing to OCD impulses and consider the truth of what awaits our Beloved Ducks in Tempe today. A team that is 5-5 is an opponent that the Ducks should beat and is easy to look past. Yet if Oregon does look past them, and everything goes the Sun Devils’ way and they play out of their minds?
A season that is wrecked is the end result.
The Ducks have so much to play for with the prize of a National Playoff berth a very realistic possibility by winning the next three games. Yet for a team that is inexperienced at being in the top 10 in the nation, the contest at Arizona State could very well be the “trap” game of the season. Can the coaches and the seniors on this team keep everyone focused — and most importantly — playing at their best?
With our usual GameDay discussion — there is so much to ponder; which defense will show up for this game? The one that shut down the high scoring offenses of Colorado and Arizona, or the one that gave it up to Washington and Washington State?
I know that the Sun Devils run a Zone-Read Shotgun offense that is similar to what Oregon used to run exclusively, and they have done well with it. I am especially impressed with the newest Dennis Dixon clone in the conference: ASU’s Jayden Daniels. This young man is 6’3″ and slender — just like Dixon — and runs a Zone Read incredibly well. He made a read and pull in a prior game that was so … Dixon-esque as he sped down the backside of a defense the way Dennis did in 2007. Daniels can also throw an accurate pass and does so on the run superbly, and thus stretches defenses that much worse. He will be a handful for Coach Andy Avalos …
FishDuck.com analyst Mike West agreed with the potency of the Arizona State offense, but he felt that the Sun Devil defense is collapsing as the season finishes. He feels this bodes well for potential Playoff style points, yet I am not so sure. In the friendly confines of Autzen — the crowd will not allow the team to let-down, but the Ducks will not have that help in Tempe. This is where the mental strength of Oregon will be tested, and watching that drama unfold will be part of the fascinating entertainment for us all.
There has been much written about the sub-par running game against the Wildcats when they had one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation. Yet Justin Herbert had his best passing game of the season (333 yards), and that demonstrates to me that when a team packs the box — Oregon is taking what the defense gives them. What we need to be most grateful for is that we can take advantage of a packed box, that the passing game has improved to where Oregon can beat their opponent on the ground (WSU) or in the air as they did against Arizona.
Speaking of drama unfolding … the saga of the Oregon kicker Camden Lewis will be interesting to watch from a coaching standpoint. He clearly has the talent and the challenge is between his ears; can the coaches help him overcome these jitters? Oregon’s season and future scholarship openings could depend upon it, and yet as a fan — I have no idea how this will turn out.
Fifteen years ago, I watched a freshman kicker for Oregon State miss three extra points in Death Valley and thus the Beavers lost to LSU 22-21. I actually said out loud that this young man’s ills were “incurable” and Coach Mike Riley would be best served by dropping the player immediately and finding a walk-on to kick the rest of the season.
Riley knew a ton more than I did, as kicker Alexis Serna went on the be a Lou Groza Award winner the next year and was one of the nation’s best. Those three extra points missed in the LSU game were his only misses that season, as good coaching and giving confidence to the kicker paid off for the Men in Black in a big way. Is a fairy-tale ending in store for the Oregon kicker?
“Oh how we love to ponder and discuss our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo From Video
Visit our Sister Site, the new Our Beloved Ducks Forum!
This new forum that is unlike anything you have ever seen between our civilized discussion, (NO TROLLS ALLOWED) complete directions available for easy usage and the delivery of all Oregon Sports News. (That last part is a gradual transition up to Spring Football)
Go to the forum where we delve into today’s article and so many more topics and the nuances within them over there.
We have a topic post begun over at the forum for today’s article; it is a free site and offers more opportunity for the exchange of opinions on all the Oregon Sports subjects of the day. (And there are some very cool features!)
An introduction article about the new forum is right here.