Oregon Making the Playoff? It’s All Mental Now …

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Regardless of what some Oregon fans think about the 2021 football team after the restless win over Arizona, the Ducks are now No. 3 in the nation in both polls. Some of us do not think we are the third-best college team in the nation, but only good enough to win that week is all. It is a puzzling performance margin between winning in Columbus and barely beating Arizona. Do you still think this team can make the Playoff?

To me … it’s all mental now.

The majority of the 20-some Oregon sports websites out there report the news, the interviews and what the coaches have to say. At FishDuck, we like to express our opinions in articles and ponder the opinions of others in the comments. Well, that and we like to do some analysis on occasion, and I am grateful to Coach Boles for providing those articles. But this season will stand or fall on how well the players apply those Xs and Os internally, in my view. How, when and the belief in their success makes or breaks this season.

Many would scoff at the thought that it is all mental now to make the Playoff, since there is so much learning of technique that can only acquired in practice and in the games. Muscle memory is created from those reps, and I do not ignore that component because with such a young team in so many places–these things must be learned by experience.

Bennett Williams epitomizes the growth of players at Oregon.

I am assuming some growth in the young guns, as we have already seen evidence of that in players such as Bennett Williams on the defense, along with Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao on offense. It is astounding how quickly those three have gone from being no-names to catching touchdowns and being named the National Defensive Player of the Week. This evolving of players will continue to happen.

But the mental side is what will determine the path of this team, whether they come out with the swagger and bluster of the team that beat Ohio State, or whether they will internalize that anything less than their best will result in losses again to Cal and Oregon State. Will they regard themselves as the underdog to make the playoff — the team that fights, scratches, kicks and claws their way to wins regardless of getting an opponent’s best shot?

That is an attitude my friends. It makes all the difference in the world, and it is all mental.

It is the only way to survive the Pac-12 gauntlet coming up, because we are not always playing cohesively as a team. The coaches may not always have the best game plan, or in-game coaching decisions. When up against these obstacles … how badly do these young men want it?

This is the first time this has happened….really?

At times they play inspired, and at other times they are full of themselves. When a Duck defensive back is celebrating and barking at the receiver, when he had nothing to do with an incomplete pass by either a drop or bad pass thrown … what kind of culture is that? What would make an Oregon receiver think he could dis’ a defender and spin the football after a catch unless he had been allowed to do it in practice?

How can we have such a brilliant game plan versus the Buckeyes, and yet blundering offensive performances that suck the energy out of the Autzen faithful?

My point is that dichotomies prevail with the Ducks, and I do not think it will change much after a third of the season has set it into the fabric of the team. It will prove to be one of the most thrilling, frustrating and fascinating teams to follow in Oregon football history. This team could set new heights, or could crash and burn.

Defenders huddle for a gut-check, with so many more of these to go…

Hence why I say that it is all mental, as their approach and attitudes will determine their destiny. What an incredible drama to watch unfold! Who needs reality TV when we have it all playing out on the football field? How will they approach the remainder of the season?

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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