Precarious Ducks: “To Live and Dye in LA”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I’m a muttering-mass-of-protoplasm again after a Duck game, but this time to the positive. When I watch something so emotional to me, and yet filled full of factual items to ponder–it takes me longer at my Greybeard-age to process it. Today I wish to discuss the intriguing components of yesterday’s game, while on Monday I wish to reappraise the season and make sense of what to expect going forward.

Have YOU Ever Been SO Wrong?

One reason I resist people who demand that their opinion be placed ahead of others–is because how wrong we all turn out on occasion. I know a little football, and am knowledgeable about Oregon’s gridiron history, yet I had my head handed to me yesterday. (Thankfully) We all are right a good bit of the time, but even the more reasoned prognostications can end up looking foolish.

One example is my view of what the Oregon coaches would implement in a game-plan. I knew the Chip Kelly Offense, and had watched the growth of his UCLA team and how he ground up recent opponents, while Our Beloved Ducks looked very vulnerable. I feared the Outside Zone Read, and the Bruin backs powering through the gaps and cut-back lanes; I knew they were going to score a boatload of points on us.

Tom Corno

Jeffrey Bassa stuffs UCLA running back Brittain Brown on a key third down stop.

Reality astounded me as UCLA only rushed for 110 yards? I could not believe my eyes as Ducks were defeating their blocks and stopping the perimeter plays to an unbelievable 14 TFLs? (Tackles-for-losses) Kayvon Thibodeaux had 4.5 TFLs himself? This actually happened on the road in the Rose Bowl versus Chip? Still processing!

Sure the defense made some mistakes and still gets hurt by up-tempo, but positives from that game are monumental for the confidence of the players and coaches going forward. At times I think of all the injuries on defense, yet watching the emergence of a Jeffrey Bassa (No. 33) who filled the gap perfectly, and drove the running back into the ground to stop a key 3rd and 1 conversion–gives me comfort for the future. (And the stemming of the defensive linemen to mess up the Bruin O-line was fun to watch)

On Offense? UCLA Blinked First…

The high percentage play for the Bruins was to pack the box and make mercurial Anthony Brown beat you through the air–even with an inexperienced defensive backfield. Yet OC Joe Moorhead accepted that challenge and burned the Bruins through the air all game for a surprising 369 yards. It was not something I expected, as I would have thought we would have seen that game-plan prior to now–especially against Ohio State.

I especially liked how they attacked the true freshman corner who filled in for an injured senior UCLAN, and dented the confidence of the Bruin defense. Could Oregon win a game if they had to primarily pass to do it? Oregon answered yes, if not a little shaky. Putting the ball in Brown’s hands a week after being repeatedly booed at Autzen was a gutsy coaching move that worked to the benefit of the team and the fans.

Tom Corno

Devon Williams ran superbly in the Tunnel Screen.

Last year the UCLA defensive line gave Oregon fits at Autzen and the Ducks were lucky to escape, yet this year Brown had more time to throw. Ryan Walk not only did a great job at center, but he snapped the ball twice when defenders jumped over the LOS to give Oregon the penalties and two free plays. How fortunate are we to have a walk-on develop the expertise to start at two positions and help the Ducks at their time of greatest need.

Oregon had very long drives of 75 yards, 80 yards and even 87 yards which rewarded Mario Cristobal with a ball-control element, but scoring touchdowns at the end of the drives made the fans happy as well. Oregon did not win this game because they were more physical, but because they played smart enough to win the game. Yes there were blunders, but there were many more clever tactics and actions on the field that compounded into a winning result.

I did not see this coming at all.
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Tom Corno

All gaps were filled and the Outside Zone Read was defeated.

I am dumbfounded as I go over the press release and learn that Oregon threw to 11 different receivers? Converted an incredible seven-of-nine 3rd down conversions? Holy Crap!

Before we look forward, today lets savor the fine points of this big-time win in an ESPN GameDay environment; there is so much that can be learned from this game about the players and coaches. The season is short and is half-over, and yet it feels that this team has so much more upside. We have to take a moment to smell those roses in Pasadena because….

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Tom Corno

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