You feel so much more pressure on every third down, and major plays in the games than ever before. As fans, we have not had so much on the line since 2014 for reaching the elite status and vying for the National CFB Playoffs. Sure we had a path in 2019, but everyone wondered if the Auburn loss would come back to haunt the Ducks–even as we were headed to Tempe to play Arizona State. But we have not felt pressure like this before.
The table is set and the path is clear; win out, and we’re in. Thus as intense fans that we are? It is hard to enjoy the games as we want to win so badly, hence every single negative event in the games gives us out-of-proportion anxiety. The pressure isn’t going to ease up, and in fact will compress tighter into a black-hole of stress as we get closer to the end of the schedule. Moving up in the Playoff rankings will add to the stress, as Oregon will then have that much more to lose!
Naturally we lament the tough games coming up, and focus on our own fears with each opponent. Yet other teams have a much tougher draw down the stretch than the Ducks do, and we should count our blessings that we don’t have to face what these teams do…
Alabama: Facing a 6-3 rejuvenated Arkansas team that beat No. 17 Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Texas. Then go to Auburn where the ‘Tide scored 45 points two years ago–and lost, and then get to face No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship? Whew, no thanks!
Oklahoma: I do not like their schedule either as they go to play at Baylor, then at home against Iowa State and finish with bedlam at Oklahoma State? Brutal.
Ohio State: First they face giant-killer Purdue at home, then the top-ten Michigan State Spartans and finish with a road trip to play at Michigan? I’ll pass on that line-up…
Oregon: A Washington State team that took us to the final play two years, and threatens to outscore the Ducks with their superb passing attack. Then on to Utah to play a team with massive confidence, and an equal hate for the Ducks and their fans. Finish it with an Oregon State team that has the tools to beat Oregon–as they did last year? Yikes.
My friends, these are tough teams that can certainly beat Oregon, but our schedule does not compare to the three teams listed above. In fact, we need to count our blessings that we have a final line-up of games that are not insurmountable, even if we do go into a fetal position when our opponent scores a touchdown. While our schedule is scary, I would not trade it for any one of the above teams, would you? (Much more below)
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The Most Massive Pressure is on….Mario Cristobal
You think the pressure is building on us? How about on the coach who has a reputation for his teams not always winning when they should or are favored. If Oregon loses any one of the next three or four games–the blame is entirely on Cristobal. The table is set and you have a winnable schedule, coach; no excuses.
Wow, how much bigger pressure can you apply than that? But this is what he came to Oregon to achieve, and he has the team and the remaining schedule to pull off what most would have said at the beginning this season–would be a most improbable result.
He is also caught in an internal dilemma that we all can relate to, as deep in his DNA–he wants to pound the “A” gaps and play in a phone booth. Going into the UCLA game I stated that he must pass heavily to win the game … but he’ll never do that! And then he stunned us as he did. Against Colorado–the holes created by the offensive line were among the biggest I’ve ever seen at Oregon, thus he could have run the ball, shortened the game and won by a touchdown.
Yet he referred to how he wanted a three-score lead? He knew he needed style points and by opening up the offense again and scoring 52 against the Buffaloes–he was rewarded immediately for that decision with a No. 4 Playoff ranking. So now he knows what he should do, but it is not what he wants to do. We have all been in that pickle of doing what we want versus what we should, but this has massive implications for years to come.
What will he do?
C’mon, there is MORE Pressure?
My friends, how much more drama can you add to this real-life movie playing out in front of us? The massive pressure and now his internal struggles adds to that pressure? If he succumbs to what he wants to do–won’t the Autzen crowd most likely “interact” with him again as they did during the Cal game? Can you stack any more pressure on than this?
Wow, the entertainment does not get any better. I will be torn between the fascination of watching what he does on offense, while dealing with the agony of getting through the game to see the winning result.
Many would remind me that “we’ve been here before,” but I would disagree. In 2010, Oregon was destroying opponents and not taking prisoners, and as fans we had complete confidence going into every game; ditto for 2014. Whereas now I have no confidence going into any game now, only hope.
But wait! There’s more! The most important element to winning football is great quarterback play, and Cristobal has to take this task on with one QB arm tied behind his back. So many great quarterbacks in Oregon’s past would be flourishing with this team, yet we have a running quarterback, not a great passing one. To score the boatload of points needed to win at the highest levels–you must have a passing attack that demonstrates great expertise.
Oregon doesn’t have that, thus another ton of pressure added to the fans and the head coach.
So, if you feel like a basket-case watching Oregon football, you are quite justified in those feelings when you add all the pressure-packed components listed above. Yet I would not trade that pressure for the spot that any of the other Pac-12 teams are in. Let’s savor the moment, and look forward because…
“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by Jerry Thompson
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Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
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