GameDay Pac-12 Championship: the Mental, Not the Physical Side Will Win

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

This particular game is such a mental one in my view, as opposed to what the coaches will say about it being a physical showdown. In fact I do not know if I have ever encountered such a “mental” Oregon game as this one in all my years as an Oregon fan. Of course, I wish to discuss this part of the competition before the game, during the game and afterwards in this thread you will find in the OBD forum. There should be some pretty good commentary from this astute community of Duck fans.

I have not been able to predict anything this season, and I’ve never had a year where I simply had no idea what the coach was going to do (or not) and how the team would react and respond. This Pac-12 Championship game is no exception, as I don’t think I would be surprised at any end result. We are the underdog, and that massive chip-on-our-shoulder should motivate the Ducks, but again–we have to be careful to not be too fired up and make silly mistakes at the beginning.

Yes, it is harder when you have won the first game, but that was not just a win. That was a beat-down not experienced by these 100+ players before, and the Utes can say, “we own you,” and in Salt Lake City–that was true. What happens if Utah gets a 14-0 lead? Will the players react as they did in Pasadena down to the Bruins by that score, or will they “remember” that Utah is better and this lead is the beginning of the next loss? How will they handle adversity after such a pummeling in the first game? This is the mental side of the game that means everything

Jack Palance knows the “one-thing” for the Ducks is confidence.

Part of the mental game is confidence, regardless of situation–the belief that you can persevere regardless of the weight of the moment. It really feels to me like the Joe Moorhead offense is really settling into the team, as the timing in blocking covered Monday along with the running back’s reading of blocks has improved. Confidence in your system on offense and defense is so crucial in the big moments, as I believe the Oregon teams ten years ago had an unshakable confidence in their offense to where they willed themselves to touchdowns. Will we see that?

If there was ever a time to get over the “away-game” boogeyman….this is it. If there was ever a time to be mentally disciplined and refrain from the penalties that help the opponent keep drives going or kill our own–this is it. I’ve listed quite a few mental aspects of this game that must be mastered in addition to the physical side of carrying out blocks or making an open-field tackle. From my perspective, the mental weaknesses of Cristobal teams is one of the biggest disappointments I did not anticipate. Can Oregon overcome them tonight?
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Anthony Brown was nearly perfect, especially on third down.

I cannot refer to inconsistencies without mentioning Anthony Brown; if he can play 90% as good in Las Vegas as he did last week in Eugene–Oregon has a chance to win. The wide spectrum of performances has been baffling to the fans, but I cannot help but sense a renewal of confidence from the game against Oregon State, in addition to his growing confidence in the Moorhead system. If he puts two more OSU-like games together–is a sniff from the NFL possible as a poor-mans Lamar Jackson type of dual-threat quarterback?

Finally a last mental component to consider is incentives; like or not NIL is real and with great performances now at the end of the season–it means more spending money for the underclassmen next year. This is the first year of NIL, and the first year of payments to players and whether you and I like it–being incentivized like this does work to everyone’s benefit. Yes, I’d rather it just be about winning, but if an extra incentive provides the last bit of effort or concentration–it could be a game-winning difference.

Do watch for these elements in today’s game, and it is only appropriate that I focus on the mental aspects of the Pac-12 Championship since…

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

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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