As we enter the holiday season, it occurred to me that some Oregon victories are like a beautiful Christmas gift. For example, let us look at the BYU game. What was supposed to be a close game between two ranked teams turned into the Ducks completely overwhelming the Cougars. It is like in one of those Christmas car commercials where someone looks out their front window and sees a brand new BMW with a gigantic bow on top. Total ecstasy.
But, then, there are the anti-exciting gifts. Things that inject zero excitement because they are overly practical and something you simply need. Think of reaching into your stocking and pulling out a 6-pack of white crew-cut socks with a matching 6-pack of “tighty whitey” underwear.
Not sexy. The ultimate shoulder-shrugging gift. But, sometimes those are the gifts that are needed. Kind of like the Ducks’ win over Utah on Saturday night.
“Gutty” is the term that has been tossed around a lot over the past couple of days to describe the Ducks’ victory. I agree with that, but I also believe that the term “ugly” also comes into play. This was not a pretty game; it was for those with plenty of intestinal fortitude.
Some ugly observations:
Ugly Trick Plays
“Cute” plays are great in September and into October when we are still wearing t-shirts and the sun is still shining. For whatever reason, they just seem to work more often early in the season. But, “cute” just does not cut it late in the season when the weather turns to crap, players are fighting through injuries, and teams are fighting for their post-season lives. Bringing in a cold Ty Thompson to run a “cute” trick play to open the second half turned out to be straight-up ugly and gift-wrapped the momentum swing to Utah that they desperately needed.
Ugly Early Slide
Noah Whittingham has been terrific at running back for the Ducks this year. He runs hard, makes great cuts, and stays low to the ground for those extra yards. But, on the final drive, when he slid one yard short of the first down marker that would have iced the game, ugliness had reared its ugly head again. If you happen to live in the continental 48 states or lower parts of Canada or happened to be on a cruise ship in the Pacific off the west coast, you may have heard an “F-Bomb” raining down from the heavens (or perhaps shooting up from the gates of hell) after that Whittingham early slide.
Fear not, that was just me from my couch in good ole’ Spokane, WA, USA.
Ugly Opposing Team Quarterback Play
Thank goodness Utah quarterback Cam Rising (who was dealing with a bum knee) had an “ugly” game. He only threw for 170 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs. The Oregon defense stepped up for this game after the Washington debacle and had several key 3rd and 4th down stops. But, some key “ugly” passes by Rising, whether incomplete or intercepted, really helped the Ducks.
More Ugly Mario Bashing
Many of the FishDuck.com faithful, including myself, have been getting a kick about how awful Mario Cristobal has been this year in Miami. Could you imagine how ugly the Ducks would have lost if Mario was still the coach? After two solid Utah whippings of Oregon last year, Cristobal would have tripled down on playing “tough” and “physical” instead of playing smart.
Given the circumstances, Kenny Dillingham put together a terrific game plan given that Bo Nix was a stationary target. I could not imagine Mario coming up with something like this. Nix did cool off in the second half with only 98 yards of passing, which is also the same amount of total “offense” that Miami put up for the entire game on Saturday against Clemson.
Not So Ugly
All the credit in the world to Nix, his performance was “ugly” compared to most of his other games this season. But, seeing how he was essentially playing on one leg, it was extremely gritty, and quite honestly, a thing of beauty.
Who knows what will happen this Saturday in Corvallis? The Beavers play solid defense and will be a tough out. Hopefully, Nix will have some of his mobility back. The biggest thing holding the Beavs back this season has been inconsistent quarterback play. So, hopefully, the Ducks can get a repeat of shaky quarterback play next week to help offset an Oregon offense that most likely will not be firing on all cylinders again. So, get ready for another “ugly” win.
In other words, be prepared for another 6-pack of boring white socks and unsightly, ugly underwear. But, a win is a win, so sign my ass up! (Pun intended.)
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in SLC, Utah.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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