The Split Crew

 

At the risk of sounding like the leader of GET OFF MY LAWN Twitter, it’s time we examine the practices of the fans at Autzen, in particular, the lackadaisical arrive late/leave early crowd.

Like many of you, I have noticed all too often in the past few years that the stadium is late to fill & early to empty. There are many opinions on this, & the following ones in this editorial are mine, but maybe some of yours as well. Agree, disagree, comment among yourselves, @ me, whatever you want to do. Let us begin.

We’ll start with the excuses most often heard for arriving late/leaving early:

TRAFFIC: It’s no secret that the majority of the 50,000-60,000 in attendance on game days don’t reside in the immediate vicinity of Eugene/Springfield. I-5 can be a bear, especially on days when Oregon State also has a home game. Sometimes it’s a late kick. Sometimes it’s a game that’s out of hand, whether is be a blowout win or a blowout loss. I get it, my drive is a minimum 2 hours in optimal conditions from Portland to Eugene. Others may drive from as far away as Seattle on game day, nearly 5 hours each way. A game that has lost its intrigue is an easy one to want to bail out early & get home to a warm bed ASAP.

EMPLOYMENT: No doubt that some folks don’t have the luxury of weekends off. With that there is of course an expected level of leaving for those who see a game that is in hand one way or the other & need to be home for their work the next day. Completely understandable.

WINNING/LOSING: This one is simple, if you’re down big late, why stay? If you’re up big late, why stay?

SCHOOL IN SESSION/NOT IN SESSION: We hear these excuses both in the early September games & then in the mid to late season games. In September, the “reason” the student section is so slow to fill (if at all) is that school doesn’t start for several more weeks. Okay, true. But then explain why those who show up then leave early, often before the end of the 3rd quarter. When October/November comes, the “reason” becomes classes, homework, etc.

Last night, it became apparent that this issue hit a tipping point, with players & fans alike griping, mentioning, outright lambasting those who left early in a game that offensively wasn’t very entertaining, but defensively was impressive. The message we as fans send to those young men on the field when we show up late & we leave early is “Thanks for playing, but you no longer mean much to me. Bye.”. Those young men on the field play from the first whistle to the last whistle. They don’t get the luxury of leaving early. They don’t get the choice of simply packing it in & walking away. 90% of them will never hear their plays cheered or their names chanted on Sundays in the NFL, for them, college is often the last shot at glory after sometimes more than a decade playing the game. We owe it to them to support them. They aren’t paid for what they do, though they should be, but that’s another issue entirely. We shouldn’t be seeing this from players https://twitter.com/cyri3e/status/916870233008177152, https://twitter.com/JenBeyrle/status/916880886452281344. It shouldn’t be mentioned by the Fox broadcasters that the student section has left at the start of the 4th quarter. That’s embarrassing. From a recruiting standpoint, would you want to play for a school whose fans abandon you at the first sign of trouble? Would you want to suit up in front of people who only care for you as long as you’re successful?

One gripe in particular resides with the student section, @AutzenStudents or @OregonPitCrew. The collection of the student body who tout themselves as die hard fans, there rain or shine, night or day, to Roar The Praises of Her Warriors. This section is directed at you. I implore you to listen & think. Last night, this no longer became about old heads like myself bitching about them darn young whippersnappers. Those football players, those who are your peers in school, they noticed you left them. They said so. It was absolutely embarrassing to see the student section near empty with a full quarter remaining. The time for excuses is over. If people can drive from Portland, Salem, Seattle, The Dalles, Bend, on gamedays, EVERY gameday, you can be bothered to walk from Taylor’s & be on time & you can stay until the end too. If you don’t want to be there, don’t show up to begin with. Don’t try to get tickets. Don’t take the opportunity away from other students willing to go & stay just so you can get that sweet Snapchat post to say you were there & then bail after SHOUT!. Those players on the field, the ones wearing your school colors, they’re playing not only for themselves, but for you & your institution too. From whistle to whistle, they’re out there representing you. You in turn represent them, you are supposed to be some of their most ardent & boisterous supporters. It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. It has become apparent in the past decade that among all fans, but often students in particular, a feeling of entitlement. This entitlement has lead to indifference. The notion that your team doesn’t deserve your support unless it is winning is the worst attitude possible. I implore you to read your history on the football program & realize just how good you really have it. You look at 9-4 as a miserable failure of a season. We’re a victim of our own success. Please, find perspective to know where we were & where we are. The hard work it took to get there & how difficult it is to sustain long term success in college athletics.

All too often last night I saw comments defending those who left early. From the commute, to not being in the game late, to if we aren’t winning why watch? I guess it comes down to how you want to define being a fan, you know short for “fanatic”. If beating traffic out is your priority, so be it, but those young men on the field noticed & you sent a clear message to them where they & their play land with you. There’s no arguing that last night in particular, the offense was putrid. However, those defensive players still deserve your adulation for the level of play they have shown that was absent last season. If you only choose to watch when the team is winning, maybe “fan” is the wrong term to use for yourself. Might I suggest “casual follower” of the team?

Lastly, fandom is certainly not a one size fits all thing. You’re open to define it how you wish, but when the lack of support reaches the players & they voice their thoughts on it, that reflects on all of us. Nobody is saying every second of every game you should be standing, cheering, yelling. Nobody is demanding you give your outright & utmost attention to every play there is, but think about how your absence & indifference feels to those on that field representing you. They notice. They have now said so. They won’t always be perfect, they won’t always make us proud, but so long as they are giving their best efforts, they deserve ours as well. That’s how we can #DoSomething & Make Autzen Great Again.

@swooshmcduck

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Week 2 Predictions: Nebraska vs Oregon

Saturday, September 9th // Eugene, OR // 1:30pm PST

 

WHY THE DUCKS WILL WIN

@UODuckGirl
This team is special. We have the talent and the #tagswag and I think coming off a record breaking win is strong momentum. Plus we are at home and I think it will be a sold out crowd. I think TBJ makes less errors and Herbert/Royce keep up the run game. Plus I will be there live so that’s a great indication that we will win.

 

@GoDucksTroll
Our defense has improved enough to not be embarrassed by consistently getting burned on 3rd downs, and Nebraska won’t manage more than 150 yards rushing. The offense pounds away with the three headed monster of Royce, Kani and TBJ. This sets up Justin Herbert to have time and pick apart a Nebraska secondary that struggled in their season opener. Our strength (offense) matches up well with their weakness.

 

@JonathanAdams
Royce Freeman is the best player on the field. Arkansas State threw the ball 68 times last week vs. Nebraska and only ran it 21 times, so I have no idea if the Cornhuskers are actually good against the run. But some dude named Warren Wand who’s 5’5″ and weighs less than 180 lbs averaged nearly 6 yards per attempt on 12 carries for A-State, so I think that bodes well for Oregon’s rushing attack. Plus, a really lousy Oregon team went to Lincoln and should have won last season. The Ducks are (probably (dear god, hopefully)) better this year while the Cornhuskers might be worse — it would be weird if Arkansas State’s offense is better on the road than Oregon’s offense is at home and the Red Wolves put up 36 points and nearly 400+ passing yards in Lincoln.

 

@SwooshMcDuck 
Momentum…and a *fire emoji* offense. Nebraska looked bad, like really bad, struggling to beat Arkansas State last week. If not for a few key plays like an interception or kick return for TD, we’re facing an 0-1 Nebraska team this week. Nebraska allowed 415 yards passing last week (I mean ArSt passed 68 freaking times), but even with Oregon’s somewhat pedestrian receiver crew they should have no problem scoring on this secondary. Add in a run game that looks like it could be a formidable comparison to the LMJ/KB backfield of yesteryear, we should easily be able to score on the ground as well. If Oregon’s secondary can slow down the Husker’s offense slightly, Oregon can win this in a dramatic shootout.

 

@NoNattyForYou
I’ll keep this simple: Nebraska’s defense is trash. On the other side, Pagano could be back, which will help slow down Bryant. Finally, although the smoke has cleared some, coming into Autzen for the first time under the current conditions is no easy task.

 

@BigShaun 
Nebraska’s defense looks like Oregon’s last year and Oregon’s offense looks like 2014 again. Oregon should be able to score lots of points. Herbz should have about 400 yards passing against a Nebraska secondary that last week couldn’t stop a thing.

 

@DMDoubleG
Last week was nothing if not encouraging. QB Justin Herbert, RB Royce Freeman (et. al.), and the rest of the offense all lived up to expectations. Nick Allioti must have loved watching the other side of the ball — classic bend-don’t-break Oregon defense. We had some sloppy moments, but when they settled down, the defense showed improvement and flashes of something that could be pretty special.

 

@JARomney
The powers of the Swag Surf are immeasurable. The sheer mention of surfing is sure to make any Nebraskan scared, as they’re a dumb land-locked state (I mean, what’s the deal with that?). Provided the gritty, gutty, Huskers can get over this insurmountable head game, they’ll run into the Oregon offense – and after giving up 497 yards of offense to Arkansas State, that’s tricky. Yung Herbz built of stone from the mighty Willamette, known to throw footballs over Skinners Butte by the age of 4, is looking at the Nebraska secondary the way Beyoncé lustily stares in LeBron’s eyes court side. Royce “15-to-20” Freeman hasn’t forgotten the injury in Lincoln last year, and will look to run through the Corn Husker defense with the same ferocity that Mike Riley ran away from the challenge of coaching at Oregon State. The Ducks ran for 300+ last year vs Nebraska, and should have won the game, I don’t see much changing. Oregon has better athletes on offense than Nebraska does on defense.

 

 

 

WHY THE DUCKS COULD LOSE

@UODuckGirl
They big. Might be hard to stop given the newness of our defense. D is going to really have to step it up. No Missing Tackles! #NMT

And we better not lose since I am going to be there.

 

@GoDucksTroll
Turnovers and a shaky defense deflates the team’s confidence. Herbert throws a few picks and we lose a fumble. Meanwhile, Nebraska gashes us with 15 yard runs and sets up some nice passing opportunities for Tanner Lee. The swag disappears and we are brought back down to Earth.

 

@JonathanAdams
Oregon’s defense is almost definitely still bad. And the only thing I learned about the offense last week is that they would definitely do well in the Big Sky. No idea what happens when they actually face some adversity this week. Going down to the wire vs. a Sun Belt team at home isn’t ideal, but at least Nebraska had to go and win a game. Oregon-Southern Utah was a glorified scrimmage after the first quarter. We won’t know if the Ducks can take a punch until they actually get smacked in the face.

 

@SwooshMcDuck 
Defense or lack thereof. It will come down to a matter of stops. Nebraska runs a balanced offense of run & pass. They aren’t flashy, but they do what they do reasonably well. Oregon’s secondary remains a huge question mark, probably the biggest on the entire team. Sloppy play, missed assignments, & missed tackles will spell Oregon’s downfall. This game feels closer than it should given how we aren’t sure week to week which Oregon defense we might get. If the team comes off last week’s high & overlooks a struggling but hungry Cornhusker squad, we get the first L of the Taggart Era.

 

@NoNattyForYou
Bryant is a stud at running back, and despite the improved organization of Oregon’s defense they still have a ways to go. Defensively, the second game after moving to a 3-4 will be better for Nebraska, and the athletes on defense could match up well with Oregon’s play-makers.

 

@BigShaun 
Oregon’s defense regresses against a P5 opponent and the ghost of 3rd and Pellum haunts one more time. You’ve seen me say, ad nauseum, that Oregon will go as far as the defense allows and this week is another test that will show us what we’re working with.

 

@DMDoubleG
Nebraska fans. This is going to sound weak, but hear me out. Nebraska fans have been arriving in town since MONDAY. Old-money fan bases don’t mess around, and Nebraska is no exception. They bought hundreds of OREGON SEASON TICKETS just so they could come to this one game. That’s nuts. I think people are really underestimating just how jarring it could be to have your home field sound like a neutral site. It could really throw people off.

 

@JARomney
Have you been introduced to the Oregon defense yet? Oregon played two true freshmen at nose guard last week, and they accounted for nothing on the official stat sheet. Zero. Just jump on a pile and get half a tackle or something, sheesh… Everyone says Tanner Lee is a potential first round NFL pick at the quarterback position, and that alone gives Nebraska a chance. If the transfer from mighty Tulane can pick apart the UO secondary, Ducks are in trouble. Nebraska will run on the Oregon defense, so unless they force 2+ turnovers and hit Lee in the backfield a few times, the Huskers will light up the scoreboard.

 

 

THE PICKS

@UODuckGirl
35-28. Ducks

@GoDucksTroll
Oregon wins, 49-28.

@JonathanAdams
Hey, can we change the name of this section? It’s just not memorable enough.

Anyway, if you’re betting take Nebraska and the 14 points. That’s free money. I like the Huskers to be slightly better on defense and boringly effective on offense. Big Red wins 31-27.

@SwooshMcDuck 
I put my faith in the Power of Pepsi & Coach Leavitt’s defense surprises us all by making stops in critical situations. Oregon 44 Nebraska 32 #WeNatty #BuckleUp

@NoNattyForYou
45-35, Oregon.

@BigShaun
I’ve been optimistic on the win total for a while and I’m sticking with it. Oregon wins big, 55-21.

@DMDoubleG
42-35, Oregon.

@JARomney
Oregon 44-Nebraska 31
A see saw game turns into a comfortable Oregon win late.

 

#GoDucks

 

 

Week 1 Recap: Southern Utah vs Oregon

FINAL: Southern Utah 21, Oregon 77

LINK TO BOX SCORE

LINK TO PREDICTIONS

 

OFFENSE

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: A
That was nice to see again, wasn’t it? A blistering 703 total yards of offense, 355 yards in the air, 348 on the ground. Royce Freeman doing Royce Freeman things to the tune of 150 yards on 23 carries for 4 TD’s. Justin Herbert with a crisp 17/21 for 281 yards & 1 TD. Kani Benoit was the backup, & he still had 7 carries for 107 yards & 3 TD’s. This was Oregon offensive football at damn near its finest. Now, will it stick around?

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A
Ten touchdowns and 700 yards of offense is nice. I wasn’t sure what kind of offense to expect, beyond it heavily utilizing our stud running backs. Now we know a little more: new school power running with a mix of letting Justin Herbert sling it around. For those worried about Oregon losing their signature tempo and being just an ordinary team, your fears have been assuaged. We’re still going to be on the cutting edge of offensive innovation. I’m fairly certain that the play calling was kept vanilla to keep Nebraska and other future opponents guessing.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: A+
Let’s be honest: not much needs to be said here. Any team that loses NFL caliber talent at its weakest position and still puts up a record number of points deserves a day off from scrutiny.

I will say this: I went to one of the open practices, and it was clear QB Justin Herbert has a CANNON for an arm. He was throwing 50 yards through the air with ease. We only got a taste of that this week, but believe me it’s there. We also got to see him use his wheels a bit. He’s no Marcus Mariota — but anyone that is 6’6″ and athletic is going to cover ground. He made smart plays and executed. He looked like everything you want from a young QB.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The offense looked great overall. Royce was back to his 2015 self. Herbert looked he could potentially be a first round pick after next year. The offensive line was fantastic and looks like it will be the best unit on the team this year. I’m still questioning the WR depth, but we should know more in the next few weeks.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A++
Wow. I haven’t screamed that much at a tv in a long time. Well Minus 2 weeks ago when I thought the knight king killed Viserion. But those were screams of fear and Saturday night was pure joy. Impossible to have a better start than Tony Brooks-James returning for a TD. Just like I could see it from the other side of the country last year in the first game that something was terribly wrong, this time I knew in that less than a minute that the ducks were back.

Other amazing offensive performances by Royce Freeman, Justin Herbert and Kani Benoit. The offense was lit! Royce is clearly back to his old self. They seemed focused but relaxed and having fun. Hadn’t seen that in a very long time.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A+
Getting to double figures in touchdowns gets you an A+. Would have been an A++ without the goal line fumble by Tony Brooks-James.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: A
What can I say. Royce is healthy again. The offense line looked good. Herb was making reads down his order of progression. They generally looked great. Have to keep in mind that this was against a sub-par team, but even with that you cannot discount that the offense had its way, all day. Most of all, it was great to see the players having fun again. The sideline was raucous and that spread to the stands. They did everything they needed to do today.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
The run game was SO good the need to pass wasn’t non-existent. Loved seeing so many plays between the tackles, something you can do at will against SUU, but lets see what happens against the rest of the Pac-12.

 

DEFENSE

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: B-
We had a defense, that alone gets a C grade. After a shaky start allowing SUU to march with impunity down the field, the defense found their footing & began to show signs of life, even shutting out SUU in the second half of the game. They aren’t fixed yet, they still can’t wrap up & tackle for $#!t but at least for one night, they were drastically improved over last season. Yes, it was inferior competition, but maybe that’s just what this unit needed to gain a little confidence coming out of last years apathy.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
After that first Southern Utah drive I was worried. But Jim Leavitt’s squad buckled down and used their superior athleticism to make plays. Troy Dye is such a special player, and the middle of the defense looked solid. I’m re-watching the game as I type this and I can’t get over how great he plays. The defense was able to get pressure on the QB, and some missed tackles on sacks were a bit painful to watch. But this defense had a different mentality from last year, pads were popping and passes were being dropped because there was a defender right there. Some questionable PI calls, and I’m just glad that defenders were in the same area code as the receiver. Keep an eye on Thomas Graham, the true freshman is already, quite possibly, our best cover corner and best tackler at that position.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: C-
On the other hand, LOTS could be said here. But I’d rather not. The Good: the front 7, a second half shutout. The Bad: defensive back play. The Ugly: the beginning of the first half, the end the of the first half.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: B
The defense locked down in the second half, but there were still missed tackles. I am cautiously optimistic about the defensive line, especially when they are at full strength. The linebackers still scare the hell out of me, and if we’re starting 190 lbs MLBs come conference play, we’re in trouble. Arrion Springs is the only player I will mention by name because he was complete trash. How he continues to get playing time is beyond me.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: B
While the defense missed a few tackles and had a rougher start they certainly found their grove in the second half with highlights being Performances by Umadi, Dye and Springs. It’s clear that the defense is much improved. Perhaps the “choice of a new generation”? Memo to duck twitter re: the defense. Take a chill pill.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A-
In 2016 the defense had just five scoreless quarters and never more than one in a game. They had two on Saturday night. Things were pretty dicey at the end of the first half but unlike last season they made adjustments and actually played better in the second half. I know, weird, right?!?

 

@BigShaun – Grade: C
I want very much to grade this game versus where the team was last year, because then I’d be able to put all sorts of positive perspective on things. They were flying to the ball. The miscues were way down from last year. The was tremendous improvement. But, I can’t grade them against last year. I have to grade them versus other teams. And I have to take into account the several missed tackled because old habits die hard. And there was flat out a couple of missed assignments. They showed improvement under Leavitt and crew but there is still much more room to improve.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
I was hoping this would be the game to break the “we finally held a team under 20 points”, but nope.  But oh my goodness I loved the fire we saw on Saturday, and it was great seeing our guys doing some of the “pushing around” in the trenches.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: B
TBJ started off the Willie Taggart Era with a boom. 100 yards to the house. Just what was needed to instantly get the crowd into the game. Unfortunately later on a muffed return would spell 7 points for SUU. Those type of mistakes can’t happen going forward & I think TBJ knows that. Don’t expect to see him drop another one like that anytime soon…we hope. Kicking game was on point, 11/11 XP’s, not too tough of a night. We’ll see what happens once we have to actually kick meaninful FG’s. Also, gone is the dumb swinging gate formation & the 2-pt bluff BS. Good riddance.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
A 100 yard kick return by TBJ set the tone for the night, and his fumble later on is the only reason I’m giving this unit a B. Aidan Schneider, owner of college football’s finest mustache, showed he’s more than just an accurate FG kicker with some nice kick-offs. Punting has been a major weakness in the past few seasons, and it looks like Adam Stack and Blake Maimone are platooning there. Both had punts over 40 yards, and I’m looking forward to having a punt unit that doesn’t make you cringe.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B-
Aiden Schneider was $$$. Charles Nelson made smart choices on punt return. Our kick offs could have gone a little further, but that’s a minor complaint. Punt team looked fine. Need more data.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
Brooks-James’ fumble is really the only notable thing here, but it’s big. Adam Stack looked like he could be a good punter eventually. I’ll side with Canzano here and say that I’m glad XPs aren’t gimmicky anymore.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A
That kick off return – just nothing better to start the season and Taggart era.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
A touchdown on the first play of the season is pretty cool. And I liked how the punters kicked the ball more than 40 yards. After the last couple of seasons I thought maybe that was against the rules or something. Should have been an A+, but, again, a fumble by Brooks-James lowered my grade. Ball security, TBJ. Ball. Security.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: B
Obviously the 100 yard return was awesome. The fumbled kick off that led to points was the low point. And they sort of balanced each other out in my mind. The grade is how they performed outside of those two extremes, which was as needed.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
Maybe the hardest part of football to recreate in a non-contact practice setting, look to see improvement week to week.  And, I *did* call the opening kickoff being returned for a touchdown, I don’t care if you don’t believe me.

 

COACHING

@SwooshMcDuck – B+
It was what you’d expect from a competitive Oregon team playing against a Big Sky Conference team. We aren’t Oregon State, we don’t struggle to beat those kinds of teams on our home field. The best thing to see of the night was a defense that held an opponent scoreless in the 2nd half. Where has that been? Congrats to Coach Leavitt on any adjustments he & his staff made at the half, you deserve that Pepsi, sir. Next week we find out a little more about how the coaches handle increasingly better competition.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A-
The minus is for all the penalties, and except for that this was a perfect debut. This staff gave a boost of energy to everything. The guys in green and yellow want to play for them, and looking at that sideline makes me think that all the team bonding activities are worth as much as any scheme change.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B…+?
It was week one. With an entirely new coaching staff. Against a middling lower division team. That is to say, obviously we didn’t quite go deep in the play book. To quote GoDucks.com Editor Rob Moseley, they kept it pretty “vanilla.” So it’s hard to really judge them. Even so — it looked like good play calling. Play calling always looks good when you win, of course, but they didn’t do anything openly baffling, and frankly I’m going to take that as a win.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The only reason they get the minus here is because at times it looked like Herbert was still doing the play action to no one. Offensively, I liked the new wrinkles, and watching Royce run downhill in the pistol definitely got me a little hard. The defense looked much more organized, which helps cover up for the lack of athletes.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A-
No going for two! I liked it. Plus the TagSwag is pretty amazing.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
Team was ready to play, they didn’t play down to the competition, they made adjustments on defense that actually worked, and no one punched anyone in the handshake line. A nice debut performance.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: A+
I can’t say enough about the first game and the job I think the coaches did. They took a team that didn’t have a whole lot of confidence after last year, that was getting beat up in the media, saw the coaching staff get let go, and reportedly didn’t even hang out together much and somehow seemingly changed the culture in such dramatic fashion that this team came out as a single unit that had tremendous energy and enthusiasm like I’ve never seen on an Oregon sideline before. They team had the “Juice” as Taggs likes to say. I wasn’t expecting that level of mental and emotional turnaround by game one. I couldn’t be more impressed.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
The attitude was there, the juice was there, now lets see if the corrections are there next week against Nebraska.

*Penalty flag flies in as I’m writing this*

 

OVERALL

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: A-
A few mistakes here & there, some poor play & technique, but overall a fun game to watch & a great start to getting the bad taste of the final season of the Mark Helfrich Era out of our mouths. Swag Surfin’ seems to be the new “in” thing at Autzen. I don’t get it, I’m old, & white. But seeing the energy back on the sideline, the interaction between players, after last year’s finger pointing & acrimony, it was a welcome respite. Now, the real season begins. BUCKLE UP!

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A
I thought I was being overly optimistic with my prediction of 69 points. Turns out I was selling them short. There is a LOT to clean up yet I can’t think of a more perfect night to start the Taggart era. The team has to brimming with confidence heading into Saturday’s revanche match with Nebraska.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B-

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The performance was good, but it’s really hard to tell how much you can take away from beating the shit out of a middle tier FCS opponent.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A+

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
Pretty much exactly what you want out of this kind of game. No drama, a lot of fun, and a beat down of a team you should, well, beat down.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: B+

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
This game gave me exactly what i thought would happen, though they scored four more touchdowns than I predicted.  If this team can manage getting two turnovers and at least one big play on special teams per game it would be hard to not see them winning nine or more games.

On a side note – I will be stepping back from my role with Matter Of Quack for the time being to focus on an amazing new opportunity working with @GoDucks/@OregonFootball on some special creative projects.  But fear not, @SwooshMcDuck and @BigShaun have this all under control… I hope.

 

 

#GoDucks

Week 1 Predictions: Southern Utah vs Oregon

Saturday, September 2nd // Eugene, OR // 5:15pm PST

WHY THE DUCKS WILL WIN

@SwooshMcDuck
TALENT. Oregon is by far the more talented team here & it’s not even close. Justin Herbert comes out & picks apart a defense that gave up an average of 300 yards per game in the air last season. The ground game is a bit slower, only accounting for 2 TD’s but it’s more than enough to pull far ahead & stay there.

@NoNattyForYou
They’re a bad FCS program, with a terrible defense and average offense. Just the type of team you want to play in week 1.

@UODuckGirl
GO, FIGHT, WIN DUCKS WIN! We will win because this team is FIRED UP and ready to prove that the ducks are back in a big way.

@BigShaun
Despite the down year for talent (thanks, Helf), Oregon is still far superior to SU. The offense should put up some decent numbers this year. Royce should have about 800 yards on the ground and Herbz will pick them apart.

@GoDucksTroll
Because Oregon, unlike some other NW schools, has never lost to an FCS team. The huge talent gap and the excitement of the Taggart Era leads to an on-field demolition. Southern Utah gets overwhelmed by our physical o-line and the battering rams and rockets that we call our running backs. The maligned Duck defense uses that chip on their shoulder to create 4 turnovers and sets up the rout.

@WildKingdumb
The talent level on the field for Oregon should not just win but dominate Southern Utah.

@JARomney
Because Southern Utah playing at sea level will be a major factor as the game goes on. The air will be too dense, and once the lungs go, the legs go.

@DMDoubleG
We like to be timely and use only the most relevant analogies here at MOQ, so I’m going to liken this game to the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight. Does Southern Utah University have a chance? Of course. They are playing in the game. There is, mathematically speaking, a non-zero chance that they could win.

They could beat us, I don’t know, 58-27?

But let’s be real — they won’t. So what if we’re 2 years removed from greatness?That doesn’t erase all the things we did before. Two years ago we were fighting for the belt. We may have gotten knocked out, but we’re not down for the count. We’ve still got plenty of juice left in the tank — we’ve just been waiting to get that second wind.

We went back to our corner between rounds and found a new corner-man; one with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. We took a swig of Gatorade, dug deep within ourselves, and found an all-time runningback, an up-and-coming quarterback, a whole heap of O-line studs, and a human missile for a linebacker. In other words: we had the winning ingredients within us all along. We just needed to put it all together.

And come Saturday, we will. Unlike last Saturday, this one won’t go 10 rounds.

@JonathanAdams
The 2016 Oregon football team was a barrel full of poopy diapers and old fish parts slowly cooking over a fire made of plastic tubs full of hair and they still won their home opener by 25 over a Big Sky opponent. And since we all agreed that 2016 was rock bottom, the Ducks aren’t losing to any 1-AA teams in 2017.

 

 

WHY THE DUCKS COULD LOSE

@SwooshMcDuck
Well, quite simply, we’re still broken. We find that all Willie’s horses & all Willie’s men couldn’t put Oregon together again…yet. The defense remains soft & incapable of stopping anything in the air or on the ground. Oregon is unable to get 3 & Outs & leaves SUU in the game for far too long.

@NoNattyForYou
We can’t (or shouldn’t). If Oregon loses this game, Taggart and company should be fired at midfield after the handshake.

@UODuckGirl
We won’t lose. I just don’t see it happening.

@BigShaun
Oregon could lose because it’s the first game for a new staff still trying to figure out what they have here with this team and the players are still reeling from a horrible season and a wicked case of Rhabdo.

@GoDucksTroll
Justin Herbert gets injured and the team can’t get anything going. Southern Utah gains confidence, quiets the crowd and breaks of some long plays. Our young defense blows assignments. Unlucky fumbles give Southern Utah great field position and they capitalize.

@WildKingdumb
Injuries and turnovers. Like a lot of them, like even The Duck gets hurt.

@JARomney
Matt LoVecchio and Gerry DiNardo walk through the door? Aside from that, the only plausible scenario I see is George Soros and Brady Hoke busing in paid actors to play Oregon football players.

@DMDoubleG
Under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, Oregon had a bad habit of letting bad teams do bad things to us. Here are the points scored by non-Power 5 teams against us in the Helfrich/Kelly era in reverse-chronological order: 28, 42, 28, 13, 14, 3, 34, 25, 14, 20, 7, 0, 13, 0.

With exception to the 2010 Natty team and their two shutouts, including opening the season with a 72-0 win over UNM, that is a somewhat underwhelming record. Those should almost all be 14 or less. Pair a bad habit for allowing too many points with a bad defense and an entirely new coaching staff, and the growing pains of a new staff might be that much more painful.

SUU has a defensive lineman in Robert Torgerson getting legitimate NFL looks next to three other seniors on the line, so they aren’t pushovers. In fact, that D-Line had 8 tackles for loss and 2 sacks last year against a Utah O-line that sent 4 guys to the NFL.

Oh, and one of those guys is 32 years old and 360 pounds. No, seriously.

@JonathanAdams
I have a theory about Oregon State fans (I promise this is relevant). I think that many of them have resigned themselves to mediocrity and now their fondest wish is to drag Oregon down to their level, make the Civil War a ridiculous “championship” game and spend December and January focused solely on sheep-related activities. So, in a world where the football gods gave Duck fans the magic and beauty of the 2014 Rose Bowl, then I suppose those same gods could throw OSU a bone and take college football in this state back to the 1970s and early ‘80s. And that would most definitely mean Oregon losing at home to a middle-of-the-road FCS school with a stadium seven times smaller than Autzen.

 

 

THE PICKS

@SwooshMcDuck
44-20. Oregon

@NoNattyForYou
55-17. Oregon

@UODuckGirl
Ducks 42 – S.Utah – way less than that.

@BigShaun
55-14. Oregon

@GoDucksTroll
69-10. Oregon

@WildKingdumb
45-21. Oregon

@JARomney
51-17. Oregon. That’s about all the brain cells that need to be wasted on this kind of match-up. Enjoy the 100 degree heat, and stifling smoke on Saturday at Autzen!

@DMDoubleG
45-21. Oregon

@JonathanAdams
44-27. Oregon

 

 

#GoDucks

2017 Oregon Duck Season Forecast

2017 Oregon Ducks Season Schedule

9/2 – Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 5:15pm PT
9/9 – Nebraska Cornhuskers – 1:30pm PT
9/16 – at Wyoming Cowboys – 4:00pm PT
9/23 – at Arizona State Sun Devils – TIME TBA
9/30 – California Golden Bears – TIME TBA
10/7 – Washington State Cougars – TIME TBA
10/14 – at Stanford Cardinal – TIME TBA
10/21 – at UCLA Bruins – TIME TBA
10/28 – Utah Utes – TIME TBA
11/4 – at Washington Huskies, – TIME TBA
11/11 – OFF
11/18 – Arizona Wildcats, – TIME TBA
11/25 – Oregon State Beavers – TIME TBA
*12/1 – Pac-12 Championship Game, Santa Clara, CA – TIME TBA

 

SEASON OUTLOOK

@SwooshMcDuck
Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Puddles lovers of all ages, welcome back for another exciting season of Oregon Football. First let me thank you for returning to read my columns, I know it’s me that brings you back week after week & none of these other scrubs. Let’s begin, shall we?

After what can only be described as an abomination of a football season in 2016, the 2017 season begins with things anew in Eugene. Helf & Co. are gone. In are Willie T & Co. When it comes to an outlook on the season, it’s hard not to express at least some slight optimism that the team has grown & learned from last season, that the staff will prepare them better, & that we aren’t doomed to another season in the cellar. Willie T & Co. will be tested with a slate that isn’t all that easy this season. Road games at UW, Stanford & even Wyoming are going to be tricky. Wazzu at Autzen is no cake walk anymore. And if 2016’s porous defense returns, Ryan Nall & OSU will score again…and again…and again. The Ducks remain stacked at RB, & QB Justin Herbert returns for a sophomore season poised to become a breakout QB in a conference full of them. The question is: Can they put it all together or is it still hopelessly broken?

 

@NoNattyForYou
I will preface this that I have no idea how this season will go down. Generally, from January to July I am really pessimistic, thinking that Oregon sucks and we’re going to lose every game. Come August, I have somehow made my expectations way too high. I convince myself that Oregon will go undefeated, with position players winning every award imaginable.

This year is different. Every aspect of this team is questionable. Is this coaching staff equipped to navigate the grind of the deepest conference in the country (suck it, SEC honks)? Do the players actually give a shit this year, or will the first loss turn everyone in Pharaoh Brown clones? Is the offense going to keep clicking like it has since Chip’s arrival, or will the Gulf Coast offense be a spectacular failure (Taggart’s offense was brutal his first 2 years at USF)? Is the defense going to be a dumpster fire like it was last year, or will Leavitt be able to shave off 10ppg? What in the hell will the special teams look like?

I don’t feel confident in my answers to any of those questions, but you can take my prediction to the bank anyways.

I like this staff if I’m looking at a long-term trajectory. This year there will be ups and downs, but I expect Taggart will right the ship midseason. Personnel wise, the team is “awfully young.” It will take Taggart time to get his players in the program and for Helfrich’s leftovers to truly buy-in, which obviously won’t happen this season. I think the players care right now, but I do expect some to quit after a loss or two. The offense is going to be up and down, tearing apart the terrible defenses and struggling against the elite ones. The defense will be similar, but I do expect a moderate improvement. Special teams are probably the area I am most confident in my prediction, and I expect them to be average.

So how do I see this season shaking out? Staying true to the degenerate gambler that I am, I like to hedge. Oregon fans going into the season with moderate expectations will be happy, the ones who think we’re winning 10 games will be disappointed.  I think we’ll be 3rd or 4th in the North. Overall it will be something to build on, but nothing spectacular. We’ll win some games we aren’t expecting and probably lose at least one game that is inexcusable. There will be a lot of promising pieces to build on going into 2018 and the hype before next year will be similar to what USC experiences every year.

 

@UODuckGirl
The post Mariota hangover is officially gone. We needed last season to happen. As brutal as it was we were still trying to figure out post Mariota world by applying band-aids (Dakota) and it wasn’t working. Team was fractured. Now, you can just tell that something is different. New regime, fresh start. We will 100% make a decent bowl game. I think we make the Pac 12 playoff game as well.

 

@BigShaun
I’m cautiously optimistic for the season.

There’s a weird thing in sports and football in particular where when things go bad, they can spiral so far out of control that a team looks and plays much worse than they actually are. The transverse can also be true. When a big change happens that, for the players, feels like the :cough Helf: demons have been exorcised and players start believing in themselves and their teammates again, teams can outperform everybody’s expectations. So with that said, #WeNatty baby!! You want proof? Winged helmets are back! They go with 11 and 12 win seasons like peas and friggin carrots! We all know this, dems the rules. I don’t make the rules.

In all seriousness, I don’t know what to expect. And that’s just fine. But I’m excited as heck about Oregon Football again. Last year left a used baby diaper taste in all of our mouths. I, admittedly, wasn’t excited about the Taggart hire immediately. I had never really heard about him and the only thing I had to go on was his record from WKU and USF, which overall was not super impressive – not realizing the challenges he faced rebuilding those programs. I got caught up on wanting to row a boat somewhere. I didn’t care if there was an iceberg in the path. I just needed a life-preserver for my team. But the more I learned and saw of Taggs, and saw the energy he and the (so far) A+ staff he has brought in, the more I have bought in. And by social media comments you get the idea that the team has bought in. The past players are getting on board. There’s a momentum building that is exciting.

At the end of the day, Oregon will be as good as the defense allows them to be. I think Leavitt and crew coaching on the defensive side of the ball are more than capable to turn the defense around. I’m hoping we see a jump into the 70s or 80s in terms of defensive rank this year. That will be a significant improvement over last year, leaping some 40-50 spots.

If I have to place a number of wins on the team this year, I’m going out on a limb and will say a regular season record of 9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday bowl and we’re all knocking on our friend’s door who lives in Del Mar looking for a crash pad in December (move over, Abby). But I’m not going to be disappointed if the team goes 5-7 either. It’s a rebuilding year and there are some holes to fill in several key positions.

 

@GoDucksTroll
A lot of rushing yards. The seventh ranked defense in the Pac-12.

 

@WildKingdumb
I have faith that the defense will at some point this season hold an opponent under 20 points.  This roster is talented and maybe more importantly motivated.  Not just for person gains, but motivated to fight *for* their teammates and the coaching staff.  Look, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won only 4 games or as many as 9 games, but I know the defense won’t be as bad as last season, and the offense might just have a very special year.

 

@JonathanAdams
Let me preface this by saying that I’m generally positive about the Willie Taggart era at Oregon. He seems to be a terrific recruiter (although a lot can change between now and signing day), and he changed the fortunes of both Western Kentucky and South Florida before arriving in Eugene. But I do not get the general positivity about the 2017 season.

Jim Leavitt will improve the defense — they’ll jump 50 spots in the rankings and still be terrible. Graduate transfer Scott Pagano seemed to be poised to help on the defensive line, but he’s still recovering from foot surgery. The Ducks are starting linebackers who weigh less than 200 pounds, and the secondary is a delightful mix of veterans who weren’t that good last season and dudes who were at prom three months ago.

I suppose the offense will be fine, as long as no one gets hurt. Darren Carrington’s stupidity means Charles Nelson is by far the most experienced returning receiver, but he’s also returning punts and kickoffs, and if that doesn’t terrify you maybe Google Walter Thurmond and Devon Allen. And let’s not even think about what happens if Justin Herbert gets hurt.

Oregon’s bowl game hopes hinge, I think, almost entirely on the five games in September. They’re all eminently winnable, but a 2-3 start is just as likely to me as a 5-0 run. The games in October and early November are going to be brutal (a five game losing streak is definitely in play) so they need a fast start if they want to be playing in December.

 

@JARomney
The season is over.

Not that anyone with an ounce of honesty in their blood didn’t already know that. When you’re forced to start two LB’ers listed at 195 pounds, and rely on two true freshman on the defensive line, there is no way to objectively be good. Does Scott Pagano fully recover from spring surgery? Does the new fangled JC transfer, Malik Young, adjust to the Pac 12 level after arriving in Eugene 47 seconds ago? Hopefully? Because if so, the Oregon defense could go from a 1989 Eagle Premier, to a 1995 Dodge Neon! Hooray! Still bad, but bad is better than historically bad. That’s it, that’s where the season pivots from bad to “bad team in a bowl” bad. Justin Herbert will be good, Royce Freeman will regain his form from his first two years, and the suddenly experienced offensive line will be talking point next year that annoys people from outside the UO fan bubble. But scoring 45 points a game isn’t as dandy when you allow 50.

Oregon will finish 7-5, because the Arizona schools are abject trash inching towards coaching changes, Cal is Cal, and Oregon State will have quit on the season after a five game losing streak in the middle of the season by the time they come to Autzen. Oh, have I mentioned that Jim Mora Jr and Mike Riley are also on the schedule? 7-5 by default, practically.

 

 

FINAL SEASON RECORD PREDICTION

@SwooshMcDuck
7-6. Oregon sneaks into a bowl game by stealing a couple of toss-up games along the way. It’s not what we’ve come to expect, but it’s better than where we were. #GoDucks.

@NoNattyForYou
8-4 (6-3)

@UODuckGirl
10-2

@BigShaun
9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday Bowl

@GoDucksTroll
9-3, with a Holiday Bowl berth

@WildKingdumb
7-5, with losses against NEB, WSU, FURD and UW with a random clunker thrown in… At least that’s how I feel right now. (Update: I am reading this again and I’m dumb cause now I think we are winning 9 games MINIMUM.  YEAH YOU HEARD ME.)

@JonathanAdams
5-7.  Put me down for a slower-than-hoped-for start, a rough middle, and a 5-and-7 final record.

@JARomney
7-5

 

#GoDucks