The unexpected loss in Fresno made some prognosticators question whether an 11 or 12 win season was possible, especially when perusing the remainder of the schedule. But guess what Beaver fans! I’m not backing down from that win total just yet!
Now, I’ll be the first to admit it, I am a Beaver fan. For all of you screaming, “Beaver homer!,” hang on to your collective selves. Incredibly, it is entirely possible to have an objective opinion about something, while at the same time being a fan. I’m also very definitely an Oakland Raiders fan; if truth be told, I really do bleed silver and black (and orange). But I will also tell you with much assurance, the Raiders are stinking it up. That doesn’t mean I’m off the Raiders bandwagon or giving up on the team, it’s simply the objective truth.
|The Washington State game on October 10 could be for the Pac-10 title.|
So, why is it that I’m still confident in an 11 or 12 win season? Why, after seeing the currently ninth ranked University of Southern California (Kaaleefornia for Mr. Schwarzenegger) Trojans, twelfth ranked Washington State University Cougars, and formerly Top-25 ranked University of Washington Huskies and University of Oregon Ducks ALL on the upcoming schedule do I still believe? The answer is simple: peak.
The American Heritageâ Dictionary defines peak in its fourth definition as: The point of greatest development, value, or intensity. Peak…a simple four-letter word that can be uttered without fear of retribution just about anywhere but in the world of sports. Peak too soon, and you burn out ala the Ducks last year. Peak too late, and you don’t win the games you should have earlier in the season ala the Beavers two years ago. Peak at just the right time, and you’re called one of the best teams in college football ala the Trojans last year, the Ducks two years ago, and the Beavers three years ago.
The Beavers have yet to see their peak this year. They are a tremendously better team today than they were on opening day. But ask any player on the roster, any coach on the staff, or anybody that’s seen them play and knows even just a little about football, and they’ll tell you there is much room for improvement. Every athlete has to believe there is room for improvement or risk becoming complacent. There must always be a fire in the pit that keeps them yearning for a better performance.
Each week that fire has gotten hotter for the Beavers. Each week they’ve fed the fire with will and determination. Their feats on the field are indicative of the drive these players have to improve, to succeed, and they believe they can do better. They know it, the coaches know it, and you know it.
The Beaver defense clicked against the Sun Devils two weeks ago.
Improvement can be made in offensive execution, routes can be run more precisely, and balls that touch receivers hands can be caught. Special teams could be more consistent in kicking coverage while improvement can be made on mental indiscretions like wholly unnecessary and mindless penalties. In my humble opinion, hold all you need as to stop that breakaway touchdown, just be aware of the game situation. Hit hard and hit often when you can, but when the whistle blows, stop. Teams that are at their peak execute well in all those things and in every other facet of the game.
The Beavers aren’t quite there yet, and the bye this past week will give them some time to continue polishing the gleaming chrome and grease the moving parts in the engine. It also allows them time to rest and heal; something star running back Steven Jackson must be welcoming with open arms. He’s as tough as they come, but the pounding he endures each game will begin to wear anyone down.
The bye also allowed the Beavers to get one more week into the season before they peak. It allows them to get one week closer to the meat of their schedule, and allows one more week for improvement before their most difficult contests of the year.
In essence, it helps the Beavers continue the ascension to their peak as they enter the gauntlet of their Pac-10 schedule. So, I say to the NCAA, the Pac-10, and the schedulers a very warm thank you; the bye week was well timed for the Beavers in many ways.
Thanks for the breather.
Robert Nesta joined BeaverFootball.com in 2003. The views expressed in his column do not necessarily represent those of BeaverFootball.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.