Shortly following Oregon's last game at Cal, I found myself relieved, exhausted and welcoming a bye week which would certainly offer me an opportunity to relax and recharge before another 60 minute grind versus the Wildcats of Arizona. With every passing game the tension seems to rise; plays seem to matter more, leads seem to matter less and minutes seem to drag when ahead, yet fly-by when behind. So understandably, I was looking forward to watching others toil with the ebbs and flows of their team, while the Ducks offered me the chance to enjoy a week of careless solitude.
Oh, the best laid plans.
I say that because in the midst of my weeklong splendor I was confronted with a hazard…or two…or three which angrily interrupted my bye-week-bliss. These hazards have become commonplace on blogs, in the media and amongst the general public who almost eerily seem to be sitting within arm's reach of me at every restaurant, coffee shop or drinking establishment I frequently eat, drink or throw back at.
And they're killing me…not softly.
Hazard #1 – Oregon's offense has been solved
I think this one falls under the "knee-jerk reaction" umbrella. Washington plays Oregon tough for a half and Cal (who everyone spoke to their superior athleticism prior to the game) stifles the Ducks in Berkeley, and it's "everyone overboard?" Really? People have tried the very same scheme versus Oregon before and it's resulted in very different outcomes. Is it not possible that Oregon failed to execute? Is it not possible that Cal just executed really, really well? I know that some have broken down the film and have left fearing the worst, but I too watched film (via ESPN and my trusty computer) and left with a far different outlook. I saw missed blocks, open receivers and lineman being shoved into the backfield on the snap of the ball. All things detrimental to offensive success, and all things which can be corrected and controlled by Oregon's players and coaching staff. One of the "Worldwide Leader's" talking heads spoke to this very thing last week and disavowed the "kryptonite" theory, citing merely an uncharacteristically bad game by Darron Thomas as the primary reason for Oregon's ineptitude.
I think it's easy for people outside of the program to get caught up in the success Oregon has had over the course of the 2010 campaign and forget that in spite of that success, there are good teams, good players and very good coaches in this conference, who on a given day can defeat even the best of teams.
Hazard #2 – Chip Kelly's demeanor during pre, halftime and post-game interviews is out of line and ultimately detrimental to his team
This one strikes me as an absolute joke! As a quasi-media member I understand that it is the coach's responsibility to communicate with media, however I also understand that he is under no obligation to give me the answers I want, nor is he obligated to deliver them in the manner which I want him to. It will forever amuse me how people in the media speak to Chip Kelly's "arrogance," because he fails to indulge them in their own.
Hazard #3 – Winning may not be enough. The Ducks may have to win with "style" to ensure a trip to the National Title game
I think I'm going to side with 99.9% of the pundits on this one that says simply that if Oregon wins out, they're playing for the National Title. Regardless of whether they win by 1, 10 or 50 over the last 2 weeks, I think I'm in the majority on this one when I say that an undefeated Boise State or TCU will remain behind the Ducks in every major, minor or completely meaningless poll in existence.
That's it; I needed to get that off of my chest. I've spent the better part of 2 weeks listening and reading to those allegedly in the know, those nowhere near the know, and those further from the know than that slowly ratcheting-up the tension level of every Duck fan who'll begrudgingly listen to anything Oregon. And I'm exhausted because of it. I would like to see Oregon win as much as the next guy, but I'm not willing to compromise my insanity in the process, or am I interested in allowing others to aid me in it. The Ducks are undefeated, ranked #1 and 2 games from a place previously thought to be out of reach. They've become highly respected, feared by some and touted by many to be on their way to a National Championship, so I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to enjoy the Arizona game, enjoy the Civil War and then enjoy a bowl game whose outcome could be out of this world. Journeys like this don't come around all that often people, so I recommend taking-in the ride…I know I will.
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