This Could Be Exciting

There's said to be no substitute for experience. No amount of reps, tutelage, or hours watching film will increase your level of it. You can't simulate it in practice and it doesn't grow on trees.

So how does one compensate for such a deficiency?

You don't. You overcome it.

You overcome it with teamwork. The great Vince Lombardi once said, "Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." That is what the Ducks must do, and they need to do it in droves.

Beginning with the defense, they must depend on the experience they have, to mentor those who have not. The secondary will be relying heavily on standouts J.D. Nelson and Patrick Chung to teach young players like Walter Thurmond, Terrell Ward, and Willie Glasper not only physical techniques, but situational and practice habits as well. The same habits and techniques taught to them by players such as Justin Phinisee and Aaron Gipson. The same habits taught to them by Steve Smith and Rashad Bauman. Habits which breed confidence, chemistry, and eventually success.

While success is generally everyone's goal, it is the ability to put aside individual acclaim in exchange for institutional recognition, which separates winners from losers.

Why do individual goals and an infatuation with them become counterproductive to a team's aims? Because they diminish focus, and in the case of a team sport such as football, the focus is and always should be winning.

While everyone remembers USC's talent in years past, with names such as Leinart, Palmer and Bush to name a few, it was the attitude and team concept brought to the Trojans by Head Coach Pete Carroll which allowed them to ascend beyond winning seasons and bowl games, to conference and national championships. Carroll nurtured the talent which had always been a part of Southern Cal, and resurrected a sleeping giant in the world of college football. Throughout their run, they've always related their winning ways with a winning mindset.

Oregon needs that mindset. The mindset that was an integral part of last year's ten win season. The mindset that gave inexperienced quarterbacks Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf the confidence to produce late season wins and maintains momentum built by seniors Kellen Clemens, Terrence Whitehead and Demetrius Williams.

Coaching legend Joe Paterno once stated, "When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality." That's the mindset veterans such as Brent Haberly and Matt Toeaina need to instill in newcomers Jeremy Gibbs and Dexter Manley II. An attitude with limitless expectations and a willingness to think big.

This team's going to make mistakes. It would be foolish to think otherwise. But it will be how they deal with those mistakes, as well as how they learn from them which will dictate the success of the season.

With playmakers like Jonathan Stewart, Dennis Dixon and Dante Rosario handling the ball, the 2006 Oregon Ducks will be a touchdown waiting to happen. Jordan Kent could be a budding superstar, Derrick Jones is an exciting question mark, and Cameron Colvin is on everyone's list of players on "the verge," but "ifs," "buts," "coulds," and "shoulds" often equal disappointment. So here's to "us," "we," and absolutely no "I's," for some without the others could add up to something good.

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