Indeed, the nightmare is over. The experiment has come to an end. And never again will such a foolish attempt at righteousness be…well…attempted. While not quite turning water to wine, my stab at a miracle was an effort to spin a life-long pessimist in the direction of hope. You know, that magical place which turns frowns upside down, where glasses are always half-full, and there is only a "bright" side to everything. A place frequented by many, but permanent residency is established by few…and certainly not by a negatite like yours truly. However, in the interests of Duck fans everywhere, I started down the yellow brick road towards hope, looking for Oz, the Wizard, and anything else that might steer me from reality, numb my pain, or convince me that the impossible were possible.
When Dennis Dixon went down in a heap that ill-fated Thursday evening in Tucson, my gut waived good bye to a season overflowing with hope. Hope of a National Championship, a Heisman Trophy, and endless amounts of praise and recognition for a university growing increasingly thirsty for all of the above. What once seemed so grand, in a second became anything but.
So rather than face reality, take my medicine, and begin my slow painful recovery from titanic disappointment; I bit the forbidden fruit.
Opposed to common sense, I chose ignorance. Opposed to responsibility, I chose rationalizations. And opposed to intelligence, I opted for idiocy. All ingredients for a recipe called "Optimism."
I convinced myself that things would be okay. Sure, Dennis Dixon was the straw that stirred the drink, but one man does not a team make. After-all, Oregon had already survived season-ending injuries to players such as Brian Paysinger, Cameron Colvin, and Jeremiah Johnson.
I told myself that the remaining players would carry the team with levels of determination and fortitude never seen in Eugene. Jonathan Stewart would put the team on his back and will his compatriots to victory. The defense would rise to the occasion, overshadowing a shell of an offensive unit once thought to be the cream of the NCAA crop. And certainly the coaching staff would band together and retool a scheme which maximized the strengths and minimized the weaknesses of the remaining roster of athletes.
Of course Dixon's loss was going to be catastrophic. He made everything else work. The running game worked, because of the threat of Dixon running. The passing game worked, because of the threat of Dixon running. And the defense played well, due to the knowledge of Dixon scoring points. Like it or not, this team revolved around Dennis Dixon playing quarterback. I knew it, but I tried to fool myself into thinking otherwise.
A lot of good it did me…or the Ducks.
So today it ends. No more delusions of grandeur. I will prepare for the worst, so as to not be disappointed. I will expect little to nothing, so as to be pleasantly surprised. And I will look forward to next year, so as to minimize any stake I may have in the Sun Bowl and its resulting mark on the 2007 football season. In addition to the aforementioned, I will expect the following, in hopes that quite the opposite will occur:
Be it Roper or Kempt, neither of our greenhorn quarterbacks will be able to execute the offense in a manner worthy of a victory. It's not possible for an inexperienced QB to lead his team to victory in a bowl game versus a motivated, athletically gifted opponent the likes of South Florida.
Jonathan Stewart's toe can't possibly be near 100%. Turf Toe is notorious for lingering the duration of an athlete's season, only healed by months of inactivity.
Why would I expect anything more than what I saw last year in Las Vegas? This team had goals of a National Championship or BCS Bowl Game, not a Sun Bowl game versus a Florida university not named Florida, Florida State or Miami. Little motivation leads to little effort, which results in big deficits.
The Ducks have lost four consecutive bowl games. Why should I expect anything else?
Oregon always folds down the stretch, so a loss today is merely part of the plan.
There, I've laid it all on the table. Not an optimistic thought to be found. Very little hope, nearly no chance of victory, and absolutely zero faith in Oregon's personnel, coaches, or history.
It's good to be back.
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