Wow, is Oregon in trouble? Their first year coach is in over his head, their inexperienced offensive line is a debacle, and their receivers couldn't catch if they had three hands? Not to mention their quarterback's lost, their running backs are too young, and their fanbase has already thrown in the towel…and all before the first conference game?
At this point in time I'd like to suggest the following action for those in a state of panic over the season: One deep breath, a step back, a moment of relaxation and a yoga class or two. Why ? Simply to gain some clarity and perspective on a season 16.6% complete.
All of the assertions have been made regarding the Ducks in recent weeks, days, and minutes. I've heard local and national media alike question Coach Kelly's hire, second-guess Oregon's system, and sound the alarm of a season on the brink.
"Utah is a must-win game."
"The Ducks won't qualify for a bowl game."
"I don't see more than 4 winnable games left on their schedule."
I'm not Nostradamus and I don't even play him on the radio, in the paper, or on a television set near you, but apparently I'm the only one. When was a first-year coach evaluated on two games? How many teams play their best football in September? And what happened to the last two years? If you answered "never", "only the bad ones", and "nothing, they really happened", then you're either a rational thinking individual or an irrational one on the road to recovery.
Chip Kelly is in the midst of his first head coaching job and third year at an FBS competing school. It's going to take him a bit to settle in. While his organizational skills, discipline and attention to detail characteristics have been well documented, his in-game management is a work in progress. But two games is not a legitimate body of work, at least not one that can be accurately judged. It is September, they have played but two games, and I believe prior to the third of this month Mr. Kelly was an "offensive genius." In addition, Oregon's loss - while admittedly ugly – was merely 11 points at the hands of the 10th ranked team in the country, in a stadium in-which they've lost but 5 times in their last 75 games.
That's not Doomsday.
With a win today versus Utah, the Ducks can reestablish themselves as a viable Pac-10 contender. Not because of the win alone, but because of what it would represent; another leg of a journey whose destination's unknown.
Oregon and their young offensive line got better last week, and as long as they continue to do so, hope remains. It was unrealistic to expect this team to transition seamlessly from last year, but many did. An offensive line needs to be a cohesive unit and the only way to become such is through time and experience on the field. I'm convinced this can happen, but when and at what cost is still to be determined.
The Ducks aren't playing good football and I don't think that can be denied. But they are playing hard and improving. With every game they're closer to good, with every win they're closer to great and with every ridiculous statement, maybe we're closer to reality.
Everyone just needs to relax, 2-1 may only be 60 minutes away.
Game Day: Let's Get Real
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