Well Ladies, “We’re going going back back to Autzen Autzen!!” 🙂
After a VERY long off-season, we are finally here! I hope you’re as excited as I am to watch the Ducks dominate and climb up the polls! We are currently ranked #5 in the AP Poll, and I’m sure Chip Kelly didn’t turn down an NFL coaching job to go back to the Rose Bowl (not that that’s a bad place to be). This team is ready to return to the BCS National Championship, make no mistake about it! Before we get too carried away though, we have just a few games to get through 🙂 Tomorrow’s opponent, Arkansas State, is definitely expected to lose big, but it’s important to note they went undefeated in their conference last year, and their head coach Auburn’s (they beat us in the National Championship) Offensive Coordinator. They are a non conference team, (non PAC 12) which means the win, or loss, doesn’t count toward our conference standing. It does however matter for our BCS and AP poll rankings (more on that later). So as “little” as the game may seem, the Ducks must win it, and must not get too cocky. The key to the Ducks’ success is that they seem to have learned this well. They cannot assume anything and will have to Win The Day…even tomorrow!
1st Down- “Behind The Scenes”
This past week has been full of all sorts of Oregon Football news including the whole “Groupon” thing (apparently Oregon’s sell-out streak is in jeopardy), and the near transfer of now second string quarterback, Bryan Bennett. That brings us to one of the biggest story lines for this game. If you’ve been reading my blog (or any other news in the past week), you already know that Marcus Mariota will be the starting quarterback for the Ducks tomorrow, playing in his first college game, EVER! We already know I’m a huge fan, just based on the little I’ve seen him practice and scrimmage, but I can’t help but feel sad for Bennett, who was beat out of the starting position. Bennett was expected to be the starter, but it seems Mariota beat him out during fall camp (practice). I can’t imagine how he must feel at this point. He was one of the top recruits in the country, proved he could lead the Ducks last year when Thomas was hurt, and then “slap”, second string. Imagine planning your dream vacation- saving all your extra money for a year, losing 20 lbs for the bikini, having your nails “did”,and tanning every day for 2 weeks- only to be turned away because the lady in first class took the last seat on a sold-out flight. OK so not the same thing, but you get the idea. The poor guy has lost the starting job he’s probably worked his whole life for; and he’s lost it to a guy who’s never even played in a college game. Here’s the thing though…the story ain’t over yet. As much as I like Mariota, I’m sure he knows tomorrow is his big NCAA audition. He knows he has to live up to the hype and prove he was the right pick! If not, Bennett will happily take over. My prediction is that Mariota will deliver, but Bennett will have his chance to play after the Ducks go up 42-3 by the half.
2nd Down- “X’s and O’s”
Since we are starting a new season, I’ve decided to kick off your football education section with one term….
“Spread Offense”. I’m going to keep this short and sweet since it can get a little complicated. I do think it’s a good term to understand though, since you will hear it ALL season long-especially when referring to the Ducks. I know most of the guys in my life will have a good time critiquing my explanation, but here it goes…
Basically the Spread Offense refers to how the team with the ball lines up at the line of scrimmage (where the ball is snapped from). Each team can only have 11 players on the field and they have to decide which types of players (ie. Wide Receivers, Running Backs) to have on the field. Teams that play with a “Spread Option” will have several receivers and one or two running backs lined up and SPREAD across the field. This will SPREAD the defense out and open up “holes” (spaces) for the offense to run through, or the quarterback to pass through. That’s the idea anyway. The concept is good, but it does have a down side. With the players spread out, the quarterback doesn’t have many players near to protect him; therefore he has to make fast decisions, getting the ball handed off, or passed quickly-easier said than done.
Both Oregon and Arkansas State play with this style of offense. Look to see how both SPREAD their players out (this is mainly so you can sound really smart at your tailgater or post-game party!)
3rd Down- “What to Watch For”
There are about nine million things to watch for tomorrow, but the most fun, and easiest, will definitely be the QB show! Watch for “Mr. Island Finesse” to blow it up in his first college game day debut.
Also watch for which Duck receiver will bust out! There are several solid receivers this year (see previous posts), and there is a big question mark surrounding which one(s) will become Oregon’s next play maker!
Last but not least, watch for how the Ducks choose to use De’Anthony Thomas. Watch to see if he mostly runs the ball (Running Back), or catches passes (Wide Receiver). He was recruited to play at RB, but has shown he is a great receiver as well! As a side note, Kenjon Barner will take over where Lamichael left off. Watch to see how he handles the job! Don’t worry, we’ll be talking about him ALL season!!!
See ya tomorrow!!! And as always, Go Ducks!
4th Down- “Q&A”
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