And it’s finally here…the REAL Duck Football season. Oregon’s PAC 12 Conference play begins this Saturday when the Wildcats and their “Zona Zoo” makes their way to Autzen. I know as a Duck fan I’m suppose to hate The Huskies but honestly, along with Stupid Boise State, Arizona is one of my most despised football teams. Some of you may have seen me on a recent PAC-12 Network show, “The Classics”, where I talked about my last visit to the Zona Zoo. Seriously, I’m lucky I made it out of the stadium alive! It was the most dangerous stadium I’ve ever been to, and I was absolutely disgusted by the hostile fans. I vowed never to go back and Arizona made it’s way to my “Teams-To-Hate” list. So, what does that mean? Well, it means I AM VERY EXCITED TO WATCH MY DUCKS PUT THE SMACK DOWN and you should be too!
1st Down- “Behind the Scenes”
Make no mistake, the Oregon vs. Arizona rivalry has become increasingly hostile over the past few years. In 2007, Arizona ended Oregon’s run toward the National Championship after Oregon QB Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury. The Ducks redeemed themselves and have won the past 4 years, including the famous 2009 match up in Arizona where the Ducks stunned a fan-rushed field in double over-time. (Yes, I was there).
The Ducks entered this week ranked at #3 in the country in both the AP and USA Today Polls. Like I said last week, that means they are kind of a big deal. And, as an added bonus our very own De’Anthony Thomas made his way to the cover of Sports Illustrated (Woot Woot!). This is good and bad. The good is that the Ducks are getting a lot of national attention and street cred. The bad is that every team in the PAC 12 is out to get them. Every team will bring their A-game, and Oregon will have to bring it every week. Don’t worry, they already know this.
Arizona will look to prove they have what it takes to steal the show, but it’s not going to be easy. They have a new coach this year and a new Quarterback, and a lack of depth (multiple experienced/solid players that can play one position, allowing players to rest and rotate out) on defense. They are however currently undefeated, beating both a less-than-exciting team (Toledo), and a highly ranked team- Oklahoma State.
By no means is Arizona expected to win this game, but the reality is the Ducks haven’t really been challenged them. This is the first real test of the season, and the Ducks will be ready. One thing the Ducks will be focused on is NOT getting penalties. They have broken the football rules a few too many times in the past 3 games, and this can be dangerous in PAC 12 play (More of that below in X’s and O’s). One thing Arizona will be focused on is De’Anthony Thomas. Need I say more? When asked about DAT, Arizona’s Head Coach replied, “He is just a sophomore right? Can he come out early? I think we got to push him out right now. I think De’Anthony, you have shown enough, proven enough. It’s time to go to the NFL. Maybe he will go before Saturday, you think?”.
2nd Down-“X’s and O’s”
Let’s talk Penalties. (If you are already a football genius, feel free to skip to 3rd Down) During every football game, there is likely going to be some penalties called. This obviously means, one team or the other has broken the rules. Penalties generally give the non-offending team yardage. For example, if a defensive player grabs the quarterback’s face mask, a “personal foul-face mask” penalty will likely be called. That allows the offense to move 15 total yards closer to the end zone. The following is an excerpt out of our “football 101 section” that breaks down other types of penalties.
Some of the most frequent calls are:
- Holding – offensive holding is when the team with the ball tries to block a defensive player by grabbing or holding his body or uniform. Defensive Holding is called when a defensive player blocks an offensive player by grabbing or holding his body or uniform. HOWEVER if a defensive player grabs or holds a player who is trying to catch the ball, the penalty is called Pass Interference.
- Offsides – When the Defense suddenly moves forward before the other team snaps (hikes) the ball.
- False Start – When the Offense (team with the ball) suddenly moves in an attempt to get the defense to move “OFFSIDES”.
- Personal Foul – Examples of this might be a player grabbing another player’s face mask, punching another player, trying to make helmet to helmet contact.
3rd Down- “What To Watch”
Things should be pretty hyped up-most night games are. Both teams will be out to prove themselves and both teams rush the field with lots of energy. The crowd will be electric and completely blacked out (tomorrow’s color is black).
Watch for Arizona to attempt to contain DAT and Barner, forcing Mariota to pass as much as possible. They have to know this will be the Ducks’ weakness given the continued wait for a break out Duck Receiver.
Watch for both teams to try some trick plays-especially the Ducks. They won’t pull out all their tricks, but look for 1 or 2. The past couple games have been a bit blah, and part of the reason for this is that no team wants to reveal all their secrets, when it just isn’t necessary.
This should be a great game, and although it isn’t likely to be Oregon’s toughest game of the season, it won’t be a walk in the park either. All I can say is thank goodness we have a little bit of this, and a little bit of DAT (OK, cheesy, I know).
4th Down- “Q & A”
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