It’s been an ugly week in Oregon Football.
Between season-ending injuries to veterans, Tyrell Crosby and Devon Allen, losing to Nebraska and then falling out of the top 25 rankings for the first time in a long time, it’s hard not to see the green and yellow glass as half empty.
It’d be so much easier if that loss in Lincoln was just that- one loss.
But, it wasn’t.
Not only was the loss a costly one, it further highlighted the many problems fans had hoped would quickly resolve this season. Defensively, things looked grim and offensively, with the exception of the run game, things weren’t anywhere near where they could, or quite frankly, should be.
To be fair, there has to be some grace. This is a young team with two new coordinators, a new quarterbacks coach and a new-to-the-team quarterback. There were going to be growing pains. To expect the world would be ignorant.
But fans do have reason to be frustrated. Support your team and be respectful, but go ahead and be frustrated. The mistakes on the field this past Saturday were frustrating to watch. Between losing the game by 3 points, watching multiple failed 2 point conversion attempts, seeing several penalty flags thrown against Oregon (most warranted), and witnessing an 82 game with at least 1 passing touchdown streak snapped, it’s fair to voice concern. That doesn’t make you a bad fan- unless you’re disrespectful idiot while you’re doing it.
For the non-idiot Ducks fans, it’s time to get back on the wagon.
The dust has settled and while there are a lot of questions still to be answered, there’s a full schedule of conference games to get to, starting with this weekend’s home game against Colorado. It’s time to see that green and yellow glass as half full.
Yes, there have been many negatives this season, but moving forward, it’s time to turn the page and focus on the positive.
Yes, I’m serious.
I get it. Expectations were high and because they haven’t been met, gloom is blinding even the best of fans. It has them irrationally calling for a dismantling of the coaching staff, wishing Chip Kelly would return, despite the fact he lost big games too (and let us not forget the sanctions he earned the program before his quick departure), and considering the whole season a loss. For most fans, this irrational thinking will subside.
Let me lead you out of the fog.
Let’s get one things straight. There will still be growing pains and it would take a miracle to make it back to the Natty, or even the Top 10. That doesn’t mean this season can’t be a successful one that keeps Oregon in the “Elite Teams” talk. There is plenty to look forward to as the Ducks head into Pac 12 play.
1. Royce Freeman is ok. After a big scare in Nebraska, Oregon’s star running back is reportedly expected to return to the field. If needed, he will likely return this weekend. If he doesn’t however, last week taught us that the back ups-especially Tony Brooks-James- can not only get it done, but can get it done well.
2. Troy Dye is back on the depth chart this week. After a hugely successful first career start against UC Davis, Dye’s play time has been limited for unknown reason. This week, he’s listed atop the 2 deep, which should make fans very happy. This true freshman is definitely a bright spot on a struggling defense and could make a big difference moving forward.
3. Dakota Prukop didn’t have his best game last week, but for what it’s worth, he’s racked up more yardage than both Vernon Adams Jr. and Marcus Mariota did in their first 3 career starts. He’s shown he can run and has yet to throw an interception. If he can get tempo going just a bit faster (not all on him) and improve timing with the receivers, things should look up.
Should Prukop’s production stall, there’s every reason to believe that Herbert, Wilson or Jonsen can step in and take advantage of their chance.
4. The wide receivers and tight ends are talented enough to offset the defensive struggles this season. Last season was fairly successful, despite the defense being one of the worst in the FBS and Vernon Adam’s struggling with injuries throughout the season. This season’s team of receivers/tight ends is one of the most talented Oregon has seen in a while. If Prukop stays healthy and can connect more frequently with this group (while the run game remains strong), the offense should be able to overcome the defensive growing pains.
5. Many of the current issues can be quickly addressed, making an immediate impact for the better. Theoretically, the Ducks’ numerous penalties can be coached up and the “interesting” play calling can also be adjusted, especially with the tenure of coaches on this staff. In case you need a reminder, much of that staff has helped lead Oregon to numerous bowl games, conference and national championships.
Keep the faith, Ducks fans. Sure, the ride may get a little bumpy this season, but you’re sure to enjoy it much more if you drink from the glass that’s half full.
Follow Nichole Brown on Twitter @UOgridirongirl