If last weekend’s game against Colorado was an Ocean, Lady Oregon certainly hit rough waters and exposed some holes in her hull. Perhaps that’s why quarterback, Dakota Prukop, received a fitting text from a friend after throwing a late 4th quarter interception, leading to the Ducks’ loss against the Buffs.
“A smooth sea never made for a sure sailor,” the message read.
After the game, a solemn Dakota Prukop addressed the interception and seemed to carry the loss entirely on his shoulders. The interception however was just one of the many waves that damaged Oregon’s vessel.
Despite losing by just 3 points, Oregon’s youth, discipline/mentality issues, lack of explosive offensive plays and the ever-present defensive woes were clearly exposed, causing even the most faithful Ducks fans to consider jumping ship and calling for a complete program overhaul. Or, at least a new captain.
Fans may want to be careful what they wish for.
As Joel Gunderson from Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron, wrote about this week, making changes right now to the Oregon program could take what is likely a “transition year” and set it back years- something former quarterback echoed on CSNNW’s Talkin’ Ducks broadcast this week.
“The worst thing you can do is to jump off a cliff,” Harrington said before citing several top programs who made rash decisions to fire coaches and consequently saw their programs fall flat for several years.
Harrington is probably right.
Despite Dr. Social Media’s diagnosis, Oregon’s season isn’t lost. There are reasons to be concerned but it’s not too late to right the ship. Can the team contend for a National Title? Probably not, but the Pac 12 Title and a Rose Bowl birth aren’t off the table. And despite the many struggles the Ducks have had this season, they are just 6 points away from a smooth sea and top 10 (or 15) ranking.
In short, put on a life jacket but for Duck sake, stay on the ship.
This week, Lady Oregon returned to port and spent several days searching for its anchor, sealing the holes and repairing its sail. Its sailors also spent some time pressing their uniforms and reminding each other what it meant to wear it.
Though Oregon’s coaches have to accept some responsibility for the lack of discipline, questionable play calling and team mentality issues, it is ultimately the players who have to execute on the field. They have to be hungry and embrace an modern day Oregon culture that has proven successful.
After returning To the drawing board this week, team leaders called a players only meeting in attempt to rally the team. Ironically, one of the most outspoken players, following the meeting, was true freshman linebacker, Troy Dye, a bright spot on a struggling Oregon defense.
“We need to want it more,” Dye told reporters this week.
“A bunch of guys on the team just don’t want it. It is just that simple, I mean we just got to dig deep and find out what we really want and what the real outcome of the season we want to be.”
Though it has been a tough pill to swallow, maybe, just maybe, two back-to-back losses was the best thing for this team. . .in the long run. Sometimes a youthful team needs a reality check to build character and teach them how to fight. Quite frankly, a calm sea probably wouldn’t have prepared them for the storm ahead.
As Lady Oregon heads back to sea tonight, en route to The Palouse, it will look to show the world it has a solid captain and a repaired sail. There will surely be a few holes left to seal but hopefully, there will be enough hands (and buckets) on deck to bail the water and keep the ship upright.
If all goes well, Oregon fans will see a repaired ship full of sure sailors wearing nicely pressed uniforms, ready to add another stripe.