Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Best Case Scenario is That There is No Worst Case Scenario

The sign in the tunnel says "Win the Day," and that's the center of Coach Kelly's philosophy. He's a process-oriented guy who has succeeded quickly in getting the Ducks to buy in to this approach, so much so that LaMichael James was talking about watering the bamboo in post game interviews after the Civil War. The players understand. Ask them about conference championships or national rankings and they'll answer with the start of practice next week and New Mexico.

The Ducks don't look ahead, but there's no reason we can't. We're fans. That's what we do.

2010 Oregon Football Schedule
Sep 04 New Mexico
Sep 11 at Tennessee
Sep 18 Portland State
Sep 25 at Arizona State
Oct 02 Stanford
Oct 09 at Washington State
Oct 23 UCLA
Oct 30 at USC
Nov 06 Washington
Nov 13 at California
Nov 20 Arizona
Dec 4 at Oregon State

September 4th, before a packed house, Autzen loud, the Ducks roll in the opener. The defense is slashing, stifling, relentless. The offensive line stuns with its midseason precision. Kenjon Barner and Lache Seastrunk spend the afternoon on the second level as the Ducks roll up 57 points and 500 yards of offense. Chip empties the bench. Michael Clay and Javes Lewis contribute interceptions, and Ricky Heimuli announces himself with a second quarter safety after Jeff Maehl downs a Jackson Rice punt inside the three. It's the only punt of the first three quarters, and Oregon even turns that into points. The Lobos get one lone touchdown in the fourth quarter against the third team defense, and even then Zac Clark blocks the extra point. Oregon 57 New Mexico 6

The ESPN talking heads want to turn the Tennessee game into a referendum on the soft PAC-10 versus the athletic ability and hard hitting of the SEC but the showdown never develops. The Ducks are fierce and focused in this one and decide it early, scoring on their first four drives and getting a defensive touchdown when Eddie Pleasant scoops and scores on a fumble off a Kenny Rowe quarterback sack. It's 35-3 at halftime, and Darron Thomas plays most of the second half, throwing for two more scores and running for another, leading the Thomas supporters to clamor for him to take over. "Nate Costa is our quarterback," Kelly says, glaring down an Oregonian columnist who poses the inevitable question, trying to stir up controversy. "I expect every one of our players to work every day to get better." Costa has left little room for criticism in the first two weeks, throwing for 500 yards and five scores without an interception, completing 68% of his passes, distributing the ball like a savvy veteran among his fast, shifty running mates. "They have a lot of weapons," Tennessee Coach Dooley says afterward, "They come at you from every which way, like that monkey in the bar fight in the old Clint Eastwood movie." It was an orangutan, coach, but we get the idea. Oregon 56, Tennessee 14

Reece Davis breaks into an afternoon Big Ten game with a shocker: midway through the first quarter Oregon trails lowly Portland State 14-0. A blown assignment in the secondary led to a quick opening touchdown, and when Cliff Harris mishandles the ensuing kickoff, the Vikes get the ball inside the ten, and suddenly the Autzen crowd is restless and grumbling and Nigel Burton's team is fired up on the sidelines. Appalachian State? People are wondering and whispering. The murmurs grow louder when the offense sputters on the first three possessions. A visibly enraged Chip Kelly is chewing out the offensive line on the bench. The drunken belligerents actually boo Nate Costa after he misfires on a seam route. But on 3rd and long LaMichael James breaks off a 43-yard run, Brandon Williams catches his first touchdown as a Duck, and by halftime it's 17-14 Oregon. The Ducks get the ball first in the second half and Costa leads a precise, flawless drive, scoring in just over two minutes, the defense forces a three and out with three straight plays for losses, and before the tailgaters are back in their seats the Ducks lead stretches to 32-14 when they add a two-point conversion on a Darron Thomas audible on a swinging gate play. Costa and the first team add ten more points, giving way at the start of the fourth quarter, and Terrance Mitchell adds a pick six. Oregon 49, Portland State 17

Next: Games 4-6. The SI cover jinx and ascending to a top three ranking and an appointment with Game Day.

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