Monday, August 16, 2010

Everybody's Entitled to My Opinion

Just mention Thomas or Costa online and fifty people will post the definitive answer. And they'll be split 26-24. Duck fans, and football fans in general, love a quarterback controversy.

Going into the second week of camp most of the writers have the competition as very close. Coach isn't sayin'. "One's number one, and the other's one," he answers, enigmatic as the Mona Lisa admiring The Sphinx while having Garbo over for cocktails. Both guys have shown flashes of brilliance and flashes of brain death. It has to be hard, because a lot is riding on their camp performance, and they're going against the number one defense in the West, a defense that knows what's coming.

Devotees of Thomas say he has a bigger upside and is more athletic. The Costa supporters say he's more mature and will make better decisions.

It's interesting that people discount the "manage the game" element of the quarterback competition, because the person who first drew the point guard analogy was Coach Kelly.

I guarantee the quarterback he chooses will succeed in the Oregon offense, and he will be coached to use and manage the talent around him. The Ducks have a very good chance of success with either one of them.

But Costa wins the job. He's smoother. He will make better decisions. And the offense will move the chains in a variety of ways. His first two drives in the spring game were masterful, and he didn't have James or Barner in the backfield. I think he'll throw for 250 a game and run for fifty, and the Oregon offense will be just fine. It may even thrive.

Here's a question: given the questions and potential on this team, what's a reasonable expectation? Is anything less than a repeat conference championship and the Rose Bowl a disappointment? Is it realistic or myopic to expect 10-2 from this group?

I say it's very realistic, provided they have reasonable health. LaMichael James' injury has to prove a false alarm, and their defensive tackles have to emerge and stay injury-free. The depth and speed and ability everywhere else is frightening.

Year two of Chip Kelly could be a stunning achievement. The commitment to organization, focus and excellence this group has is amazing. Kelly has them in 45 minutes of character development class every day, and they speak with one voice. This group will win a lot of football games. They are favorites for several good reasons, and the chief reason is they won't take anything for granted. They want to get better every day, and they are working hard to do so.

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