Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Tweak Heard Round the World Wide Web

The advent of the blogosphere and fansites and forums has given college football fans more information and misinformation than ever before. Used to be, all we had were the preseason mags, written just after spring football, and sketchy reports from the PAC-10 skywriters, touring the camps in August before declaring USC the conference favorite.

The internet made the newspapers step up their game. The Oregonian has two full time reporters covering the Ducks, each posting two and three times a day. The Register-Guard graces us with Rob Moseley, the hardest working man in blogdom, the James Brown of beat reporters, churning out links and stories and tweets and practice reports to feed our obsession.

We enjoy more news and information about the growth and progress and prospects of our favorite team than ever before. With all that extra information, however, comes an unwanted bonus. It gives us more to worry about.

Chances are in years past Reuben Droughns tweaked a knee in practice, or Kellen Clemens had a couple of balls tipped in seven-on-seven and threw a couple of picks. Back then, though, we didn't know about it. We weren't in a position to follow every drill and bump and bruise of training camp. We didn't have access to five different reporters covering the team, a dozen different websites, and the guys from Addicted to Quack passing on the whispers and surprise developments of fourth string walk-on defensive tackles and freshman slotbacks. A senior walk-on tackle benches 540 and overpowers an offensive lineman and it's big news from Italy to Coos Bay. We know stuff, think we know stuff, and speculate endlessly. Because we love our Ducks.

Coach doesn't want us talking about injuries, formations and plays. That's inside information that could give a competitive edge to an opponent. But when LaMichael James hobbles out of practice with an ice bag on his knee, it's hard not to hold your breath. As good as Kenjon Barner and Lache Seastrunk may be, LMJ is the most potent weapon in the Duck offense, and losing him for an extended period of time is a frightful prospect. Good riddance to that trouble-prone quarterback who went south. But if LaMike isn't around to stick his foot in the ground and go from zero to sixty, the prospects for this season just got instantly dimmer.

He says he'll be fine, that he just got a scare. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I'll check every one of those dozen websites tomorrow, anxious for updates on the most valuable knee in green and yellow. Either way the Ducks will adjust. I just hope they don't have to. A game breaking back with James' speed and elusiveness and creativity is the rarest commodity in football, next to maybe a run-stuffing defensive tackle who can turn a double team into disruption and mayhem. I'll never forget LaMichael's signature run of last season. At UCLA, stopped dead in his own end zone, he makes a double spin move and breaks free for fifty. The only thing that stopped him was his own wide receiver got in his way trying to throw a block.

The talent to turn minus two and a safety into a fifty-yard gain is beyond amazing. If he stays healthy and stays for four seasons LMJ will break every career rushing record in the PAC-10. Please, please, please, by the grace of Juju, let yesterday be a false alarm.

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