Monday, January 10, 2022

Oregon fans ready for the Dan Lanning experience after Georgia championship romp


Dan Lanning's Georgia defense throttled the Alabama Crimson Tide offense in a bruising 33-18 win in the National Championship Game Monday Night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs kept constant pressure on Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and forced two interceptions, the second one returned 79 yards for a touchdown by safety Kelee Ringo.

Ringo's Pick Six came on third and 10 with :54 seconds to play, icing Georgia's first national title in 41 years.

The Dawgs sacked Young four times and hurried him throughout. They held Tide tailback Brian Robinson, who gashed Cincinnati for 204 yards on 26 carries in the semi-final, to 68 rushing yards in 22 attempts.

In all, the Lanning crew held the SEC champs to a net 30 yards on the ground. Young connected with tight end Cameron Latu and wide receiver Jameson Williams on big pass plays, but Georgia's big, quick, physical Front 7 stiffened in scoring territory, holding their opponent to four field goals through three quarters.

Bama's only touchdown came after a fumble recovery at the Georgia 16. With 11:35 to go in the fourth quarter Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett rolled right, pressured by Christian Bennett. Trying to avoid the sack as he was being tackled he attempted a pass but lost control of the ball. Though it went forward, officials ruled it a fumble. 

The call stood after review and The Tide scored four plays later on a short pass to Latu.

In all, though, the game was a triumph for Lanning and the Georgia defense. In the league championship game they'd been embarrassed by the Alabama passing game while losing 41-24. This time they dialed up more pressure and showed better conditioning, holding the nation's number three scoring offense (41.4 points a game) to just 18 points.

The relentless D gave Bennett and the Georgia running game time to get untracked.

For Duck fans, the game was a glimpse into the new head coach's vision for his future defense at Oregon. Though it will take a couple of seasons to amass the kind of talent Georgia employs on a squad with 19 five-star players, the cupboard is not bare in Eugene. A unit led by Noah Sewell, Justin Flowe, Brandon Dorlus, Popo Aumavae, Jeffrey Bassa, Bennett Williams and Christian Gonzalez can readily duplicate the pressure and aggressiveness against PAC-12 competition.

Monday's win in the rematch showed Lanning's ability to scheme, adjust and motivate. Already, recruits have taken notice.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Ducks lose again at the Alamodome

They call this the dead period, and for Dan Lanning and his new Oregon staff, it feels like it's almost time to visit Miracle Max.

Saturday morning at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Oregon suffered another decisive defeat, this time in the recruiting battle.

In a game full of top prospects from the 2022 class, Oregon had no breakthroughs, no commitments and no surprises.

MVP Rayshon "Speedy" Luke of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California announced he was choosing Arizona. He's a 10.5 sprinter with electrifying open-field moves, the closest thing this 2022 prospect group has to De'Anthony Thomas.


Jedd Fisch and the 1-11 Wildcats are kicking Oregon's butt in recruiting right now. The Wildcats have climbed to #22 in the Rivals Team Rankings after flipping Tetairoa McMillan in the early signing period and nabbing Luke today. They also grabbed another Duck target from the transfer portal, wide receiver Jacob Cowing of UTEP.

After 15 decommitments since the departure of Mario Cristobal, Oregon has fallen to 66th in the Rivals Team Rankings. The new staff is loaded with top recruiters, but they have a lot of work to do to avoid a lost year and damaging gaps in the future roster.

As the telecast unfolded and recruiting decisions were made, it got worse for the Ducks, a bit like falling behind 30-3 at halftime. Edge Rusher Cyrus Moss, a UO target who visited Eugene twice over the last year, chose the Miami Hurricanes. Dynamic wide receiver Kevin Coleman of St. Louis, Missouri shocked the college football experts by picking HBCU Jackson State, coached by Deion Sanders.

Coleman would have been a great pickup, fluid and super fast. Just this week Stephon "Boogie" Johnson decommitted from Oregon, leaving new wide receiver coach Junior Adams with zero new arrivals in his receiver room for 2022--McMillan, Coleman, Isaiah Sategna and Johnson, all gone.

The returning receiver candidates, Kris Hutson, Troy Franklin, Isaiah Brevard, Dont'e Thornton, Isaah Crocker and Seven McGee are all good players, a young group that had a good showing in the 47-32 loss to Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl, but it's important to replenish the depth after losing Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Devon Williams and Mycah Pittman.

That's a huge talent drain, especially when you consider that Lincoln Riley and USC nabbed Mater Dei 4-star wide receiver CJ Williams of Mater Dei. At the A-A Bowl Williams hauled in a touchdown bomb in the right corner of the end zone, then announced his college choice a few moments later.

It takes dudes to win in college football. Due to the unfortunate timing of losing a head coach just two weeks before Early Signing Day, Lanning and his new staff were placed in a very challenging position. After the National Championship Game on Monday, they'll immediately have to get to work on a salvage operation, patching and rebuilding a demolished recruiting class.

It'll be a bit like the aftermath of a hurricane.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Saturday Night Live offers a glimpse of Oregon football's future

 This Saturday night at 4:15 p.m., Mario Cristobal hosts the fifth annual Saturday Live Camp at Autzen Stadium.

50-75 high school prospects will be there from the 2022, 2023 and 2024 classes, working out and getting coaching from the Oregon staff.

The public is invited. Admission is free. The concession stands will be closed but fans can bring food and drink. For safety's sake, no glass bottles are allowed.

For the players, it's an opportunity to get some topflight instruction while touring Oregon's facilities and getting to meet Duck players and their coaches.

For fans, it's a first look at some of the standouts in the 2022 Oregon recruiting class including acrobatic Texas wide receiver Stephon "Boogie" Johnson and powerful defensive tackle Sir Mells  of Nevada.

Though not yet committed San Diego teammates Jalil Tucker and Jahlil Florence are two players to watch as well, agile Spidermen at cornerback. Both of them have run 10.7 in the 100 meters for Lincoln High School.

The quarterback group at SNL features 2022 commit Tanner Bailey from Gordo, Alabama and local product T.C. Manumaleuna of North Salem High, a 2024 prospect with advanced skills. He's from North Salem High. Though just a freshman, he's got a strong, accurate arm and tremendous promise.

With Kayvon Thibodeaux likely in his last season as a Duck, Oregon is shopping furiously for athletic pass rushers. The camp features two of the best in the West, San Diego standout Gracen Halton (already committed to UO) and Cyrus Moss of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Nevada (rumored to be announcing soon.)

The offensive line group is highlighted by 6-5, 330-pound guard David Iuli of Puyallap, Washington, who pledged to the Ducks earlier this month.

It's a great show with drills and a passing scrimmage. Sunshine, Autzen Stadium and a chance to picnic with fellow fans while enjoying a cold beverage.

Several of Oregon's current players will be on hand to watch the event. For the kids, they may be able to get a coveted autograph or three.

From Steve Mims, formerly of the Register-Guard, here's a glimpse of the 2019 event:

The Decision

 Yesterday a leaked internal report from the CDC surfaced, reported in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

It stated that the Delta Variant of the Covid Virus is more contagious than the measles, chicken pox or common cold. 

The report recommends an immediate return to masking and social distancing strategies, and urges unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.

A separate document urged caution, because the strain is so contagious that it can be spread by vaccinated people. 

The Delta Variant causes infections that are more severe. Rates of illness are surging around the country and the world.

Mask up, the CDC says, and get the jab.

This is a football blog. My reasons for posting this are simple. I want to do everything I can to keep my family safe and be able to enjoy sports again. 

"The war has changed," the CDC said. 

 Viruses mutate. Human civilization is in a race between insanity and misinformation and responsible personal behavior.

Research at the University of Alabama Birmingham concluded that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe and effective.

Mask up and get the shot. And go Ducks.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

No one ever rises to low expectations: why the 2021 Ducks are a championship squad


Mario Cristobal's approach is brilliant.

There's no reason to couch ambitions in false humility. It's refreshing to hear a coach say very directly, we're talented, we've worked hard and we know what our goals are.

I believe him, but I'm an old-school fan. Not surprising, because I'm old. 

To me what matters is winning the conference, beating Washington and Oregon State and going to the Rose Bowl. The playoffs involve politicking and perception--that's beyond anyone's control, and if the last two weeks have taught us anything it's that ESPN and SEC are in bed together. After all, they colluded to destroy a league.

One hundred years of tradition was no match for their desire to create a football monopoly.

Teams that belong to the power structure go to the trough first and it's hard to root them out of there. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame start the season on second base. 

Choose your metaphor, but the 4-team playoff and the national rankings are a rigged game with built-in biases.

Should the Ducks fall to Ohio State in Columbus, it will just confirm all the biases.

That's why I've always focused on what could be decided purely on the field, the conference championship and the right to earn a trip to Pasadena.

 If Cristobal stays and continues to develop as a head coach, if he trusts the great coordinators he's hired to call plays and run their units, if Oregon continues to recruit at a high level, they'll win a national championship in the next five years.

Everything would have to break perfect for this to be the year. Anthony Brown will have to be solid and reliable as the starting quarterback. The offensive line has to prove deep and cohesive with stronger play at left tackle. The young secondary has to hold together. Tim DeRuyter's organizational magic has to transform the defense.

If Kayvon Thibodeaux takes his place as the dominant defensive player in college football, I'm saying there's a chance.

They could beat the 16% odds to upend the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe.

Even if they don't, the PAC-12 media says they are favorites to win their third straight conference title.

I don't know how any Duck fan could be unhappy with that.

The Ducks' greatest weapon

Something pops up over and over with the 2021 team, and it could prove to be a difference-maker:

A very high standard of work.

The video clip is Oregon nickleback Jamal Hill in his summer workouts with Grind Sports Training. Last year, you'll remember Hill capped off an impressive sophomore season with two interceptions in the PAC-12 Championship Game.

Hill earned the Defensive MVP award for his efforts. In all over the 7-game campaign the sophomore had 20 tackles and four pass breakups in his first season as a starter. 

The standard of work at Oregon is very consistent across position groups and classes. It's an attitude of excellence and maximizing your potential, an exceptionally driven group.

Players like these push each other in practice.

 At PAC-12 Media Day head coach Mario Cristobal said in his opening remarks:

Well, I think the most important thing in the off-season is to find out what your team is all about in the form of presenting them with challenges, with adversity, finding ways to groom leadership. After being apart from each other for an entire season, the brotherhood of our football team, the chemistry, the dynamic that has made us strong over the years has been investing time in each other, spending time with each other, investing time with each other, getting to know each other, working hard, then gaining respect for each other as people, as competitors and teammates has gone a long way.

We feel there's a very strong sense of urgency, detail and intensity in our players. They're ready to compete. They're ready for a very competitive, physical and intense camp.

It's beginning to feel like this is a team that will just bust out of the gate with enormous energy and a championship mindset. The internal leadership in the group is extraordinary.

Kayvon Thibodeaux just might accomplish everything on his list

Thibodeaux came to Oregon with a mature attitude and a vision for himself, and he hasn't wavered in training and developing his gifts.

His stats from a truncated 2020 campaign don't show what a dominant player he's become: he's being held and/or double-teamed nearly on every play.

At the PAC-12 Championship Game last December he put the USC tackles on roller skates, and one of them was drafted in the first round this April.

 At PAC-12 Media Days it was immediately apparent how much work he's put into his body, while simultaneously growing in mind and purpose.

 Seeing how all this translates onto to the field in 2021 is one of the most fascinating stories in what should be a fascinating year.