Wow, that's a gutsy title for this blog post.
Me, little blogger Brian, is going to explain why the Oregon Ducks, ranked #3 in the country for a frustratingly brief time this 2011 football season, lost ignominiously to the LSU TIgers last Saturday.
(The final score 40-27, doesn't reflect how badly the Ducks were dominated by the Tigers.)
My qualifications for this feat?
I've never played organized football at any level. I watch a lot of college football on TV but haven't gone to a live game for decades. I know next to nothing about the intricacies of play calling, defensive and offensive strategizing, all that X's and O's stuff.
But I know what I feel. And watching the Oregon - LSU game a few days ago left me feeling that the Ducks offense has caught a serious case of uncertainty.
Last season the Ducks were like a hurry-up-offense force of nature. I could feel the power, the confidence, the attitude of you can't stop us. Once the offense got rolling, the speed with which they ran plays obviously disconcerted the opposing defense.
I could tell how quickly the Ducks were playing by how often, and how much, I needed to press the "back six seconds" button on my DirecTV DVR after pressing the "forward 30 seconds" button after a play was called dead in order to avoid announcer blather; usually a college team takes almost exactly 30 seconds to get the next play underway, but with the Ducks I'd usually have to rewind to catch the beginning of the play.
But at the end of last season, especially in the BCS Championship game, and notably last Saturday, quarterback Darron Thomas habitually engaged in start-and-stop behavior that struck me as seriously disruptive to the offensive flow.
Everything would look fine as the Duck offense lined up for a play. I'd think, "Quick, run the play, keep the pressure on." But instead:
Thomas would look toward the sideline. Then quite a few Ducks would get out of their stance and do the same thing. Thomas then would jog up to various players, apparently whispering "this now is the play" words in their ears. Or maybe he was telling them what kind of pizza he planned to eat after the game. I don't know.
This got really old after a while. I didn't keep track of how often the Ducks failed to run their usual speedy offense, but it was a high percentage of the plays. I'd watch the play clock and realize that this supposedly hurry-up offense was taking almost the entire time available to them.
So what's the point of all this (1) get-ready-for-the-play, then (2) get-out-of-the-ready-for-the-play stance, followed by (3) talk-it-over-while-the-LSU-defense-calmly-looks-on?
It made the Duck offense look more than a little ridiculous, especially when after all this hemming and hawing the play would net a whole two yards, or whatever.
Whoopee. (I believe the Ducks had less than 100 yards rushing for the entire game.)
Now, I don't really know what Thomas and the rest of the Duck offense are doing when they stand up, look over toward the sideline, and apparently peer at the strange cards held up to indicate the play.
Back in the old days, I recall, quarterbacks called the play in the huddle, usually on their own. Then the offense would break the huddle, get in their stances, and run the play.
Sweet and simple. Also, clear and confident.
My impression of the Oregon Ducks football team, v. 2011, is that it's become too obsessed with cuteness. Not exactly in an appearance sense, though there's some of that too (the uniforms worn in the LSU game didn't project a sense of macho toughness, but rather isn't this a slimming look?
LSU, like other SEC teams, and like big powerful teams from other conferences that regularly beat up the Ducks in crucial games, simply outmuscled and outplayed Oregon.
Razzle-dazzle, running backward to go forward, carrying the ball in one hand, fancy option fakes/handoffs -- the Ducks were really cute. But especially now that other coaches are deeply familiar with Oregon's offensive style, cuteness isn't going to cut it.
I hope the Ducks offense gets back to its previous version of smash-mouth football. Oregon won't ever look like a southern or mid-west team filled with 300 pound muscled human hunks of corn-fed beef. The Eugene vibe is too organic for that.
But most of the time, at least run your damn plays without looking like you're changing your mind. Less cute and more cutthroat, then maybe you'll go 11-1 this year.