Oregon Ducks: Recruiting Update

This little investment goes a long way in making recruits forget they are leaving Florida and California to come to OREGON.

This little investment goes a long way in making recruits forget they are leaving Florida and California to come to OREGON.

College football on the field is now officially over. However, there is good news: recruiting is heating up.

And we all know how exciting it is when some teenager that we’ve never actually heard of with crazy good high school statistics dons an Oregon cap at a press conference covered by his local news station in his small town high school gymnasium.

Even better news: the Ducks have become a national player in the recruiting game, with more kids from out of state than Oregon (and even California) on their prospect radar.

So far the Ducks have received verbals 14 players ranked in the top 75 at their positions nationally, including nine in the top 25.

With the latest commitment from defensive back Dior Mathis today at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the Ducks are in the midst of their finest recruiting season in a very long time.

Here’s a breakdown on who the Ducks have signed so far, who they are pursuing and which big names left out there they actually have a chance of bringing to little old Eugene.

Offense

Obviously, the two big names are Marcus Lattimore and Lache Seastrunk, the number one and two running back recruits in the country, respectively.

Both have a laundry list of top schools offering their finest coeds and SUVs for their services, but there is thought to be a decent chance that the Ducks land one of them.

For what it’s worth, a site admin on DucksAttack.net received a text message from an Oregon commit that Seastrunk is “all Oregon”.

And with all the Seastrunk and Lattimore talk, I almost forgot to include commit Dontae Williams , a 4* from Texas who could be the thunder to LaMichael James’s lightnight, a la Legerratte Blount.

He’s a 5-11, 210 pound physical specimen who is also a great blocker, catcher and team leader.

Even though Oregon is loaded at quarterback – with Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas, and redshirt freshman Daryle Hawkins – the Ducks added another top prospect, 4* Bryan Bennett, who by the way runs a 4.6 40.

On the line, Chip Kelly added two more top recruits – 4* Nick Rowland and 4* JC transfer Ryan Clanton – to an already deep line that returns EVERY SINGLE player.

Once again, the Ducks are having trouble landing a top wide out. Oregon is in the running for both 4* Ivan McCartney from Florida and 4* Dyjuan Lewis from Indiana, but neither is likely to sign. I guess receivers want to play for a team where throwing the ball to an actual wide receiver is not the fourth option on offense.

There is a glimmer of hope, though. Kyle Prater, a top USC recruit looks like he is backing out of his commitment. Oregon is one of the schools that is flooding his high school recruiting coach with phone calls and text messages.

As far as tight end goes, 2* JC transfer Brandon Williams has given a verbal and there is still an outside shot at 4* Christian Thomas.

It looks like Oregon is stockpiling its strengths, and with no major offensive losses outside of Ed Dickson (I really like David Paulson) this season, the Duck offense should be flying higher than ever.

Defense

Oregon finally displayed a dramatic improvement on the defensive side this past season, and by the looks of it, will only get better in the years to come. Lots of big names have already signed and there are still a few more interested that could really make the defense dominant. And soon.

The Ducks’ biggest area of concern is defensive line, where they lose two starters, Will Tukuafu and Blake Ferras.

4* Dominique Easley’s last second and unexpected change of heart (to Florida) was a big blow, but with 5* Sheldon High School product Curtis White already signed, 4* South Eugene product Gabe King expected and a decent chance at Portland’s 4* Owa Odighizuwa, Oregon could still come out with a solid group of defensive lineman.

White was initially recruited as a tight end, but with the lack of depth along the line might be forced to switch positions.

King and Owa are the keys to this class. If neither signs, it will still be a pretty good, if one signs, very good and if by some stroke of Irish luck both sign, well, I might literally jump for joy.

There have been a few rumors lately flying around that said King has been wearing a lot of Cal stuff, but like I said with Seastrunk, you can only believe so much of what you hear.

With a talented young core of linebackers already on its roster, Oregon didn’t have to focus too much on the position this season, recruiting just one, 3* OLB Isasc Dixon from Miami, FL.

Alright folks, this is where it gets fun.

The Ducks are well on their way to the best defensive back class in the history of the program.

With youngsters Javes Lewis, John Boyett (my budding man crush) and Cliff Harris already assuming starting roles, this unit might end up being the best in the country in a couple of years. And that isn’t even hyperbole.

Dior Mathis obviously is the headliner, because after all, there’s not a whole lot sexier than a 4.28 40. Ok, maybe Amanda Pflugrad, but it’s close!

Along with Mathis, the Ducks have received verbals from Terrance Mitchell, Troy Hill, James Scales and Derrick Malone, all in the upper echelon of the 3* recruits.

There is still a very outside shot at Anthony Jefferson and Erick Dargan, both 4*’s.

Overall, this is a very solid class and will probably finish well with the top 25 nationally (Oregon has only had one top 25 class since 2004). That said, the even more impressive thing is that Kelly and Co. are invading recruiting hotbeds like Florida, Texas, Michigan and Southern California, something extremely important for continued success.

Let’s just say I’m very excited for the next few years.

You can follow Keith on twitter or on his Facebook page.

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Why Oregon Fans and Media Should Take The Blame For The Rose Bowl Loss

duck-707078It’s taken a while for me to write anything this week.

It’s part shock, part anger, and a whole lot of mourning. I needed time to complete the five stages of grief, regroup, collect my thoughts and write something more meaningful than a “Chip Kelly effed up that fourth down call” rant.

This was such a great season and it so see it go down this way was more crushing than watching the season finale of “Friends” in 2004 or seeing someone about to get hit by a car knowing you can do nothing to save them.

After spending the last few days figuring out the good, the bad and the ugly (mostly ugly) that happened on New Year’s Day, I have come up with an explanation for why so many Duck fans had such a rocky start to 2010.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with anything on the field.

Here goes.

Winning is a tradition. And unfortunately, traditions don’t hatch over night.

Oregon fans have only recently gotten a taste of winning. In fact, most lifetime fans have suffered through far more losing seasons that winning years, as evidenced by the number of Rose Bowl appearances (5) and wins (1) in the program’s history.

At this stage, winning is sort of a novelty for Duck fans the media. It’s new, it’s fun, trendy even, but it’s not expected.

Look at Ohio State. Every single year, the Buckeye media and fans come into the season expecting no less than a Rose Bowl win. They demand excellence.

The goal for a program is always to exceed expectations. Setting the bar at making the Rose Bowl is one thing, but for Ohio State, getting there is not enough. They expect to win.

You can call them spoiled, sure, but they put pressure on the team to deliver. And for the most part, they do. No team wants to deal with an unhappy fan base or media telling them what they did wrong, especially one that can fill a 110,000 seat stadium and connect with ears all over the country.

Their coaches, players, fans, writers and recruits all expect to win every play, every game, every season. It’s contagious.

Why do teams fire coaches? Because they lose the trust of the players and in return, they stop expecting to win. Mindset is half the battle.

Ohio State’s tradition of winning is over a century long, with 33 Big Ten and seven national championships to prove it.

In fact, their tradition is so strong that fans started an uproar when Ohio State introduced a slightly modified jersey in 2006.

Oregon on the other hand, is all about the now. The Ducks are cutting edge in just about everything: the newest uniforms, offense, locker rooms, training facilities, the list goes on.

There’s not much history or tradition (aside from The Pick) outside of the past 15 seasons, at least that Oregon fans want to remember.

And like the new uniforms, success isn’t something the fans and media can get tired of like a pair of week-old Nike cleats.

After we (yes, I feel like am a part of Oregon football) lost last Friday, you have no idea how many times I heard “Well, it was just fun being here.”

That attitude, more so than talent, preparation or coaching, is the biggest reason why we still don’t have a Rose Bowl victory since 1917.

Duck fans were more interested in tailgating in sunny, palm tree-speckled Pasadena, basking in the experience and taking pictures of the beautiful, overlooking San Gabriel Mountains, than trying to destroy their vocal cords by the second quarter per usual.

Columnists were busy readying their stories about what a great season it had been and how it be just oh so nice to finish the year off with a win.

Just like most teams who screw up in big games because they change their style of play, we as fans should take the blame for change our style in the Granddaddy of Them All.

“Win the Day,” isn’t that Chip Kelly’s mantra? It felt more like, win the season and whatever happens next happens.

January 1st had to be the quietest (aside from at Stanford) Oregon game that I have ever been to.

But this is ok. I can’t expect us to get it right away. Like Aristotle said, we learn by doing.

Now that we have been on the big stage, the crucial transformation is learning from our mistakes. This experience needs to teach us what to expect and how to act for next year, when we’re right back in the Rose Bowl.

We need to build a winning tradition, one where “just being there” isn’t enough. And this takes time. It needs to be instilled from birth (for fans) and letter of intent (for players), read everyday in the newspaper and seen everyday on tv.

If Oregon wants to take the next step in terms of national prestige, fans and media will have to act like we belong with the traditional powers like Ohio State, Florida and Notre Dame.

The reason these powers have been able to maintain excellence is because the fans, the media, the players and coaches are  very critical of themselves and involved in how to make improvements. And those teams listen.

If Ohio State had lost last week, the media and fans alike would be calling for Jim Tressel’s head. Yeah, he’s done a great job for the program, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you win it all.

The powerhouse programs are victims of their own success, but that is a positive. It shows they care.

As it stands right now, Oregon is just the little engine that could, waiting for its chance to finally join the popular group.

We as fans and the media need to start treating the team like grown men and not just kids who need to hear repeated encouragement.

“Nice try, sport, you’ll get ’em next time” only goes so far.

After a Rose Bowl loss like this one, we can’t pat ourselves on the back and say it was a good try, we need to find the reasons why Oregon lost and improve immediately.

It’s up to us for Oregon to get there. We need to demand excellence, and if they know what’s best for themselves, they’ll listen.

It starts now.

You can follow Keith on twitter or on his Facebook page .

Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the Defensive Lines

How about a bad pun: Sean Canfield looks like he just met a Brandon "Bear" in a secluded forest.

I need to think of a good Brandon Bair "bear" pun. Give me a minute, I'll get one.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the defensive lines. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the offensive line here.

Ohio State fans got passionately heated when the totals from the offensive side of the ball came out to Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.

Really?

Was this a surprise to you?

The Buckeyes averaged almost nine points per game fewer than the Ducks, and that’s without factoring in strength of schedule (Oregon #4, tOSU #59).

USC looked like a tough team at the time, so I’ll give them credit for that one, but Navy, Toledo, and New Mexico State? I’m surprised they couldn’t find a way to squeeze a junior college onto their schedule as well.

And I’m not even counting Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota or Michigan.

So for them to only come out six and a half points behind the Ducks on offense, I think is generous. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t by more.

But be that as it may, tOSU has a chance to gain some ground on the defensive side of the ball, where the numbers say they are much better.

Here is the Buckeyes first chance: the defensive line.

Before the season, defensive line coach Jim Heacock said this year’s group was his best since 2003. No small statement, considering that line had four future NFL players (Will Smith, Simon Fraser, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. For those of you counting at home, that’s a first rounder, two third rounders, and an undrafted free agent).

Not too shabby.

On paper, this year’s defense put up better overall numbers than the 2003 contingent, at least points and yardage-wise, but you have to take that with a grain of salt, as Big Ten offenses were much more prolific back in the day.

Like Heacock said before the season to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he didn’t think this line “would” dominate. He said it “needs to” dominate.

And he’s dead on. If Ohio State has any chance of winning this game, they will need to disrupt the Oregon offense.

But lucky for them, if there’s a team that could do it, it might as well be the Buckeyes.

With eight guys in the defensive line rotation, Ohio State has the depth to keep up their aggressive style of play against the fast-paced Oregon offense for more than just the first half.

As the AP wrote, Thaddeus Gibson and Heyward, the son of the late former NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, have been outstanding as rush ends. Todd Denlinger and Doug Worthington are the starting tackles, with substantial contributions from Nathan Williams, Lawrence Wilson, Dexter Larimore and others.

Asked how good the down linemen have been, safety Kurt Coleman grinned.

“Oh, my goodness. The front four, or front eight—how many ever they rotate in—they’re absolutely unreal,” he said. “It’s made my life back there so much easier.”

Pundits are saying that the only way the Buckeyes can disrupt Jeremiah Masoli and Co. is to bring constant pressure, but that plays right into Oregon’s strength as a spread-option team. The more aggressive tOSU plays, the more opportunities Masoli and Lamichael James have to beat them.

Since the Utah game, LMJ has rushed for less than 100 yards just once (88 in only 13 carries against WSU) and over 150 yards six times.

On the contrary, the Buckeyes haven’t allowed a lone rusher to reach the century mark in a single game this season.

This matchup will go a long way in deciding which teams’ fans leave happy on New Year’s Day.

For as many headlines as the Oregon offense vs. the Ohio State defense has grabbed, I think the real story will be Oregon’s defense against tOSU’s offense.

The Duck defense has actually been a strong point this year, and more importantly, it matches up well with the Buckeye offense.

Oregon has done a great job stopping the run this season, giving up just 3.4 ypc to opponents, despite the Toby Gerhart spectacular, which I have been vehemently trying to forget since November.

The defensive backfield however, has been plagued by injuries to Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper, leaving Talmadge “why do I keep getting these P.I. calls” Jackson as the lone veteran to freshmen Cliff Harris and John Boyett.

Fortunately, 6-7 Brandon Bair has emerged as a clog in the middle, while Kenny Rowe and Will Tukuafu have brought excellent pressure from the outside all season.

If Oregon can stuff eight men in the box and eliminate the run, forcing Terrelle Pryor to play like Vince Young (something I, and Jim Tressel are not sure he can do), Oregon should come out victorious.

On paper, the Buckeyes look golden, but in the national college football landscape, Big Ten paper isn’t worth nearly as much Pac-10 paper.

At least for the moment.

Rating: Ohio State 9, Oregon 7.5.

Totals: Oregon 49, Ohio State 44.

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the Offensive Lines

Analyzing skill positions is easy. Those guys hog the cameras, do flashy celebration dances and attract the affection of all the coeds (and sometimes even faculty) on campus.
Everyone knows about them.
But the guys who go unnoticed, the guys who allow for the skill players to do what they do, those are the guys in the trenches. Those are the guys who win games.
They may not be the sexiest or most attractive, they might even have unsightly facial hair or excessive back hair, you would probably even let own a loud grown if you were forced to sit between them on a cross-country flight, but dammit, they win games.
How often do you hear someone say, “Dad, all I want for Christmas is a game-worn Jordan Holmes jersey.”
Welcome to the life of an offensive lineman.
I don’t like that. No, not because I feel bad for them, but because now I have to do actual research in evaluating which team boasts the better collection of 300+ pound beasts.
And there is nothing lazier than a college student on winter break. Trust me.
But I toughed it out. I’m sure you will thank me later.
Coming into the season, Scout.com ranked both Ohio State and Oregon among the best in the country, with the Buckeyes at 11 and the Ducks at 16, respectively.
Up until last year, tOSU was known for its physical, unimaginative, run the ball down your throat style of play. Just push your guy harder than he pushed you – offensive lineman loved it.
But once Jim Tressel decided to change to the spread-option for Terrelle Pryor, it’s taken a while for everyone to get on the same page.
You can’t expect to completely change your style of play and have it work right away. You have to recruit different players and coaches have to learn what they’re doing. (You’ve almost got it Jimmy, just keep watching the film)
Look at Michigan, they were trying to run the spread with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. At least Ohio State had Pryor.
If you look deeper, the Buckeyes have fallen all the way from second in the Big Ten in yards per game in 2006 all the way to eighth in both 2008 and 2009.
You can’t teach agility to those big, hulking farm boys over night.
Oregon, meanwhile, is all speed, even on the line.
Only one Duck checks in at over 300 pounds, while all five of the Buckeyes tip the scale.
After losing two starters to the draft and two to graduation last season, it took Oregon all three non-conference games for the newbies to get into rhythm.
Jeremiah Masoli was sacked five times in the first three games and just three times since then.
As well as protecting Masoli, the line has opened endless holes for running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation in yards per carry at a tick under seven.
Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes have admirably replaced Max Unger and Fenuki Tupou, while C.E. Kaiser, Mark Asper and freshman Carson York fill out the rest of the line.
If Thran and Co. can give Masoli time in the pocket and open lanes for LMJ, this game is as good as over. If Oregon can make it a shootout, Ohio State doesn’t stand a chance.
Since total offensive production is the easiest way to evaluate the position, I have to give Oregon the edge.
Rating:
Oregon 8, Ohio State 7.
Total: Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.
How could the ladies ever say no to these guys?

How could the ladies ever say no to these guys?

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the offensive lines. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the tight ends here.

Analyzing skill positions is easy. Those guys hog the cameras, do flashy celebration dances and attract the affection of all the coeds (and sometimes even faculty) on campus.

Everyone knows about them.

But the guys who go unnoticed, the guys who allow for the skill players to do what they do, those are the guys in the trenches. Those are the guys who win games.

They may not be the sexiest or most attractive, they might even have unsightly facial hair or excessive back hair, you would probably even let own a loud grown if you were forced to sit between them on a cross-country flight, but dammit, they win games.

How often do you hear someone say, “Dad, all I want for Christmas is a game-worn Jordan Holmes jersey.”

Welcome to the life of an offensive lineman.

I don’t like that. No, not because I feel bad for them, but because now I have to do actual research in evaluating which team boasts the better collection of 300+ pound beasts.

And there is nothing lazier than a college student on winter break. Trust me.

But I toughed it out. I’m sure you will thank me later.

Coming into the season, Scout.com ranked both Ohio State and Oregon among the best in the country, with the Buckeyes at 11 and the Ducks at 16.

Up until last year, tOSU was known for its physical, unimaginative, run the ball down your throat style of play. Just push your guy harder than he pushed you – offensive lineman loved it.

But once Jim Tressel decided to change to the spread-option for Terrelle Pryor, it’s taken a while for everyone to get on the same page.

You can’t expect to completely change your style of play and have it work right away. You have to recruit different players and coaches have to learn what they’re doing. (You’ve almost got it Jimmy, just keep watching the film)

Look at Michigan, they were trying to run the spread with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. At least Ohio State had Pryor.

If you look deeper, the Buckeyes have fallen all the way from second in the Big Ten in yards per game in 2006 all the way to eighth in both 2008 and 2009.

You can’t teach agility to those big, hulking farm boys over night.

Oregon, meanwhile, is all speed, even on the line.

Only one Duck checks in at over 300 pounds, while all five of the Buckeyes tip the scale.

After losing two starters to the draft and two to graduation last season, it took Oregon all three non-conference games for the newbies to get into rhythm.

Jeremiah Masoli was sacked five times in the first three games and just three times since then.

As well as protecting Masoli, the line has opened endless holes for running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation in yards per carry at a tick under seven.

Bo Thran and Jordan Holmes have admirably replaced Max Unger and Fenuki Tupou, while C.E. Kaiser, Mark Asper and freshman Carson York fill out the rest of the line.

If Thran and Co. can give Masoli time in the pocket and open lanes for LMJ, this game is as good as over. Oregon wants to make it a shootout, and if they can, Ohio State doesn’t stand a chance.

Since total offensive production is the easiest way to evaluate the position, I have to give Oregon the edge.

Rating:

Oregon 8, Ohio State 7.

Total: Oregon 41.5, Ohio State 35.

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Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the RBs

This play made me salivate.

This play made me salivate.

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the running backs. If you missed yesterday’s, you can read about the quarterbacks here.

After losing Beanie Wells, a first round pick, last season, there were questions about how effectively the Buckeyes would be able to run the ball. Coach Jim Tressel downplayed it, instead talking up how Terrelle Pryor’s growth over the summer would account for the lack of the workhorse running back they are used to having (Wells, Antonio Pittman and dare I say it, Maurice Clarett).

That didn’t go according to plan, but Ohio State still won the Big Ten (eleven), even though they might as well have been playing against beer-league flag football teams. I mean, their biggest competition was Iowa. If the second best team if your conference can throw five interceptions again Indiana (the Hoosiers!) and still win, yeah, you have a weak conference.

In fact, their leading ball carrier is none other than the quarterback. Not a good sign for a team that is known for grinding it out on the ground. It’s amazing what teams will do to land a top recruit.
Apparently Ohio State was willing to throw their entire offensive strategy out the window. But hey, I guess it was time to change it up. Getting smashed harder than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar in BCS games is only fun for so long.

But in all seriousness, the Buckeyes do have a legitimate threat in the backfield, even though he is third on the team in carries and gets little to no national publicity. For all the press than Pryor and DeVier Posey receive on the offense, junior Brandon Saine goes relatively unnoticed.

In fact, like Bill Livingston said in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the biggest case of tOSU neglect stands 6-2, weighs 217 pounds, ran a faster 100-meter time (10.38 seconds) when he was Ohio’s high school state champion than Ted Ginn Jr., the old Glenville flash, and made second team All-Big Ten, despite having only the third-most carries on his team.

Neither of the Ohio State losses can be blamed on Saine. He received only one carry for two yards against Southern California while sophomore counterpart Daniel Herron ran 18 times for 44 yards, including getting stuffed at the Trojan goal line.

Saine also missed the Purdue game with an injury. But he has gotten healthy and turned on the jets lately, finishing the season strong with four touchdowns in as many games.

It will be intriguing to watch the Duck defense contain the Buckeye backfield, with an uncharacteristically fast offense match up with the speedy Oregon side.

Meanwhile, we all know about LaMichael James. My number one man crush also received Pac-10 freshman of the year and AP Third Team All-American honors.

James more than filled in for LeGarrette Blount; he made fans forget about him. He made me feel like I was playing a video game every time he touched the ball.

Case in point: the UCLA game (fast forward to 55 seconds in).

LMJ’s short stature actually works to his advantage, allowing him to sneak behind the offensive line until he finds the hole and then bursts through it faster than Lance Briggs fled the crime scene after crashing his Lamborghini Murcielago in 2007.

The freshman has the highest yards per carry, at 6.9, than any other running back in a BCS conference.

The re-emergence of Blount only adds to the punch of the Oregon backfield. (See what I did there?)

For the first time all year, Chip Kelly can give LMJ a breather knowing that he won’t have to take a hit in talent at running back. (Oops, I did it again)

The running game has been the strongest point for the Ducks all season long, averaging over 236 yards per game on the ground.

But the Buckeyes are no slouches either, topping 200 a game themselves.

I think it’s safe to say that whoever wins the running game will most likely come out on top.

Rating:

Oregon 10, Buckeyes 8.

Total: Oregon 19, Buckeyes 15.

Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Battle of the QBs

It’s never too early to start talking about the Rose Bowl. And even though we’re still 18 days away from the annual New Years Day tradition, I’m about nine days and eighteen hours behind everyone else.
With so much time to kill before the actual game (insert I want a playoff rant here), I will compare the Ducks and Buckeyes position by position to see who stacks up better on paper – because as we know, whoever is better on paper always wins the game. Uhh, never mind.
Where better to start than the quarterbacks? Let’s get it on.
If I had told you in December of 2007 that Jeremiah Masoli would be better than Terrelle Pryor you probably would have laughed harder than the first time you showed your unsuspecting friend the two girls one cup video.
Prior, the all-everything uber recruit, drew Vince Young comparisons before he even signed a letter of intent. The Army All-American Bowl MVP was ranked No. 1 by every single recruiting service in the world, galaxy and universe.
My roommate even started a Facebook fan page called “Make Terrell Pryor an Oregon Duck” that quickly amassed 2,000 supporters. Of course, on March 19th, the name of the page was quickly changed to “Terrelle Pryor Will Get Owned by the Oregon Ducks”.
Funny how things change in the world of sports.
What about Masoli. Where was Masoli in 2007? He was trying to recover from being expelled from Bay Area football power house Serra High School (in my hometown!) after he, and three other captains, were arrested and charged with robbing a kid at the mall.
Fortunately, Masoli got back on track at Community College of San Francisco, a national junior college power, winning the national championship and player of the year honors as a freshman.
Quietly and with little fan fare, the Ducks landed the three star recruit and listed him fifth on the depth chart going into last season. There was no such Facebook page was made for him.
Four injured quarterbacks later, Masoli was starting and we all know the story from there.
Masoli is what Pryor was supposed to be, a spread-option machine, perfect for Chip Kelly’s wide open system. And well, Pryor is the tenth most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten – slightly behind expectations.
Ok, maybe that’s selling Pryor a bit short.  He still has all the potential in the world, and being thrust into the starting role as a freshman in one the country’s biggest programs, and having coach who has no idea how to run a spread offense is no easy task to deal with.
That said, he still has trouble making the correct reads and knowing when to take off or stay in the pocket. His interceptions are up and his completion percentage is down from last year. Also, Prior has been sacked 18 times for more than 200 yards.
With a month to prepare for Oregon’s speedy, yet undersized defense, Pryor might be at an advantage. The Ducks have never seen such a gifted dual-threat quarterback before, so they might have some trouble stopping him in the open field.
But if the Oregon defense can bring pressure and fluster the sophomore quarterback, there’s a good chance Pryor will start to lose composure, like in the Purdue game where he was visibly upset, even starting arguments with his teammates.
Masoli, on the other hand, has played just about as well as humanly possible since the start of Pac-10 play. Since the Cal game, Masoli holds a 63-percent completion percentage and a 15:3 touchdown to interception ratio, not including his seven rushing touchdowns.
Another plus for Masoli is that he gets up for big games: Both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl and the last few games in the Pac-10.  Masoli truly thrives when the pressure is on (see Masoli’s run late in the fourth quarter against the Beavs in you don’t believe me).
I fully expect Masoli to be the better quarterback on New Years Day.
Rating (I will rate each position on a 1-10 scale and keep a running tally as we go along):
Masoli 9, Pryor 7.
If the only thing that mattered in college football was freaking athletcism, Pryor would be a two-time Heisman winner.

If the only thing that mattered in college football was freakish athleticism, Pryor would be a two-time Heisman winner.

It’s never too early to start talking about the Rose Bowl. And even though we’re still 18 days away from the annual New Years Day tradition, I’m about nine days and eighteen hours behind everyone else.

With so much time to kill before the actual game (insert I want a playoff rant here), I will compare the Ducks and Buckeyes position by position to see who stacks up better on paper – because as we all know, whoever is better on paper always wins the game. Uhh, never mind.

Where better to start than the quarterbacks? Let’s get it on.

If I had told you in December of 2007 that Jeremiah Masoli would be better than Terrelle Pryor you probably would have laughed harder than the first time you showed your unsuspecting friend the two girls one cup video.

Pryor, the all-everything uber recruit, drew Vince Young comparisons before he even signed a letter of intent. The Army All-American Bowl MVP was ranked No. 1 by every single recruiting service in the world, galaxy and universe.

My roommate even started a Facebook fan page called “Make Terrell Pryor an Oregon Duck” that quickly amassed 2,000 supporters. Of course, on March 19th, the name of the page was swiftly changed to “Terrelle Pryor Will Get Owned by the Oregon Ducks”.

Funny how fast things change in the world of sports.

What about Masoli. Where was he in 2007? Masoli was trying to rebound from being expelled from Bay Area football power house Serra High School (in my hometown!) after he, and three other captains, were arrested and charged with robbing a kid at the mall.

Fortunately, Masoli got back on track at Community College of San Francisco, a national junior college power, winning the national championship and player of the year honors as a freshman.

Quietly and with little fan fare, the Ducks landed the three star recruit and listed him fifth on their depth chart going into last season. There was no such Facebook page was made for him.

Four injured quarterbacks later, Masoli was starting and we all know the story from there.

Masoli is what Pryor was supposed to be, a spread-option machine, perfect for Chip Kelly’s wide open system. And well, Pryor is the tenth most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten – slightly behind expectations.

Ok, maybe that’s selling Pryor a bit short.  He still has all the potential in the world, and having been thrust into the starting role as a freshman in one the country’s biggest programs, and having coach who has no idea how to run a spread offense is no easy situation to deal with.

That said, he still has trouble making the correct reads and knowing when to take off or stay in the pocket. His interceptions are up and his completion percentage is down from last year. Also, Prior has been sacked 18 times for more than 200 yards.

With a month to prepare for Oregon’s speedy, yet undersized defense, Pryor might be at an advantage. The Ducks have never seen such a gifted dual-threat quarterback before, so they might have some trouble stopping him in the open field.

But if the Oregon defense can bring pressure and fluster the sophomore quarterback, there’s a good chance Pryor will start to lose his composure, like in the Purdue game where he was visibly upset, even starting arguments with his teammates on the field.

Masoli, on the other hand, has played just about as well as humanly possible since the start of Pac-10 play. Since the Cal game, Masoli holds a 63-percent completion percentage and a 15:3 touchdown to interception ratio, not including his seven rushing touchdowns.

Another plus for Masoli is that he gets up for big games: Both Civil Wars, the Holiday Bowl and the last few games in the Pac-10.  Masoli truly thrives when the pressure is on (see Masoli’s run late in the fourth quarter against the Beavs in you don’t believe me).

I fully expect Masoli to be the better quarterback on New Years Day.

Rating (I will rate each position on a 1-10 scale and keep a running tally as we go along):

Masoli 9, Pryor 7.

Hey Oregon Football Fans: Look What You’ve Missed on the Hardwood

If you go to Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse, football season couldn’t have ended fast enough.
Why bother suffering through the endless Mark Mangino fat jokes when you could support a different sport in which the national media has doled out 62 first place votes?
Kentucky already has accounted for more wins on the hardwood in one month than they did on the football field since last October. I think fans in the Bluegrass State are much happier watching the most exciting player the country, freshman John Wall, instead of freshman quarterback Morgan Newton struggle his way to a 55.4 completion percentage.
And Syracuse, well, they were so desperate for basketball season that they stole Duke’s point guard to be their quarterback.
So if you’re a Duck fan, I hope you relished every second of the football regular season because after the Rose Bowl, it’s a long way back until football season. It hurts to say, but the most exciting sport during the winter in Eugene is football recruiting. But hey, at least we’re doing well at that!
Alright, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Or maybe not.
I had a chance to take in today’s game against the St. Mary’s Gaels and the team is clearly much improved from last year. It won’t take until February to win the first game of conference play. But the same crutches still remain: Turnovers, forced shots, missed free throws and the complete lack of a half court offense.
And what do you know, those exact reasons led to a fourth quarter collapse against a beatable St. Mary’s squad (I think they were the first team in the history of D1 basketball to start five white players, especially one with a 6-1 record).
The Ducks led most of the game, controlling the tempo and letting their superior athleticism bail them out in transition and on the glass. But late in the second half, Oregon started slowing the pace, trying to control the clock. And here’s a shocker – the Gaels started creeping their way back into the game.
In short, Oregon looked more lost running the half court set than when Bambi realized the hunter had made dinner out of his mother.
First of all, earth to Michael Dunigan: A screen doesn’t work just by running to a certain spot on the floor and standing there.  You actually have to make contact with the defender. And secondly, didn’t you learn in elementary school that after you set your “screen” you roll to the basket?  You don’t just lollygag at the top of the key with your hands in your pockets waiting for the play to end so it’s a shorter run back on defense.
I don’t get why Ernie Kent would force his team into an uncomfortable style of play that he KNOWS they aren’t good at, when the only reason they were winning in the first place was because they managed to completely avoid running a half court set the entire game.
Ernie Kent, dance with you brung you.
If you haven’t figured out yet, Oregon basketball is my whipping boy for Duck athletics. I can shamelessly say that I never get tired of Joevan Catron fat jokes or “fire Ernie Kent” talk.
And missing nine free throws in a five point loss isn’t going to slow me down anytime soon.
But let’s take a second to look at the positives.
With Tajuan Porter and Catron (thank God) sitting out, it gave some of the youngsters a chance to get some extra run. E.J. Singler, Malcom Armstead and Jamil Wilson all look like future quality starters.
Singler brought back Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s famous sky hook, unleashing it against taller defenders  successfully at least three times. He also has an eye for the correct passing lanes, dishing out four assists without recording a turnover.
Armstead will make a solid back-up point guard once Porter returns from his ankle woes. The juco transfer is a physical player who likes to take the ball to the rack and gives his all on D, averaging over 2.5 steals per game.
Wilson, when he isn’t tripping over his own feet, shows flashes of absolute brilliance. The freshman out of Wisconsin has a smooth stroke and a constant motor, always following his own shot and finding a man to box out. Then again, there’s the three for thirteen performance against Missouri last weekend.
But the player to watch this season is Teondre Williams. The sophomore looks like a completely different player than last year – and considering he had a 36.1 FG%, that’s a good thing.
He can shoot, drive, dish, defend, and deliver some rim-shaking dunks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the Pac-10 second team.
Don’t get too excited yet, Duck fans, this team still has a long way to go before reaching even half of its potential. Until they understand the basics, Oregon will be in for a season filled with highs and (even more) lows.
Hopefully, Ernie Kent will soon check his ego at the door and give Mike Dunlap a chance to teach something Kent can’t: The fundamentals.
There aren't any other good basketball pictures, but you'll probably enjoy this more anyway. ESPN ranked them the most distracting cheerleaders in college basketball. Smart choice.

There aren't any other good basketball pictures, but you'll probably enjoy this more anyway. ESPN ranked them the most distracting cheerleaders in college basketball. Smart choice.

If you go to Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse, football season couldn’t have ended fast enough.

Why bother suffering through the endless Mark Mangino fat jokes when you could support a different sport in which the national media has doled out 62 first place votes?

Kentucky already has accounted for more wins on the hardwood in one month than they did on the football field since last October. I think fans in the Bluegrass State are much happier watching the most exciting player the country, freshman John Wall, instead of freshman quarterback Morgan Newton struggle his way to a 55.4 completion percentage.

And Syracuse, well, they were so desperate for basketball season that they stole Duke’s point guard to be their quarterback.

So if you’re a Duck fan, I hope you relished every second of the football regular season because after the Rose Bowl, it’s a long way back until football season. It hurts to say, but the most exciting sport during the winter in Eugene is football recruiting. But hey, at least we’re doing well at that!

Alright, maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Or maybe not.

I had a chance to take in today’s game against the St. Mary’s Gaels and the team is clearly much improved from last year. It won’t take until February to win the first game of conference play. But the same crutches still remain: Turnovers, forced shots, missed free throws and the complete lack of a half court offense.

And what do you know, those exact reasons led to a fourth quarter collapse against a beatable St. Mary’s squad (I think they were the first team in the history of D1 basketball to start five white players, especially one with a 6-1 record).

The Ducks led most of the game, controlling the tempo and letting their superior athleticism bail them out in transition and on the glass. But late in the second half, Oregon started slowing the pace, trying to control the clock. And here’s a shocker – the Gaels started creeping their way back into the game.

In short, Oregon looked more lost running the half court set than when Bambi realized the hunter had made dinner out of his mother.

First of all, earth to Michael Dunigan: A screen doesn’t work just by running to a certain spot on the floor and standing there.  You actually have to make contact with the defender. And secondly, didn’t you learn in elementary school that after you set your “screen” you roll to the basket?  You don’t just lollygag at the top of the key with your hands in your pockets waiting for the play to end so it’s a shorter run back on defense.

I don’t get why Ernie Kent would force his team into an uncomfortable style of play that he KNOWS they aren’t good at, when the only reason they were winning in the first place was because they managed to completely avoid running a half court set the entire game.

Ernie Kent, dance with you brung you.

If you haven’t figured out yet, Oregon basketball is my whipping boy for Duck athletics. I can shamelessly say that I never get tired of Joevan Catron fat jokes or “fire Ernie Kent” talk.

And missing nine free throws in a five point loss isn’t going to slow me down anytime soon.

But let’s take a second to look at the positives.

With Tajuan Porter and Catron (thank God) sitting out, it gave some of the youngsters a chance to get some extra run. E.J. Singler, Malcom Armstead and Jamil Wilson all look like future quality starters.

Singler brought back Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s famous sky hook, unleashing it against taller defenders  successfully at least three times. He also has an eye for the correct passing lanes, dishing out four assists without recording a turnover.

Armstead will make a solid back-up point guard once Porter returns from his ankle woes. The juco transfer is a physical player who likes to take the ball to the rack and gives his all on D, averaging over 2.5 steals per game.

Wilson, when he isn’t tripping over his own feet, shows flashes of absolute brilliance. The freshman out of Wisconsin has a smooth stroke and a constant motor, always following his own shot and finding a man to box out. Then again, there’s the three for thirteen performance against Missouri last weekend.

But the player to watch this season is Teondre Williams. The sophomore looks like a completely different player than last year – and considering he had a 36.1 FG%, that’s a good thing.

He can shoot, drive, dish, defend, and deliver some rim-shaking dunks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the Pac-10 second team.

Don’t get too excited yet, Duck fans, this team still has a long way to go before reaching even half of its potential. Until they understand the basics, Oregon will be in for a season filled with highs and (even more) lows.

Hopefully, Ernie Kent will soon check his ego at the door and give Mike Dunlap a chance to teach something Kent can’t: The fundamentals.

The Green Man: An Integrated Sports Marketing Ambush Strategy

green man

How could you not like this guy?

It’s no secret that people are attracted to celebrity. That’s why brands and mega-corporations hire athletes, actors and hot women to promote their products: people often blindly emulate and imitate the stars they idolize.

Michael Jordan built Nike, George Foreman became known more his grills than his boxing career, and Peyton Manning, well, he’ll endorse just about anything.

Celebrity endorsements can work on a national scale if the celebrity’s star power is strong enough, but in some cases, it can be more efficient to target local icons where the entire community will get behind just about everything they say.

Case in point: The Oregon Green Man.

Football is just about as big at the University of Oregon as Tiger Woods is nationwide, so if a company can hire a passionate, loveable fan that epitomizes Oregon Football – for a fraction of the price – there’s a good chance that the company will get a good return on its investment.

Lundquist College of Business seniors, Steven Strand and Daniel Cogan, were hired by New York-based marketing agency Mr. Youth to be Hewett Packard brand ambassadors on the Oregon campus.

Seeing that HP doesn’t have a sponsorship agreement with the University of Oregon athletic department, the students were struggling to find a way to align themselves with the university.

As students of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, they saw the opportunity to leverage their role as HP Ambassadors and align their marketing efforts with one of the universities premier sports properties in such a way that required no official purchase of marketing rights.

By recognizing and leveraging a local student icon, they were able to promote, advertise, and execute a successful ambush campaign.

DuckVision, ESPN cameras and Facebook users all love the Green Man – and they should. If he’s crazy enough to wear nothing but a paper-thin nylon suit to 20 degree football games, the man deserves some attention.

And boy, has he gotten plenty of it.

With over 3,000 dedicated fans on Facebook – mostly students – the Green Man can easily communicate with the desired target audience. As a key element of promoting an HP-sponsored tailgate before the Arizona State game, they required the Green Man to post several times in his status updates that he would be hanging out at the tailgate.

Word quickly spread and the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student-run newspaper, published a release about the endorsement agreement: “The HP tailgate event has also partnered with Green Man, an enthusiastic University football fan, to attend the event, take photos and greet fans”.

Steve and Daniel estimate that over 300 people stopped by to enjoy the free hot dogs provided by HP and to check out the dm3 computer they had set up.

Along with the tailgate, the Green Man wore cleverly placed HP stickers on his suit during the game, finding his way numerous times onto DuckVision and ESPN to boot.

“”HP’s Brand Ambassadors, Dan and Steve, came to us with the suggestion to incorporate the Green Man into an HP sponsored tailgate that the team was hosting to promote the new HP Pavilion dm3 notebook,” said Mr. Youth representative Ashley Tyson.

“We were excited to see the Green Man supporting the HP brand. HP is deeply invested in student life at the University of Oregon and we will look to continue that in future semesters.”

Without a doubt, the partnership has been a resounding success. With low input costs and lots of exposure, the brand ambassadors found a great strategy for influencing brand preference at a critical age for potential lifelong HP customers.

Are You Smarter Than the UO Sports Dude?

Well, maybe you are in calculus, quantum physics or organic chemistry, but probably not in picking college football games.

Welcome to the first annual UOSportsDude.com College Bowl Pick’em contest.

I have teamed up with FantasyDaddy.com, 619Sports.net and NFLshouts.com to put on the biggest tournament that is hosted by a University of Oregon student, a fantasy football website, a San Diego sports website and a Twitter-like website that covers the NFL. Beat that ESPN!

619-sports-logo 1nfl shouts uosportsdude

Although I cannot officially announce the prize just yet, it will be good. Think free product from a company that sponsors Oregon football and many high profile professional athletes such as Ryan Braun. If you guess the prize you will earn a high-five and/or free product.

Also, the winner will get free merchandise from the FantasyDaddy.com store, most likely featuring the above beautiful winged logo on it. Duck fans can relate.

This is how you can sign up:

The setup on Yahoo has a confidence scale included.  On ESPN it’s straight up.
Here is what you need to do to enter.
For Yahoo:
1. Log onto the College Bowl Pick’em (click here)
2.  Join the group (www.FantasyDaddy.com, group ID – 7803)
(This is a public group)
For ESPN.com
1.  Create an entry on College Bowl Mania (click here)
2.  Join the group (www.FantasyDaddy.com)
That’s it!  Make sure to pass the word around, we want to make sure we have all the “so called” experts (that means you!) in this contest.

You will be able to make your picks once the oh-so-exciting Army-Navy game is over on December 12th, because you can’t have the college bowl season without the EagleBank Bowl. That’s like having Spaghetti without meatballs or lamb without tuna fish. It just shouldn’t happen!

Why we can’t just make our picks and come back for this one, I still don’t know.

UPDATE: They must have read this because all of the set games are available to be picked as of this moment!

Happy picking!

Finals Procrastination: Open Thread

procrastinate cartoonIt’s finals week. You have two essays to write, three exams to study for, and a final project where one member of your group keeps showing up to meetings drunk (that really happened).

And it all needs to be done by Wednesday.

You’re overwhelmed. You don’t want to study. I understand.

You might have even made it to the library, have your books and notes on the table in front of you, but you just can’t stop checking your @mentions on twitter, your Facebook fan page and googling your own name. Wait, that’s just me?

I have been in the library for eight of my last twenty-four hours and this post is all I have to show for it. FAIL.

Whatever the case, if you’re like me and you’re looking for any excuse to take a break from the books, or just prolong you from starting in the first place, this is your lucky day.

I have scourged the depths of the internet to find the most entertaining, time-wasting, anti-productive, raise-your-chances-of-failing, parent-infuriating, anything-is-better-than-studying-for-anthropology-videos on YouTube.

Here is the best of what I could come up with. Please feel free to add your links or just vent about finals in the comments.

Happy procrastinating!

Stay with this one till the end, it’s worth it.

That’s enough to get you started. Maybe I’ll add more later. Enjoy!