Tag Archives: Autzen Stadium

The Autzen Romping That Was…

As the old saying goes here in Eugene— It never rains at Autzen Stadium.
And after a day in which it rained through the most of the morning and afternoon, Mother Nature decided to once again make good on her unwritten pact with Puddles the Duck; pushing the sun out to show its face just in time. So that begins a list of predictable things at Autzen Stadium on Saturday.
As for South Dakota—they are who we thought they were.
And, Oregon—essentially the same is true.
That game on Saturday was as sure as sure bets come. One thing that was not expected was for Byron Marshall to go off for 228 yards—138 of which were receiving with two touchdowns.
So much for not having an experienced wide receiver…
Really, Aside from a 62 yard bomb from Marcua Mariota to redshirt sophomore Dwayne Stanford; Oregon’s receivers were relatively inactive as the running backs stole the show at Autzen. But, who are we kidding? We all knew that was the way things would go in front of the 96th straight sellout at Autzen Stadium. Mark another one down in the “predictable” column.
I really thought it would have been nice for the young receivers to get a little more action, and thus by that, more confidence to carry into next week’s showdown with Michigan State. The Spartans will be sure to do a better job of bottling up Oregon’s running attack much better than the Coyotes did. Next week might not be so predictable. In fact there’s probably going to be a fair share of surprises. But one thing is certain heading into game two. Oregon will have to work, and they will have to surprise the Spartans if they want to beat them. With all the different offensive formations and plethora of backfield weapons the Ducks are more than capable of pulling this off. They will just need to execute. To prove my point, look at the zone read option play in the second quarter where Mariota essentially slow danced into the end zone as if South Dakota’s defense was designed for the opponent to score. To detract from it, that won’t happen against the Spartans.
So you see? The Ducks will have to do what they do differently to win. Stick to the formula but switch up the game plan.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu hurt himself. That wasn’t good. He says he’s fine, and we should all hope he is. A less than stellar defense losing its more than stellar star is a recipe for disaster. He seemed to look okay doing agility drills on the sidelines but the Ducks coaching staff told the cornerback they didn’t need him. Saw that one coming. Surprising they let the likes of Mariota and Marshall play as long as they did. Perhaps it was punishment after Marshall decided to get cute and drop the ball on the half yard line. It amazes me still when that happens. Didn’t DeSean Jackson embarrass himself enough for all of us (especially fellow football players) to never do that again? Tisk Tisk Byron. None of that nonsense next week ya’ hear?
I won a bet with my girlfriend on this game, which is always fun of course. I set the over/under at 66 and she said under. You know it’s a sure thing when you don’t expect the opponent to score more than 14 and feel confident with the over in that bet. But, again, we were all oracles with this one now weren’t we? That is exactly why I chose not to go. I saw that game well before it actually happened. As for Michigan State, I’m still looking for tickets.

Photo credit: Daily Emerald

Say Hello to Puddles

The Oregon Duck mascot, formally known as “Puddles”, “The Fighting Duck”, or simply “The Duck” is one of the most well known in all of college football. And, if you’ve ever thought he holds a striking resemblance to one of your favorite Disney characters, that’s because he does. But, we’ll get to that later.
In college football, the mascot is as loved and in some cases even more recognizable than the football programs they represent. Some of the most notable include (Michigan State) Sparty the Spartan, (Miami) Sebastian the Ibis, (Georgia) Hairy Dawg, and (Wisconsin) Bucky Badger. But, here are four reasons why “The Duck” stands alone as the best mascot in college football.
1. He is the descendant of Revolutionary War heroes!
As early as 1890 University of Oregon athletics were known as the Webfoots. The name “Ducks” didn’t come along until the 1920’s. The moniker “Webfoots” refers to fishermen off the coast of Massachusetts who were known to have been American Revolutionary War heroes. Their descendants carried the name to the Willamette Valley sometime in the 19th century, most likely following the wagon trail blazed by Lewis & Clark on their famous expedition of western expansion. Soon after, the state’s flagship university decided the name was fitting to associate with their school. So in review, Revolutionary War heroes + trail blazers = Webfoots/Ducks. Pretty damn cool history.
2. He is Donald Duck, literally.
Around 1940 student cartoon drawings of the Duck began to inevitably take on the likeness of another popular cartoon character, Donald Duck. As of 1947 Walt Disney became aware of the resemblance and through an old friendship between athletic director Leo Harris and a Disney cartoonist Oregon had an “in” to strike a deal and make the resemblance official. However this “official” agreement was not so official after all; as there was no paperwork to back up the relationship, only rumors of a verbal agreement and a handshake. So in 1973 when Disney lawyers disputed the relationship, Oregon produced a photo of Disney himself standing with Harris, both wearing matching jackets adorned by an Oregon Donald logo. This photo was shown as proof that Disney not only personally endorsed the relationship, but it was also his wish for the Ducks to carry on his copyright. Because of that photo, a signed formal agreement was reached between the two parties. Although official association between the Donald trademark and the mascot was removed from the contract in 2010 (allowing the mascot to make more public appearances without fear of copyright infringement e.g., the Capital One National Mascot of the Year competition) it does still apply to the mascot in graphic art.
3. He works harder than you.
Every time the football Ducks score, the mascot Duck must work. Meaning, for every point the Ducks score, the mascot must do a pushup. So, if Oregon scores 42 first half points, the Duck must do seven pushups, then fourteen, then twenty-one, twenty-eight, thirty-five, and finally forty-two for a grand total of 147 pushups. Every fall Autzen is rockin’ as the crowd counts ’em down, or rather screams along, with each rep. Under no circumstances does the Duck ever speak, the names of those who wear his costume are in fact a closely guarded secret of the university. However, his work speaks for itself. Even without words, Puddles never disappoints.
And last but not least…
4. He jumps out of airplanes.

Ducks' Marshall And Tyner Fly Together


Thomas Tyner looks to build on his record setting freshman season and run wild in 2014.
Thomas Tyner looks to build on his record setting freshman season and run wild in 2014.

Here in Eugene, college football can’t begin soon enough.
On my way home from a business trip in Seattle last night I swore I could hear the roar booming from the stands of Autzen Stadium as I drove by.
That’s how close football season is people.
And with the BCS now safely tucked away in the annals of college football history this looks to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. In preparation for perhaps the most highly anticipated season in years I’d like to preview another position of interest as we get set for kickoff on August 30th.
Last week I highlighted Devon Allen as a player to watch in Oregon’s young and unproven group of receivers. This week is a completely a different tale.
Once again, Oregon’s backfield looks to be a major strength. This is a group that could not only be the best in the conference but come December the best in the country. In addition to having the Pac-12’s leading returning rusher from 2013, Byron Marshall, this group is also led by home-state favorite and former 5-star recruit Thomas Tyner as well as California high-school phenom Royce Freeman.
With so much talent at the position it’s difficult to say who will literally carry the load this year.
Rushing for more than 100 yards a total of six times in 2013, Marshall became Oregon’s 20th 1,000 yard rusher and eighth in the past seven years earning honorable mention Pac-12 all conference. That success should merit him a hefty share of carries in 2014. However, I could also see Tyner being the premier back given he does boast the most explosiveness and big play ability of the three and uh, these are the Ducks. At the spring game Tyner seemed to enjoy the most playing time as he led all rushers with 58 yards as well as catching a pair of passes for 26 yards and a score. By the way, he also set a UO record last year with 711 rushing yards as a true freshman.
It really just depends what direction Mark Helfrich chooses for this team. I say share the love.
But, look for Freeman to also play an integral role in what should be per usual a very dynamic offense. As a senior at Imperial High School, Freeman rushed for 2,824 yards (11.0 avg.) and 41 touchdowns. Yeah, that wasn’t a typo, 41 trips to the end zone in one year. I don’t care if it’s high school or not. That’s just straight crazy. And when he lined up against the best of his peers at the U.S Army All-America Bowl in January he went off for three touchdowns in a 28-6 West win. I could easily see him contribute as Marshall did in his freshman year when he ran for 464 yards and 4 touchdowns. Oregon does have a history of giving highly touted true freshman ample opportunity to contribute, just as they did last year with Tyner. But, definitely expect for Marshall and Tyner to be the featured backs.
If you’re offensive coordinator Scott Frost, why just drive your Ferrari when you’ve got a Maserati and a shiny new Stingray parked right next to it? I expect he will. It’s easy to say this offense will go as far as these backs can take them. But, I will say regardless of the inexperience at wide receiver there will be plenty of openings down field for Marcus Mariota to capitalize on as teams will be forced to stack the box or pay the price against the Cerberus that is Marshall, Tyner and Freeman. With that, Mariota’s Heisman trophy chances likely ride on how balanced the rushing attack can be under Frost. He may get the numbers he needs because of the attention they draw or on the flip side they could be so productive that despite Mariota maybe being the best player in the country, he will fall short on the attempts he needs to post monster numbers. Either way, this offense looks to be explosive in his final year.
The question of whether Marshall or Tyner starts has in my opinion been the biggest storyline for the Ducks leading up to their opening game against South Dakota State. And really, I don’t think it will matter.
I’m saying now Marshall will “start” games and set the tone having more of a downhill style than Tyner. But definitely look for them to be used in tandem and to both put up big numbers in 2014. Could they possibly be better than Lamichael James and Kenjon Barner? Who knows for now. But as is the custom in Eugene, we once again see the Duck do about 1,000 pushups a game.
I wonder if he works out with the players?

From Hayward To Autzen: Oregon Trackstar Devon Allen Says Football Still Comes First In TrackTown

Devon Allen looks to translate his success on the track to the gridiron in 2014.
Devon Allen looks to translate his success on the track to the gridiron in 2014.

True to the Oregon way, Devon Allen is fast.
Freaky fast.
I mean record fast.
In mid-June, Allen set a NCAA track and field championships record with a time of 13.16 in the 110 meter hurdles, beating USC senior Aleec Harris by two-hundredths of a second. He is also the first freshman to win a national title in the event since Dedy Cooper did it for San Jose State in 1976. However, despite his promise and already impressive resume in track and field, at a school with a rich history in the sport, in a town that calls itself “TrackTown USA” he maintains that his number one priority is still football.
Out of Phoenix Arizona, the Brophy prep star was a 4-star recruit and 16th ranked wide receiver entering the 2013 season. His first year of action at Oregon was however limited due to his redshirt status and inability to stay healthy.
It is football after all, injuries happen. What really bears mentioning here is his progress throughout the offseason. Not only is he now a track and field national champion but he has also emerged as the most promising prospect at his position. He was named the spring game MVP catching two touchdown passes, including one for 49 yards, and registering 94 total yards in the game. With no returning player registering more than 20 catches last season, the wide receiving corps for the Ducks are unproven to say the least. Given that information and how much the Ducks rely on their skill positions to succeed, this may be Mark Helfrich’s biggest test in 2014. And that is, grooming his receivers to be ready day one for the fastest offense in the land led by perhaps the best quarterback in the country, Marcus Mariota.
In mentioning the receiving corps it is also important to note that Oregon has never really ran an offense that focused on a single go-to receiver, but rather a stable of productive receivers with speed to burn. It is a cornerstone of the Oregon offense, the ability to beat you down field from anywhere at any time. Hopefully, Devon Allen can provide that “go-to” aspect right out of the gate, just as Josh Huff did last season. Considering his age this should come in time, but let’s be real. To expect over 1,000 yards from someone who is essentially a first year player is definitely a tall order. A logical expectation would be to expect a breakout season from Allen somewhere in the area of 700-800 yards with maybe 8 touchdowns? In my mind that seems reasonable and totally realistic considering the tools he has flashed thus far early in his career.
Given all that hangs in the balance this year; title potential, Mariota’s Heisman chances, and possibly Coach Helfrich’s job, I’m sure the Oregon coaching staff will do absolutely everything necessary to ensure their receivers are ready to fulfill their increasing roles. Mariota is extremely accurate, so as long as the coaching staff stresses route running and precision on the receiver’s part they shouldn’t have to work very hard to put up numbers.
As for Allen, if he is as focused as advertised and keeps his legs underneath him for a full season he has the potential to be a human highlight reel.
So now TrackTown has a track star ready to shine in Autzen as well as Hayward. It’s a great story for a title contender and a team that values speed. Now it’s Helfrich’s job to coach him up and hold him accountable on and off the field. Keep him focused, keep him healthy and keep him running all the way to the playoff.
Godspeed Devon Allen.

Predictions Anyone? Oregon Football 2014

The Oregon Ducks will attempt to "Win The Day" a total of 15 times in order to hoist their first crystal ball.
The Oregon Ducks will attempt to “Win The Day” a total of 15 times in order to hoist their first crystal ball.

With the college football season quickly approaching let’s take a look at Oregon’s odds in a stacked Pac-12 field. To start things off, I’ll just come out and say this; the Pac-12 is the best conference in college football. Yes, even better than the SEC. We all know the SEC is very top heavy, but aside from the usual suspects is the conference really that good? Point being, top to bottom the PAC-12 has a higher median of talent therefore providing a tougher road to the newly installed four-team playoff.
In saying all that I’m going try and tackle the task of predicting Oregon’s record by taking a game-by-game look at the schedule. Generally I can’t stand prediction pieces because they are rarely right. However, along with being good for building excitement and anticipation for the coming season, I will admit they are fun. We have a love hate relationship, prediction pieces and I. Despite my negative feelings towards them I always find myself reading them. Always.
So hey, why not? With the season only about a month away let’s start talking wins and losses. I’m ready.
August 30th, South Dakota State: A real nail biter in the making here. I’ll go ahead and say 114-0, Oregon. Okay, yeah I’m kidding… but only kind of. Oregon wins 66-3. W
September 6th, Michigan State: Alright, now this really is a game to watch. I’ve been going back and forth in my head trying to figure out who I really like here and of all the games on the schedule this is the only one I really don’t want to predict. Michigan State is the type of team Oregon hates to see; a physical and stingy defensive team that has the ability to slow Oregon’s horses and control the clock. But, this game is at Autzen so I’ll go ahead and give Oregon a slight edge here. Mariota wins the day. Oregon 34-31. W
September 13th, Wyoming: Lovely schedule filler here and they’re going to need it after they barely escape the Spartans. Oregon 55-10. W
September 20th, @Washington State: Sorry Cougars, not this year. Oregon 38-7. W
September 27th- BYE
October 2nd, Arizona: Rich Rodz’ Wildcats proved last year they are no pushover. But with Oregon seeking revenge and Mariota gunning for his Heisman the Ducks prove to be too much at home on ESPN. Oregon 42-24. W
October 11th, @UCLA: This is where everything in the college football world starts to get a bit topsy-turvy. Most of the garbage games are out of the way and the real teams come to play. I don’t see anyone finishing their schedule unscathed this year, I just don’t. I’ll go out on a limb here and say Oregon gets handed their first loss of the season on this day at the Rose Bowl. A Brett Hundley Heisman just might happen. UCLA 30-24. L
October 18th, Washington: Ahh the archrival comes to town for homecoming. Should be a fun one. Oregon rebounds from their loss to UCLA with a win over the hated Huskies. I’ll be out having a great time after this one because Eugene should be a’rockin. Oregon 45-21. W
October 28th, @California: Oregon makes their first and likely not the last trip to Levi’s Stadium for the year. They beat the Golden Bears in a close game. As much as you think so, you can’t score 50 every game Duck fans! Oregon 32-28. W
November 1st, Stanford: This has become one of the better rivalries in college football over the past few years in my opinion. Believe me, this one’s circled. In front of the home crowd Oregon will finally get the Cardinal monkey of their back and Mariota shows the world why he’s the clear-cut Heisman favorite. Playoff hopes are still alive and very real. Oregon 28-20. W
November 8th, @Utah: Utah is no pushover but Mark Helfrich needs to win every game he’s supposed to this year or else. There are already plenty of grumblings around town he was the wrong replacement for the fiercely loved Chip Kelly. And despite an 11-2 finish, his first year as head coach is widely viewed as a failure. May the football Gods have mercy on his soul and Oregon escape with a W. I think they will here as the Ducks have really hit their stride. Oregon 52-28. W
November 15- BYE
November 22nd, Colorado: If Colorado wins this game all of their players should receive a special prize. Like a treasure chest drawer for good behavior in a classroom, or as my Spanish teacher used to call it “la tienda”. Pick a prize any prize! And it should be more than candy. Oregon wins 38-14. W
November 29th, @Oregon State: The Civil war is always a great time. It’s one of the better in-state rivalries around, really. Maybe one day State will win with some regularity. But, the Ducks have an agenda, and a loss here is certainly not in their plans. It’s always tough in Corvallis but the Ducks prove it to the Beavers again, they’re just better. Oregon 32-21. W
December 5th, Pac-12 Championship at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara CA- Oregon v. UCLA: This is it. I think these will be the two best teams in the conference and they will play like it in this one. The winner gets a playoff bid and Oregon will redeem themselves in one hell of a game. Oregon 45-42. W
So there you have it folks. Oregon finishes 12-1 and will head to the four-team playoff. I think they will be met there by the following three:
Alabama- Duh.
Florida State- Jameis tries to make it back to back, but the Heisman goes to Mariota.
Ohio State- Urban Meyer. The guy’s a winner. That is all.
As for who holds the crystal ball, at this juncture I have no idea. Only time will tell and the season is right around the corner. Knowing how these prediction pieces go I’ll probably find myself looking back at this article in December and laughing my ass off. Because what do I know?! I’m just a writer after all.