Photo courtesy of David Putzier at Flickr.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oregon Utah Preview

Originally posted at "As Seen by Dave" and added to this blog for your reading enjoyment.

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Here we are, third game of the season, still left with more questions than certainty. Will the line improve? Will Masoli continue to gain consistency? Will the receivers catch the ball before they go for the touchdown? Are we going to need defensive touchdowns to win games? These are all good questions...questions that we may not have had in years past. There is a difference with this year.

In the past, we open against Portland State. We open against Idaho. How ‘bout having Utah State come in to get their whoopin’? Those games are practice. Those games...those games against Houston...they don’t test the team’s mettle. They don’t expose weaknesses. In many ways, they are practice games. Games that allow the team to gel. They are games that don’t stress out the players, but rather, put them in a comfort zone. It’s okay to make mistakes in those games, because those games, despite imperfections, have a predictable outcome.

This year’s team has four of their hardest games right off the bat. Imperfections are going to be exposed in Boise. Imperfections are going to shine a whole lot brighter against Purdue than they do against Montana. You see, this year we didn’t have the luxury of a warm-up. This year we had our face one inch away from a sander, and as you know, we got scratched. We played a good team, in their stadium, and we were beaten. We lost in disgrace. However, we learned that winning isn’t a given.

We came back, a little less green. We came back with something to prove, and as a team, we proved that we can win. We proved that touchdown drives are a part of our offense. No, it wasn’t perfect, and frankly, it wasn’t even pretty. But we won. We won in dramatic fashion. Now we know we can win close games. We won with defensive touchdowns. Now we know that Thurmond III is going to be something special this year. We won with four backs, Masoli included, that were effective moving the ball on the ground. We had lowlights, but we had highlights too.

So what is my prediction? I have two. I predict that Oregon is going to beat Utah, and excuses won’t be necessary. Utah is going to blitz us, and Ed Dickson is going to find himself open more often than not. Some of those blitzes will work, and drives will be stifled. But on some of those blitzes, Masoli will get away. Barner will get away. James will get away. I predict a few extra BIG plays this week. I predict Holland drops a pass, but catches several more. I predict that the defense bends—gives up touchdowns—but scores one as well. I predict Oregon puts 45 on the board, 35 from the offense alone. I predict the defense gives 17. Oregon victory. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better.

My other prediction is that those who are doubting that Oregon will win six games are going to be surprised. You see, by playing these tough games, I think we are on an exponential path of growth. Maybe I’ve blown it. Maybe I’m a total homer, and this is going to be a long season. It could be. We have a lot of questions left to be answered. Let’s get ready for the Utah ride!

If you liked this story as much as I do give Dave a shout out at his blog.


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