Saturday, September 5, 2015
Good Luck Ducks, Week 1: Reset
What happened to summer? We are footballing again now?
I've had about 7 months to get it out of my system, but it still lingers. There's not really any escaping the bitter feeling you get when your team gets bit in the championship game for the second time in recent memory. There are so many teams in college football that these opportunities barely ever happen to you. In the aftermath, I wrote at the time that I probably wouldn't ever truly get over last season's brutal Championship Game defeat. It would make me bitter. It would make me care less. I still think these things are most likely true. I also still wish it was 90 degrees outside every day and I still wish it was baseball season and only baseball season.
I'm still going to watch the Ducks today, and cheer like crazy. Marcus Mariota is gone, taken second in this year's NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He won the Heisman. He's easily the best player I'll see in my lifetime in the green and yellow and whatever the hell they're wearing this week. He did it all. He... almost did it all. Much more so than Darron Thomas, he really did accomplish everything he could hope to accomplish at the college level, and would have been borderline insane (or just hugely allergic to Roger Goodell's Evil NFL Empire) to come back for his fourth playing year, so it makes sense that he's gone. In his place is a guy that just strolled on to campus, practiced for a couple of weeks and was handed the keys to the DeLorean that is the Ducks offense. Vernon Adams will be flying at 88 mph, 1.21 gigawatts, baby.
The weird thing is that Adams played up to and through his senior year at Eastern Washington, earning all kinds of accolades for the past three seasons at the helm of one of the top FCS programs in the nation. Someone got the bright idea of taking advantage of the transfer/graduate program loophole that so far only a select few (usually basketball) scholar-athletes have used to add an additional year of eligibility. Now he's the Ducks starting QB. He won the starting job over experienced understudy Jeff Lockie. He did it in two weeks.
Oh, the Ducks actually play Eastern Washington tonight. That's weird.
It's not like Adams could have stayed at EWU and played this year. I don't know that every player on that team will be lining up with their phasers set to kill while he's on the field because he betrayed their school or whatever. But it has to be weird, and a little personal, doesn't it? Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich begins his third season today and this seems like it's usually when a coach really puts his stamp on a team. It may be a weird one year experiment and it may go horribly wrong at some point, but on paper this is an extremely good (but Mariota-less) FBS football team taking on a very good team at a lower level. It should be comfortable. Oregon should win by several touchdowns.
It's Week 1, however, and we just hit the reset button. Let's see how it plays out.
Last year's opener featured plenty of offense, including this fan shot TD pass to returning top receiver Byron Marshall.
Game time is 5:00 PDT with national coverage on the Pac-12 Network. Go Ducks!