Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from The Fan!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 

Here is what My Bowl Mania Pick Em looks like. Obviously I have the utmost confidence in Oregon, LSU, and K-State to handle business. I think the SEC will struggle with their two best teams playing each other. I honestly don't care for the Championship game because it feels fake to me. I'll break down the Rose Bowl, Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, Holiday and Outback. You can keep the BCSEC Championship. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oregon vs UCLA

I'm going to break all the Taboo's of sports fans here and go ahead and say Oregon is in the Rosebowl! Yep I said it, Oregon wins big 40 points scored by halftime and cruise to a 56-14 win. All the taboo, all the bad joo joo in the world can't change what's coming today at Autzen stadium. UCLA has zero chance, game over, its a wrap, ball game, and my favorite saying "like a barber shop...NEXT".

This one will be shorter than the last (Over before halftime)...This one will be worse than the last (Ducks by 42)...Unless Hell Freezes over today Oregon will win this game. It will take an excellent game from the Bruins just to keep it close for a half. It will take a perfect game by UCLA and an awful game for the Ducks for it to be a game in the 3rd. It will take the second coming of Cam Newton, Adrian Peterson, and Troy Polamalu showing up in UCLA uniforms just before kickoff for The Bruins to win. Maybe I'm a little overboard and UCLA is athletic, however the Slick Rick's team is well...not very good and not very disciplined. They have shown some signs of life this season however considering their lackluster effort last week in their gruesome stomping by the Trojan's they were either taking the week off or are on life support. I'll go with the latter. If the former is true and UCLA does the unthinkable it would be the best "Rope-A-Dope" since Ali.

UCLA is not very good against the run or the pass and Oregon is good at both. UCLA isn't very spectacular on Offense (56th Total with 6.14 YPP-though it would be the 2nd Highest Offense Alabama would Face), and The Ducks are very good defensively(4.94 YPP), but they've had their moments (USC) too. UCLA is mediocre on Special Teams, and Oregon is Special...You see a pattern. Vegas has Oregon 4th in its Power Rankings and UCLA is...NOT!

On a serious note, UCLA's strategy is to establish the run, and then hit you with the pass. This works fine if the game's close but if they fall behind early it becomes a long day (see last weeks game vs USC). I see this strategy play right into the hands of Oregon. I do expect that UCLA will run a slew of trick plays, misdirection, and basically throw the playbook at Oregon. On the contrary, UCLA's weakness on defense is their ability to stop the run, which is Oregon's strength. I don't see how UCLA will stop Oregon's ability to run and thats why I think this game will get out of hand early. When The Ducks run the ball successfully early in the game there is not a team in America that can beat them.

Anyway, join me next week as we start talking Rose Bowl and breaking down the either Michigan State or Wisconsin...My guess is Wisconsin.

Thanks for Reading.

The Fan

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oregon will Crush OSU!

Let's Face It...Oregon is bigger, faster, stronger, and a much more complete team than the Beavers. Statistically there is no logical way for OSU to win the game but that's why we play them! This game should not be close however I thought Oregon would beat SC last week 38-17 so lets just look at the Keys to the game for The Ducks:

  1. Needs to stay at within-1 on Turnover Margin
  2. Needs to come out Focused and forget last week!
  3. Disrupt OSU timing in the passing  game
  4. Pressure Sean Mannion!
I think the only reason this game could be close is if Oregon repeats its two and a half quarter hangover as it did against SC last week. If OSU wins the turnover battle by two, limits Oregon's explosion plays, and can sustain long grinding drives against the Ducks it could be a good game. With that being said, I don't expect this game to be close and I think its over in the second quarter with Oregon winning big 55-17. 

Thanks for Reading,

The Fan

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Going Mental over USC's upset of Oregon

So how does crow taste...I've had better...I was boasting all over ESPN, Facebook, Blogs, and to whoever would listen about how Oregon would run away with a victory against USC whom I felt was outmatched and would be overwhelmed in the second half. I thought Oregon was a much better team than USC. I thought Oregon's defense would be the difference and it was, sort of... 

Like most Duck fans I sat in silence after the game wondering how we could lose to this team. It was obvious USC came to play and that they believed from the first possession of the game they could beat the Ducks on their own turf. It was obvious that the Trojans were going to leave nothing on the field and this game meant everything to them. Regardless, I still thought with everything on the line, my Ducks would find a way to pull out a "W", they always find a way right...Not this time.

To me it started Saturday night after the Stanford game in an interview I heard of some players talking about a rematch with LSU. Also I remember reading that one local journalist thought Oregon was celebrating the Stanford victory more than most. While not uncommon after a big win, I felt for the first time since Chip Kelly took over as head coach that the Ducks might be thinking past their next opponent. This was really a small passing observation but it prompted me to post on my Facebook that Oregon should not overlook USC.

Throughout the week I read much about how USC had been preparing to beat Oregon since Spring, adding extra conditioning, going smaller at linebacker, and putting more speed on the field. The coaches also spent time game planning each week on how to play against Oregon. There was a sense in the LA Media that this game would really define USC's season. So you see the feeling beginning with one team totally focused on the moment and the other possibly thinking ahead. 

The next event was Iowa State beating OK State on Friday night. I'm sure the Ducks saw this game and realized afterward if they take care of business that they had a realistic shot at playing in the NC. While most people think this would create more focus, I believe in young teams it can be a huge distraction. The reason is thinking of the possibility of the NC puts the focus on the future and not the task at hand.

So now before the game we hear that Snoop Dogg, King James, and a slew of NBA celebs would be attending. Yet another distraction for this young team with so much on the line. 

Now to the game. First possession Oregon completely shuts down USC. Soon there is a turnover and it feels like Oregon is going to start fast. Then an errant simple throw that results in a turnover, first mental mistake of the game. The next mistake happens when a young DB is caught looking in the backfield and gets beat deep. Even though he's in position to make the play he fails to turn around and USC catches it for a huge gain. The next mental mistake is a dropped pass on a 4th and 8 which looks to be set up perfect and might go for 6. Fast forward to the second quarter and you have missed blocking assignments, blown coverages, and then an easy touchdown that is juggled in the endzone by DeAnthony Thomas. Bad throw, bad catch... These are plays that the Ducks O regularly makes. Next play Fumble by LMJ and Oregon goes in down 14 at the half. 

Throughout the game there are several more dropped passes errant throws, blown coverages, and missed tackles. Somehow Oregon wakes up and realizes that they are about to get blown out if they don't start playing and then the FOCUS is there. You see Oregon playing good defense, making throws, catching balls, and then USC gives Oregon a gift of fumbling when it seemed like an automatic 3 points if not a touchdown to seal the victory. 

Oregon, takes the ball and begins driving it downfield. They are in the hurry up but there are a few times when guys are tackled in the middle of the field short of first downs and No Timeouts are called. It begins to seem like Oregon starts playing for overtime instead of the win...I have never known Coach Kelly to not go for the win. He has ultimate trust in his guys and all of the sudden he's playing for overtime. This goes against everything that he's done since he was here. To me this was a coaches mental error. The clock runs down and Oregon is forced to attempt a 42 yard field goal. Then a gift from the Trojans, a 5 yard penalty. Now a 37 yard field goal...Now the last mental error of the night, a fatal wide left field goal that ends the Ducks NC dreams for 2011-2012 season. 

To me there were a ton of mental errors which led me to think that this team for the first time in a few years wasn't mentally prepared. Too many distractions and mental mistakes from the Coaching staff down to the players. I don't blame one player for not making plays, or not being prepared because its everyone's fault. This is a team game, Win as team, lose as a team, prepare as a team, be distracted as a team, they go hand in hand. 

I give credit to the whole team and coaching staff when they win so the same has to happen when they lose. It was a team loss, and a lack of focus by all. I learned that the Ducks are almost talented enough to beat USC with their "C" game, but not quite...USC played their best game in the last 3 years and Oregon almost had enough to win. Oregon truly is that good, but it goes to show no matter how talented you are, you can't win every game unless you are 100% focused. Oregon lost to USC no doubt but they still have a lot to play for. This team will be tested by OSU this week, I just hope they don't let USC beat them twice. We will learn if this team has what it takes to bounce back, if it has grit, and if it can refocus, get back into the now, and Win the Day because today is all we have...

Thanks for reading,

The Fan

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Can USC upset Oregon at Autzen?

The past two seasons the Trojans have been left behind by the Ducks
This years game is shaping up to be a big one and I've heard some grumbles of a possible upset brewing. Obviously Oregon is coming off a huge victory and can't afford to come out flat against a USC team that has nothing else but this game to play for. Yes they do still play UCLA but that is not the same stage as this one. So lets see if an upset is possible or if the Ducks will get the hat trick against the Men of Troy. 

The Perception: USC is considered by many the most athletic defense in the Pac-12 this year and some are even saying they are the best defense that we will face aside from LSU. On the other side of the ball Oregon is considered by many to be the top offense in the country. So this matchup would seem to be a power on power affair right...

The Facts: The Trojans Rank #49 in total Defense and giving up 363.8 YPG. Not bad considering they start three Freshman at linebacker (1 true and 2 redshirt). They are stout against the run holding opponents to a meager 100.4 yards per game on the ground. Also the Trojans are solid against the pass ranking #63 in Pass Efficiency Defense but playing in the pass heavy PAC-12 its understandable. They do give up 263 YPG Passing which ranks them at #100 but that is a skewed number in my mind. Overall they rank #49 in Total Defense which measures Yards Per Game but that really doesn't give you the whole story especially in an offensively heavy conference. 

Quick Analysis: Anyway, USC looks very good defensively on paper and with the eye test. It has taken this unit time to gel but its apparent since the beat down of the Irish that they have made some huge strides. They have speed at linebacker, one of the best safeties in the country in TJ McDonald, and a big athletic defensive line. Overall the Trojans plays fairly disciplined on defense but at times they have a tendency to overrun plays and the young linebackers have had trouble with their run/pass reads. USC has decent corners that can match up against most of the Oregon receiving corp for 60 minutes.

Quick Look at the Offense: USC's offense is lead by a very calm and efficient quarterback named Matt Barkley. He is not nearly as athletic as Andrew Luck but I personally think Barkley is the better pocket passer. Barkley is not very mobile and when flushed out of the pocket is when the defenses odds of successfully defending him get better. He is in his third year so the game is slowing down for him and you can see that especially as of late. It helps that he two tremendously athletic wideouts in Robert Woods and Marquis Lee. They are both 6-1 with longer arms, fast, athletic, have great hands, and will fight for the ball. They are great targets that will both be playing on Sunday's in the next few years. At running back you have Curtis McNeal who is extremely shifty and deceptively fast. He is not as fast or explosive as Oregon's trio but he does have breakaway speed if Oregon is caught out of position and he is a good interior runner that can get some tough yards. SC does a excellent job of protecting Barkley hence ranking #4 in the country in sacks allowed with six all season. Part of this is because USC will go max protect and allow Woods and Lee to get open. 

USC Gameplan: The Trojans will try to control the ball on offense and keep the Ducks offense off the field. They do a good job of mixing run and pass and if they are successful early it can be hard to get them out of their grind you down style. They are athletic enough to beat Oregon on the edges especially if Oregon tries to cover them man up. Defensively they will keep speed on the field to try and match the Ducks offense. Expect them to play man on the outsides and load the box while mixing blitzes to get the Ducks out of rhythm. I expect to see some zone blitzing, lots of stunting, and the linebackers looking to crash hard and fill gaps to stop the run. The Trojans have also been doing extra conditioning and playing more players throughout the year in an attempt to keep pace with Oregon late in the game. 

Smoking Gun: Here are the reasons that USC might not win this week. Defensively while the Trojans rank high in a lot of categories, look closer at the offenses they have faced. Stanford and Arizona dismantled the Trojan defense and Arizona State handled them easily as well. Each of these teams had success running and throwing the ball. While the Trojan defense looks good on paper lets go a little deeper in the stats. They rank #8 in Rushing Defense however they give up 3.51 yards per rushing attempt. That would put them somewhere around 30th. If you take it a step further they have only played one team that ranks in the Top 30 rushing offenses (Stanford #19). The Ducks in contrast yield 3.68 yards per rushing attempt but have played 3 Top 30 Rushing Offenses (Nevada #5, Stanford #19, and LSU #30). On Offense Oregon averages 6.79 Yards Per Attempt which is #1 by far and thats including a game vs the #3 Yards per rush defense in LSU. As far as passing defense goes allowing 6.77 yards per pass attempt and 63.75 completion percentage doesn't bode well considering Oregon is #12 in passing efficiency in the Country. Only Stanford which ranks #5 in Pass Efficiency is better in conference. Some other stats that haven't been talked about is that Oregon while ranked #63 in Total Defense is ranked #18 in yards per play allowed at 4.82. Utah is the only team in conference with a better average at 4.75 and they held the Trojans to 17 offensive points and 24 points for the game. Cal which give up 4.94 yards per game lost to USC 30-9 but if you look close Cal held the Trojans to 313 yards on offense. To USC's credit they did force 3 fumbles and 2 Int's. Here is one of the biggest stats that goes against USC, and that is they are ranked #61 in 3rd Down Defense Yielding 39.86% to their opponents. That is not good considering Oregon is ranked #39 in 3rd Down Conversions at 44.26%. Overall USC is ranked #49 in total defense but gives up 5.39 yards per play which would rank them #57. Oregon has played 3 defenses this year with better averages, LSU, Stanford, and Cal. 

The Verdict: USC though talented has not played a team like Oregon all year. Their defense is fast and good against the run at times and decent against the pass. They have enough playmakers to hang with Oregon but I'm not sure they have enough depth. If they can stay in a rhythm early, cause a few turnovers, and get an early lead they will take the Ducks into the 4th quarter. 

I look for Oregon to get after Barkley early and often on Defense. I fully expect to see Oregon shut down the running game and make Barkley beat them with his arm and feet out of the pocket. On offense look for the Ducks to attack USC's young linebacking corp with screens, misdirection, and the good ol Zone Read. I think they will balance attack in the first half and pound LaMichael James between the tackles in the second half. I think the weather plays a factor slowing both offenses a bit. This will be a good game for about a half and the Trojans could lead early but I think the Ducks defense will be too much for the Trojans and the Offense will turn it up in the 3rd quarter and pull away 38-17.

Thanks for reading!

The Fan

Monday, January 10, 2011

National Championship Prediction,

Auburn has the best players in College Football on Offense and Defense, NFL size & speed all over the place, they have been tested many times in the 4th quarter and have come out on top each time. Auburn has the right pedigree coming from the Iron Man SEC conference that has won the last 4 National titles. Auburn is indeed Goliath and Oregon is David. The match up is of SEC power vs Pac 10 speed. The match up is about which team can come out and play 4 quarters of football. Will Auburn overwhelm the Ducks with their physical play over the course of the game and tire them out??? Will the Ducks run Auburn silly by getting them into space and making them defend the entire field sideline to sideline???

Here's how it goes:

Auburn is going mix runs with Cam Newton and WR Screens to create running lanes for later in the game. They are going to attempt to suck Oregon Safeties into helping with the run and then run play action & go for the home run. Don't be surprised if Auburn scores a few times early and has a two touchdown lead going into halftime. If Auburn decides to run Newton more than usual which I fully expect to happen, look for him to wear down in the seconds half. You will know he's wearing down because he may miss some throws he usually makes and get mentally tired just looking at his first pass option and then tuck and run. I think you will see a lot of Michael Dyer in this game between the tackles attempting to smash Oregon in the mouth. Auburn will show some sets with Dyer & McCalleb in the backfield with some triple option and then pass out of that formation. If they run wide out of that formation look for them to run towards Cliff Harris' side. Gus Malzahn is going to throw the playbook at Oregon but don't expect it all early in the game. Look for Auburn to overload the runs opposite of Kenny Rowe and I expect to see Auburn slowly look to get Eddie Pleasant & Casey Matthews into some one on one match ups against their slot receivers & running backs. In the second half don't be surprised if they throw at Pleasant a bunch. Oregon can combat this by dropping a linebacker to help bracket the slot but that will leave a shortage against the run to the opposite side. This is why Oregon must tackle well tonight. If there is one thing that would guarantee Oregon a loss, it would be poor tackling.

Oregon has made it no secret on bringing pressure to Cam Newton early and often. I think the key is you must confuse Newton pre-snap. Newton is a good passer but he has a habit of throwing to his first or second receiver and if they aren't open he then flees the pocket. I can't stress how important its going to be to for Oregon to contain Newton in the pocket. When they get there they must open their hips, breakdown and make the play. I CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH! He's a fast guy but not super quick when he's starting to run so Oregon MUST get to him before he gets his momentum moving or it will be trouble because I don't think there are many guys in Oregon's secondary that can tackle him one on one. Oregon needs to drop tackles and ends to confuse him and use overload & zone blitzes to force the action. The key however will remain pre-snap and getting Newton to make a few mistakes over the course of the game. You will not stop him every play but its about wearing him down over the course of the game. On offense Oregon will need to keep Auburn at bay with multiple formations and make them guard the entire field. I think Oregon will look to get mismatched defenders into space and make them tackle one on one. Look for Oregon to use some formations they haven't used all season and don't be surprised to see some fly sweep plays to keep Auburns line honest. Oregon will bring the physical play at Auburn and I think they will really focus on frustrating Fairley hoping his hot headed nature will show its true colors. Don't be surprised to see Oregon substitute heavily often on Defense to keep players fresh later in the game.

I think the difference will be Oregon's ability to create big plays on special teams and their opportunistic defense will come up when it needs it the most. Oregon's depth & conditioning will prove to be too much for Auburn in the 4th quarter and the Ducks will Dethrone the mighty Tigers of the SEC with a 47-35 victory. I think this game Auburn will have a chance to win it late but Oregon will force a turnover and cash it in late for a 12 point victory. I think this game will be an all out donnybrook, an instant classic on ESPN!

Thanks for reading,

The Fan

Monday, January 3, 2011

Orange Bowl Prediction

Virginia Tech vs Stanford:

This game pits two of the hottest teams in the country with Virgina Tech on a 10 game win streak after an 0-2 start and Stanford winning 7 in a row since losing at Oregon on October 2nd. These teams both have physical defenses and experienced quarterbacks. Andrew Luck is quite possibly the best pure quarterback in college football and will be tested by solid Virginia Tech defense.  Virginia Tech has a good QB of their own in Tyrod Taylor who's dual threat ability has the potential to give Stanford major problems.

Look For Stanford to:

Establish the running game early using their physical blocking and overload scheme to force Virginia Tech to bring the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to help with the run. If Virginia Tech does go to 7 or 8 in the box then look for Andrew Luck to establish the passing game taking what the defense gives him. Stanford likes to establish the run first then throw short low-risk passes early to get Luck in a rhythm. If Luck has his way early it could be a very long night for The Hokies. The Hokies like to keep the defense in front of them and not give up the big play, this plays perfectly into The Cardinal game plan.

On defense Stanford will attempt to keep Tyrod Taylor contained. He is an average passer in the pocket but if he breaks contain he has speed to run and is a very good out-of-pocket passer. Stanford has struggled against fast offenses this year and Virginia Tech is exactly that. All of the Virginia Tech running backs are fast enough to cause big problems for Stanford if they don't tackle well. Stanford will try to keep Virginia Tech one dimensional by taking away the run and making Taylor beat them throwing from the pocket.

Look for Virginia Tech to:

Use its speedy backfield to expose Stanford's lack of team speed on defense. Virginia Tech will attempt to make Stanford defend the entire field and try to get Tyrod Taylor into space with some run/pass option situations. If Taylor gets to the edge he can be very effective as a runner and passer. All the VaTech running backs are fast enough to give Stanford problems if they miss tackles at the point of attack.

On defense Virginia Tech will try to get after Andrew Luck early. As good as Andrew Luck is he tends to throw into coverage at times when he is pressured. In those moments he depends on his arm too much and Virginia Tech has good enough corners to make him pay. Its imperative that the Hokies stop the run or it will be a long night as Stanford can demoralize its opponents and control the clock when they establish the run.


Both are solid on offense and defense and both have big play ability as well as the ability to grind it out in a close game. This is a game that I think could come down to which team makes the big plays on special teams and doesn't turn the ball over.


Andrew Luck and the Cardinal running game will be too much in the 4th quarter and Stanford will win a hard fought game 35-28.

Thanks for reading,

The Fan