What to say? We did what we were supposed to against WSU. That is truly one of the worst BCS schools I have seen in quite some time, and we ran over them at will. Dominated them on both lines and let JJ and Blount do the damage. Its another one of those games where there’s not much to analyze because of the talent discrepancy between the teams.
I will say that the performance of Jeremiah Masoli is encouraging, and shows that we likely would have been more competitive in the Boise State game had it not been for his injury. I like his mobility and decision making, and he showed off his strong arm, even if he didn’t connect on any of those home run balls. It was his most extensive action, and I liked what I saw. We’ll see how he does against USC, but a good game there could convince me that he should remain the starter even when Roper regains his health. The deep ball and elusiveness are tools that Roper doesn’t have. And, while with the running game we only need the QB to manage the game well most of the time, there will be a game this year where the ground game has trouble. Could very well be this week. So those tools could come in very handy.
I’ve gotten a couple of emails along the lines of “where’s the analysis this year, Dave?” I wish I could answer that myself, but the truth is that I don’t feel as if I have a really good feel for this team yet. I know it sounds funny to say that almost halfway through the season, but think about the facts. UW and WSU were total shit, and we pounded them accordingly. I couldn’t see the Utah State or Boise State games because of the Comcast debacle. Which basically leaves the Purdue game for any truly thought provoking thoughts.
Here’s what I think I know about this team:
We’re very good on both lines. Our defensive line has been dominant. I heard Bellotti say today that we’ve only given up 100 yards a game and 2.7 ypc. Those are great numbers. The Ducks have played a lot of bad teams, but they haven’t given those bad teams a lot of chances because they have made it very difficult on opposing QBs by shutting down the run game early.
Our offensive line has also been dominant, at least most of the time. The one time we saw them struggle was the Purdue game, and that game ended up being more difficult than it should have been. But the rest of the games, they have been very good, which makes the job easy for the two best running backs in the conference (hands down, at this point).
But if these are the sure things, there certainly are questions.
The secondary has been a huge disappointment. While the WSU game was a total ass-kicking, I wonder how Brandon Gibson was just wide open on so many plays. Why did they look so bad on play action against Boise? Where are the turnovers that we saw lst year. These guys are very talented, and I don’t buy that Matthew Harper, as good as he was somehow the glue that held everything together. What’s going to happen against SC and Cal? I want to believe that the Boise game was an anomaly with WT3 out and that, once tested again, we will see what we saw last year. But can I be sure about that?
What about the receivers. Jaison Williams still has the dropsies (though he gets an unjustified amount of shit for it). Ed Dickson has disappeared at times. Who steps up when the running game struggles and we need plays from the receivers. Is it J-Will? Dickson? Terrance Scott (whose been a huge surprise)? Maehl? And what about Pflugrad, Davis, and Holland? They’ve been complete non-factors.
Finally, there’s also the quarterback issue. And I’m just not sure how good we can be until we can keep a quarterback healthy. We’ve got so many guys rotating in and out of there, and a lot of them with different skill sets (Thomas and Masoli are most similar, Harper and Roper bring completely different things). That Bellotti and Kelly keep it together so well with the musical chairs going on at this position is amazing, but it takes its toll. Can we keep this up? And can we get enough at this position to go out and win games against good teams consistently?
I think we’re a good team. But I don’t know that for sure. Fact is, we’ve beaten an average Purdue team, lost to a good but not great BSU team, and destroyed three pieces of dung. But here’s where it gets interesting. There are no more teams on the schedule that are near guaranteed wins. Its just a lot of meat, week after week. SC, UCLA, ASU, Cal, Stanford, Arizona, and OSU. All the toughies on the road. 5-2 would be very successful. 6-1 has us playing for roses. 4-3 is disappointing with the talent on this team. But with all the question marks, I honestly don’t know which of those to expect.
We’ll know a lot more this time next week, but the ante has just been up. For all intents and purposes, the season starts now. Now we’ll see what the 2008 Ducks are really made of.