This week the Ducks will be looking to clean a few things up.
Passing accuracy needs some work. So does blocking at the point of attack. Handling kicks on special teams. Defending deep balls in man coverage. Coaches Kelly, Helfrich, Greatwood, Frost, Azzinaro, Neal, Osborn, etc., will be getting after it this week.
However, there's another guy who may be just as vital to Oregon's chances against Stanford. If you don't know who Jim Radcliffe is, you should.
Want to beat a team like Stanford? Your team better be at their very best, and it's Radcliffe's job to make certain that's exactly what happens at Oregon. This week, that's an especially important job.
Playing on the road always presents some challenges. You're hanging out in airports, sleeping in strange beds and probably missing some home cooking. Playing on the road in Tempe, early in the season with temperatures at triple digits and in as physical a game as we've seen in a while - that's the kind of scenario that could run a team down physically for more than just a couple days.
Between the X and O sessions this week, Radcliffe and his staff will be focusing on a few other key ingredients. Hydration, for one, and nutrition. They'll carefully monitor weight loss and gain. They'll work with each player to strike exactly the ideal balance between the right amount of work and, as important, the right amount of rest.
The Ducks cannot afford to be at anything but peak potential come kickoff Saturday. Nor can they afford to suffer a fourth quarter crash.
It's just my opinion, but I believe that Radcliffe, now in his 26th year as strength & conditioning coach at Oregon, is one of the Ducks' greatest advantages over their opponents. Many Ducks fans acknowledge the team's superior condition, and Radcliffe is the guy they can primarily thank for that. We don't see him quoted in the paper often. We won't likely hear him on Dan Patrick's radio show any time soon. That's fine. Radcliffe just gets the job done during every off season, during spring practices, during fall camp and throughout the season.
I have faith that Radcliffe will be winning every day this week as the Ducks prepare to host Stanford. When that fourth quarter starts Saturday evening, fatigue is going to be someone else's problem. Our Ducks will be fine, thanks in large part to the preparation and execution of a great mid-week game plan by Jim Radcliffe.