Fast. Fast. Fast.
Everytime someone talks about Oregon, they cop out on real analysis and focus on their speed… as they have since 2006. As they have since Prefontaine. As they have since Nike invented the ‘Swoosh’ on their Eugene campus.
But, do too many make the mistake of believing speed is invincible? That it can’t be beaten? That speed is somehow a replacement for everything else on the football field?
“The difference is simple: Oregon has always been fast, but this year, Oregon is absurdly fast,” wrote Grantland’s Michael Weinreb on September 7. “Their quarterback, a Hawaiian kid named Marcus Mariota who was marooned at the bottom of the depth chart last season, is speedy and elusive and the best passer the Ducks have unearthed in quite some time; their tailback, Kenjon Barner, is electric; and their scatback, 5-foot-9 sophomore De’Anthony Thomas, is such a blur that every time he breaks loose in the open field, I worry someone is actually going to die. I think Thomas might win the Heisman Trophy, if Rich Rodriguez doesn’t find a way to lower an Acme-brand anvil onto his skull.”
If you need a Kleenex to clean-up, Michael, there’s a box next to the toilet.
But, he’s right. Of course. Oregon is fast. Speed kills, so they say in CSI: Miami. But, speed is not unbeatable. It’s not the only thing. It works very well, until you crash.
The scary thing about speed is that it can be as unproductive as it is profitable. Once the wheels start wobbling, the whole car’s in trouble. Every error, or every tough defence, is a banana peel that disrupts the system, and Oregon’s nearly visible attack has yet to win a national championship in this era of speed, speed, speed that everyone gushes about.
In 2011, they lost to Auburn in the BCS Championship, even though it was by the thinnest or hairs. Last year, they hit a tough LSU team in Game 1 and then lost to USC later on, once they had fought their way back into contention.
This year, Oregon is looking out for everything that any fast object must beware of… a brick wall. An iceberg to their Titanic.
Is Washington that team? Maybe. Maybe not. But, they haven’t been intimidated by the Ducks. Last year, the Huskies trailed only 17-10 at halftime in their November matchup, and kept it close for four quarters.
They’re also coming off a defeat of then-No. 8 Stanford a week and a half ago, which helped the Huskies jump to their current No. 23 national ranking, which they’ll take into Autzen Stadium against the second-ranked Ducks on Saturday.
“This is a different team than we’ve had in the past,” said Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. “I think teams in the past we had guys who had lived through a whole bunch of adversity in the past and all that. We’ve got the majority of this roster is here with the expectation that we are going to win a championship in their time here and that’s what their focus is.”
You notice that part? Championship. In their time here. A national championship for the Huskies, in this current two-year window?
Nobody else will believe them, but they believe in themselves.
And, if they want to come through, you’d have to believe that it all hinges on tonight.