It’s that wonderful time of year again! No, not Rocktober – that has, sadly, passed us by. Not T-Give yet, though I’m counting down the days. And it’s not quite time for Cinnamon Nog and ABC Family movies.
So…that can only leave one thing: It’s time to hype the Oregon defense! YAY!!!
It happens this time just about every year. By this time, we’ve heard all about Oregon’s no-huddle offense that dominates the PAC-12 (Wow! 70 points against Colorado? How’d you do it?!). But now the Ducks actually have to start playing the “tougher” part of their schedule, but ESPN has breathlessly detailed every facet of their offense. So what to do now?
Each article/ESPN segment starts the same way: “More and more, coaches in the PAC-12 and across the country are growing more concerned about Oregon…and their defense. That’s right. Their defense.” **pause for gasps**
This year has been more of the same – everyone talks about how the “human element” (which is a nice way of saying clueless coaches and mysterious Harris-ians) would never rank Notre Dame or Kansas State above the mighty Ducks (see what I did there?). Just like every year, this is the best Oregon team ever!
And right on schedule, here comes the talk about the defense. This week ESPN writes “Ducks being fueled by defense” and it’s what has happened every damn year. And the logic is, at times, a reach:
2011: ESPN goes for the shocking shock that “Oregon is better on defense than on offense.”
And that wasn’t the only one: “Not to be defensive about Oregon but…”
2010: Hey, this year don’t be surprised if Oregon has the number defense in the PAC-10!
And don’t question their defense or the beat writer will pull out obscure stats about third down conversion rates.
Hell, even back in 2009, the Oregon defense was “surprisingly stout.”
And those were just the ESPN articles.
And now the hype is growing. Oregon barely stopped a mediocre (yes, mediocre) USC team last night. In fact, you could make the argument that USC stopped itself.
The problem is that this sort of hype actually convinces coaches and voters that the Oregon Ducks could shut down McCarron and Alabama’s scary running game, when they cannot. The only thing they can hope to do is outscore them, which worked out great in the past. Just ask Boise State, Ohio State, LSU, Auburn…hell, Wisconsin almost beat them last year in the Rose Bowl, and they were god-awful.
Look, I hate to defend Notre Dame and I hate to defend the SEC. But come on, Oregon. We’ve seen this before. Oregon plays a finesse game, and whenever they go up against a tough defense (especially one that has had time to game-plan against them), their offensive production shuts down. And then their defense is revealed as suspect. Again. And from the look of things, this year will be no different.
But ESPN and many others are obsessed with offense, even though these offensive powerhouses always (yes, always) struggle in bowl games after a long layoff (again, ask Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Oregon again…). So we’ll get to hear about how dominant that Ducks defense is, and how they’re the only ones who can hang with the Tide. And then the Ducks will get beat, the Tide will roll, and next year this time around we’ll be having the same damn conversation next year about how this year the Ducks defense might surprise you. Again.