Monday, October 2, 2017

October 02, 2017
Official Importance

This past weekend, Oregon hosted its first official visitor of the year. Plenty of recruits have made their way to Oregon games this season, but did so on their own dime.

The first official, though, was figuratively and literally a big visitor.

Penei Sewell, a 6-5, 340-pound offensive lineman from St. George, Utah, made the trip with his family over the weekend. I am not going to give all of the 'premium' goodies on the visit here, but suffice it to say, the family absolutely loved the trip.

What's important here is the impact of the new NCAA rule which allows the schools to pay for family members to make the trip. For schools not located near large talent pools, and players not located near many major universities, this is something that should have been done at least a decade ago.

It cannot be stressed enough just how critical it is to have family along on a visit. First, it would possibly have averted situations like Lynell Hamilton's visit many years ago. Second, it really helps a family feel more secure about the decision their son wants to make when choosing a college.

I will have some premium thoughts on how the visit went for the Wednesday War Room.

Looking Forward, not backward

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Willie Taggart should have had any running plays in the playbook for Justin Herbert. The argument being made by columnists like John Canzano and Dwight Jaynes is some semblance of the same story: when you have no real backup to your All-American candidate QB, you protect him.

That sounds really good on paper. It even has many fans convinced. There is, however, a relevant counterpoint to this theory.

Football is a physical sport; some of the counterpoints like to focus this as the main rebuttal. The physicality of the sport is not, however, the true rebuttal; it is merely a precursor to the rebuttal. None of the major columnists arguing that Taggart should have been more conservative have played football at the collegiate level; nor have they coached at that level. Being a critic requires some criticism.

The physicality of football means that players have to go out with an edge in their mind and body. Players at that level are told to play 'through the echo of the whistle' and to play every play as if it is their last play. The moment you try to limit what a team does by 'protecting' a player, you send the exact wrong message to the team. If the coach is timid or overly cautious, what do you expect the response of the team to be?

Football teams have a playbook. In the first quarter of the game, if you abandon the playbook because 'the QB might get hurt' you will lose the team. Injuries happen. Adversity is something which we must all overcome in some form or another. If Taggart had waited until he had enough capable backups to run his system, he might have never actually run his intended playbook. This is not a game for the weak of mind, or the weak of heart. You play your game plan.

What I find ironic is the criticism the previous weeks was that Taggart was 'too cautious in his play-calling.' As soon as something went wrong with a less than cautious play-call, the critics turned it all around.

Monday Evening perspective

As Duck fans woke up Sunday, there was plenty of hand-wringing, worry, speculation and even some doses of football depression. A once promising season looked on the brink of disaster.

They simmered for the day and went to bed. And then perspective set in. As we woke up this morning to learn of the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas - a place I once called home - all those worries about Herbert and Royce Freeman seemed extremely inconsequential.

Men, women and children went to a country music concert expecting to be entertained. Maybe there were some drinks flowing (it is Vegas after all) and I know there was plenty of singing, laughing and even dancing.

But as we woke to the news, it really changed what Saturday night meant. I love football, especially college football. But it is entertainment; a diversion from all of those things that keep us divided. We come together on Saturday's as one. The people we sit next to don't ask us about our politics, or our religion. They don't ask us who we voted for. They simply high-five us after great plays and commiserate after bad plays.

It's a game.

Football was definitely in perspective today as the news unfolded. Sometimes, though, our games are shattered by the lunacy that is humanity.Whatever it is you do to bring peace to your own soul, do so tonight. Hug your significant other; tell someone you love them. Be real. Enjoy the moments for what they are; a precious gift.

Tomorrow I will have thoughts on the WSU game and what to expect/what I would do to attack the Cougars.


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