Oregon/UCLA Breakdown

UCLA-13, #2 Oregon-60

Well, let’s not mince words: Oregon’s offense is unreal. I mean, if you’re looking for an offense that is just plain fun to watch (so long as you’re not on the opposing team) then look no further. Right now the 2 of you who willingly slog through my novel-sized Saturdays in Review are saying, “Bones, last week you whined and complained like a pathetic little schoolgirl about the Auburn/Arkansas score because you claim to like ‘defensive football.’ Now you’re telling me that this fifty some-odd point per game offense is ‘fun to watch.’ You’re a hypocrite who uses too many run-on sentences and/or sentence fragments depending on the week!”

Allow me to address these complaints: First off, hi, Mom. Sorry about all of the misplaced commas.

Secondly, I did not say that I don’t appreciate a good offense. I just hate watching bad defense. 65-43 is not good offense. It’s really just awful defense on both sides’ part. Oregon’s offense takes good defenses and shreds them. UCLA didn’t look bad on defense. Their players were doing everything they needed to, tackling and going to the football with speed and aggressiveness. They were actually tackling for the most part (no team does 100% of the time). The Ducks were just finding holes in the UCLA line, and the game was out of hand by the end of the first half.

I know I’m gonna sound like Lee Corso here as I point out the stupidly obvious, but every defense has holes. It is a physical impossibility for a defense to cover all 53.3 yards of the field’s width AND however many yards of the field’s length lay between the line of scrimmage and the goal line. The best defenses cover their general area, and they slow down or stop offenses by knocking down passes and tackling running backs as quickly as they possibly can. Unless a defense is playing a team that is utterly inferior to them, they won’t hold their opponents to 0 yards or less. It happens, but it’s rare. So rare, in fact, that even slaughter games usually feature at least some offense of some sort from the team on the losing end. The Alabama Crimson Tide, for example, have a top-10 defense in terms of points and yards allowed. Yet even lowly Duke scored 13 on the Tide starters in a 62-13 snore fest.

To put it another way, defenses are the equivalent of playing with the black pieces in chess. For you non-chess players out there, black goes second. The black pieces are forced to be reactionary until white makes a mistake and black is able to take the initiative. Defense is, by its very nature, reactionary. The offense determines the style of the game; a triple option offense forces the opposing defense to play differently than they would against a spread. A 4-3 defense does not make a triple option team begin passing the football. Furthermore, a quick offensive change will normally net points or yards and force a defense to make changes, whereas a quick defensive change might net points, but will usually just create a stop or cause a turnover. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, which means that the average fan who just looks at scores for teams that he doesn’t root for will not really notice it. Even the most mediocre offenses will score (Last place San Jose State scores about 9 points per game), and even the best defenses will allow points (Sheer coincidence: 1st place TCU allows about 9 points per game).

Somewhere in there, there’s a point. And that point is that an offense like Oregon’s is not remarkable because they score, but because of how much they score. (Duh.) They find holes like no offense I’ve seen, and in doing so they make the defenses they face look silly. Oregon’s backups scored a touchdown in 4 plays on UCLA’s starters in the 4th quarter. The Ducks didn’t punt until 6:31 in the 4th. Most terrifying of all, the Ducks’ defense is good, too. They’re not big, but they’re quick. Oregon is the front runner in a good Pac-10, but the road is not without pitfalls. Next Saturday’s trip to Southern Cal, a game against a good Arizona squad, and the rivalry game with Oregon State are all big games for the Ducks, but there’s a very real chance that Autzen’s favorite team could play in the National Title game. There’s also a chance they wind up in the Holiday Bowl if they lose all 3 of those games, so I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Some random notes from the game: Oregon’s uniforms are still ugly…UCLA did do one thing offensively: they finally scored on Oregon in the 4th quarter. Mind you, that was against the Ducks’ backups, but life’s little victories are what keeps us all going…Does it seem cruel to anyone else to make the Duck mascot do pushups for every point?…Why do commentators insist on reminding us that Southern Cal has “found their rhythm?” What sense does that make? Yeah, they’ve lost 2 of their last 3, but they beat a .500 team in Cal! Southern California: football powerhouse. Give me a break!…And that’s it for now. Sorry to any UCLA fans who are offended by their team’s 4 mentions in this 900 word article, but if your team had shown up I wouldn’t have had to write all about Oregon. Here’s looking forward to Saturday!