Duck Luck is not an accident
EUGENE - We learned a few things Saturday afternoon in Autzen Stadium, didn't we? Let's recount our lessons:
• For years, my cynical pals have been calling it 'Duck Luck.' You saw it on full display against the Oklahoma Sooners, where all kinds of breaks late in the game seemed to go Oregon's way.
Luck? Well, I guess. But I've been seeing these things ever since Mike Bellotti became head coach, and at a certain point you have to conclude that there's more to it than that.
Luck, as the great baseball guru Branch Rickey used to say, is the residue of design.
• The NCAA's new replay rules pretty much stink. It takes way too long to review a play and an entire stadium knows less about what went on in the game than the people watching the game on TV at home with their feet up on the coffee table.
Not many in Autzen knew that Oregon's onside-kick recovery probably shouldn't have held up under further review. All they got was one quick look at a replay and that was it -because rules mandate it that way.
College games aren't supplied with all the cameras you have at a lot of pro games, so you don't give booth officials enough angles to get a true read on a call. And there needs to be a time limit.
On balance, from what I saw Saturday, I'd say just forget about it. The flow of the game was constantly interrupted for endless replays, and the accuracy didn't really seem to improve.
What's the point?
• Speaking of officials, why are football zebras so timid when it comes to managing coaches' behavior? Bob Stoops struts around the field like he owns it, screaming at his players and the officials - sometimes going 15 to 20 yards onto the playing surface. His brother, Mike, coaching at Arizona, is just as bad.
In any other sport, they kick you out for that kind of stuff.
• Dennis Dixon sticks with it. I'm still not sure he's a big-time quarterback yet, but he certainly shows a ton of poise in the face of mistakes. In one moment he can look as if he's lost - throwing the ball to the wrong team. The next minute, he looks capable of doing anything he wants.
He maintains great presence, though. There never seems to be any panic.
• I think the Ducks need to get flashy running back Jonathan Stewart more carries. I'm just not sure 23 is enough. Big running backs need carries - and the deeper into the game, the more effective they become. Or didn't you notice what happened with Adrian Peterson pounding away at Oregon's defense for 145 yards in the fourth quarter?
And I'd love to see Stewart in an I-formation sometime, set back about nine yards from the line of scrimmage so he can get a running start at a straight gallop up the field.
Out of the spread offense, he seems to spend so much time having to run east-west, rather than north-south, just getting to the corner on the stretch play.