He’s back. And this time, he has questions.
Robert Stroup, our East Coast correspondent, a Duck alum who’s currently attending architecture school at Lehigh University, sends along another installment of the Stroupinator file, this time in the form of three questions. They appear below in italics; answers from his extreme elders at the Duck Stops here appear in green.
1. ON WASHINGTON
I’m too young to really know what happened in the 70s or 80s, but over that time (as I’ve gathered from my uncle) Washington was a really, really good team. Do you think their relative lack of success recently is a better indicator for what Washington is as a program? Or do you think they can morph back into a national contender? being from washington, i’ve watched them at times… so personally, i don’t expect consistent greatness from them (and that’s not the duck fan in me talking). and are their fans going through an identity crisis? after the reading the espn blogs, i’m a little concerned for the husky faithful, who seem to harbor unfathomable expectations for a first-year quarterback and a third-year coach. (what i think: I think washington is a good, but not a great program.)
DSH: Know your rivalries. Youth and innocence are no excuse. It’s your birthright and obligation to know the history, and I’m appalled that your uncle hasn’t given you a full and complete introduction to the sordid history of the Oregon-Washington rivalry. This should have begun when you were five. For a crash course in the years of the suffering, go immediately to the excellent website benzduck.com and come back in five hours.
The Huskies are the source of all things evil in the Northwest, like Windows Vista, T-Mobile and dancing on the “O.” They have been bad for so long that younger Duck fans forget how insidious and arrogant they once were, much as they accuse us of being in the current era. Washington is up to 0-7 against Oregon now, the longest one-sided period in series history, but it won’t last forever. The chortling and woofing that will ensue when they finally win again will be unbearable. If in Seattle, goal posts will come down.
Believe it or not, the Huskies once dominated the Ducks, and they weren’t nice about it. They crushed the Ducks 42-14 in 2002 and 42-10 in 2003, with much dancing and woofing. Overall they lead the series 57-40-5, even after seven years of Duck domination. The enmity goes way back. You’d need a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to witness the beginnings, like in 1948 when the Ducks finished in a tie for the old PCC conference championship with California, and Washington convinced Montana to vote in a bloc for Cal, or 1962, when Larry Hill was tackled in the end zone by Washington fans while trying to catch the winning touchdown.
The Dawgs weren’t always as inept and laughable as they came to be in the 0-12 Jake Locker season. They won 15 Pac-8 and Pac-10 championships and 7 Rose Bowls. Under Don James they dominated Northwest football, winning a National Championship in 1991, pieces of national championships in one poll or another (it used to just be a media vote rather than an actual game) in 1960 (with Jim Owens as head coach), 1984 and 1990. Only Huskies would count those, however, as they all came from polls you never heard of.
They used to dominate and humiliate the Ducks, six in a row from 1974-79 and 1981-86, 11 out of 12 from 1949 to 1960. They weren’t ordinary losses. They were beatdowns, pummelings and maulings. 66-0 in 1974. 38-3 in 1986. While they won Rose Bowls and All-America awards we suffered. There were miserable seasons where beating the Beavers was the only pleasure in a season; in 1975 the Ducks lost 5-0 to San Jose State. At home, in Autzen Stadium. A big crowd used to be 30,000, and when they played the Huskies, half of it would be in purple and gold. Until Phil Knight and Rich Brooks ended the misery, it seemed unending and miserable. Yes, it was that redundant.
This is why your uncle still curls his fists when he sees a Husky bumper sticker. This is why he cried along with Jerry Allen at the end of the 2010 Civil War. Be mindful of history, or you are condemned to repeat it.
As to the second part of your question, the Huskies are certain to rise again. They’ve hired a bright, young coach, and seem to have learned their lesson that stability and continuity are essential to success. They’re recruiting better. UW has a much broader base of financial support than Oregon, and the state of Washington produces more D-1 talent than our state does. They have a bigger stadium, capacity 72,500. Oregon is probably safe this year, because the Dawgs are starting a sophomore quarterback with one career start, but sooner or later they’ll rise again. Even downtrodden programs have a year occasionally, and the Huskies will come back. The equalizer could come sooner than Duck fans expect, in the form of key injuries or an NCAA sanction. The Huskies will return, and when they do, the rivalry will heat up again.
Chip Kelly deemphasizes rivalries to a great extent. He wants an equal effort from his players in all games, saying “We have thirteen rivalries.” For the fans, however, particularly in the Internet age with its capacity for flaming and instant wars of retorts and one-upmanship, it will be on from the moment the Fuskies show some signs of life.
2. ON STRENGTH-TRAINING
what does oregon use for strength-training? i’ve watched the youtube clip on radcliffe’s unique theories about developing agility and reactionary athleticism. but is he the guy who trains the big boys too?
DSH: Oregon has an exceptional strength and conditioning program, headed by Jim Radcliffe, who has been in the program 26 years. He’s 53 and could still kick your ass, or Steve Sarkisian’s, not that he would. Seriously, if you ever attend a Duck practice, witness the energy and fitness Radcliffe exudes. He looks like he could run a triathlon, teach four aerobics classes and make love to Cindy Crawford, and still have the energy to kick your ass.
In his training philosophy, the Ducks emphasize “bullets over bowling balls.”
Radcliffe uses a variety of Olympic lifts and fast-paced training to build explosive, football-skill strength rather than mere bulk. Oregon players are trained to be flexible, agile and powerful in movement. In addition, the Oregon practice pace has made the Ducks the best-conditioned team in the country. Have you seen those third and fourth quarter clips where the opponent is gassed and confused, and the Ducks are stepping on the gas? They know what’s coming and can’t stop it.
(what kind of strength does one need for zone-blocking? if the line is going to move to that blocking scheme, what kind of muscles do they need to develop? legs? biceps? triceps?
Glad you asked this question, because it alludes to one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Oregon system. Fans constantly ask, “why don’t we have big, powerful linemen like the SEC?”
The answer is two-fold. First, because 6-8, 320 pounders can’t be found everywhere, although the Ducks are in hot pursuit of one currently in Lakewood, Washington (Lakes High) product Zach Banner. In fact, they’re competing with the Huskies for him, and the outcome of that battle may be a key moment in the future of the Oregon-Washington rivalry.
Secondly, the Oregon zone-blocking system requires linemen to be agile and athletic rather than merely large. They have to be disciplined, play intelligently, work together. They have to be conditioned to keep up with the Oregon tempo. Bulky, bulbous 330-pounders couldn’t line up and run off a ten-play drive in 1:20. The Ducks led the country last season in touchdown drives of three plays or fewer, and in drives of two minutes or fewer. In fact, they averaged less than two minutes on their touchdown drives. The Ducks have the best-conditioned fat guys in America, and Radcliffe’s strength and conditioning program, plus the practice tempo, gets them ready.
Parenthetically, that’s another big reason why Oregon’s talented freshmen linemen will have a tough time getting into the lineup as true freshmen. It takes two years in the program to be fully prepared for the demands of playing the line in Chip Kelly’s offense.
3. ON THE LSU GAME
i just don’t see how oregon beats LSU. there’s a glaring disadvantage on the lines and although i love him, chip kelly has yet to prove my heart right in games with time to prepare. so dale, i’m going to ask the question the national media avoids so frequently…
namely, “how does one beat LSU?” (or “how does one beat an SEC team?”)*
(*for the record, i’ve never seen an ESPN expert analyst ask this question.)
again, thanks for all your hard work. you’re a shining light to duck fans everywhere,
DSH: Please send a hand-written letter explaining the shining light part to Mrs. DSH, who is understandably frustrated at how much time I spend working on this blog.
To beat LSU, there is no magic formula. Ducks need a good start. They need to come in focused, calm, prepared, not so amped they make costly mistakes in the early going. Darron Thomas needs to be in command, making good decisions, delivering his throws accurately, eating the ball when he has to. The line has to make some creases for LaMichael James. The young secondary has to contain LSU’s fast outside receivers.
We’ll have more on LSU as the summer progresses. In the semi-amateur media business you have to slice the bologna thin. But I think the Ducks will beat LSU 42-24. They’ll come out with their most balanced, relentless performance ever in a big game, and lay to rest the myth they can’t compete with the elite defenses and elite lines and teams that have extra time to prepare. (USC and Stanford and plenty of the Ducks’ other victims have elite lines, and three-quarters of the league took a bye week the week before they met the Ducks last season.)