Well, we are going to leave it to 03rdn9, rich87 and anyone else with thirst for XandOs to break down all the technical angles leading up to Thursday night's game. Suffice to say it looks like we are going to be well versed on Oregon's dynamic and explosive
blur offense and will be in a realistic frame mind heading into Thursday night. Given what transpired through another amazing college football Saturday, it appears Thursday night will be an official coronation for the Oregon Ducks celebrating their first ever number 1 ranking in program's history.
Bruins are of course going through little more than rough patch. Heading into today's practice it is unclear what exactly our QB situation is. Kevin Prince has been mostly ineffective and not 100 percent this season. It is extremely unclear whether Richard Brehaut has an average grasp on our revolver offense (notwithstanding his average performance against Washington State team which has been playing inspired by their standards). Can't really count on Darius Bell. Our WRs look extremely poor coached and underdeveloped. Our OL while giving us some hope, is getting back in line with reality at least in the department of pass protection. The defense except for couple of games hasn't provided much glimmer of hope. The secondary play has been undisciplined and the scheming as discussed ad nauseum has been totally vanilla.
So with that discouraging backdrop if anyone wants to think with their brain he or she should mentally prepare for an ugly Bruin slaughter in Eugene. Yet, there is this one little thing in college football that plays often becomes huge factor in every game. It is the "E" word. We saw yesterday what happens when Texas played with (determined & focused) emotion against a top-5 Nebraska team in front of a sea of red in Lincoln. It was the lack of emotion and fight that resulted in California Golden Bears, looking totally different and flat, after looking fantastic against the Bruins during their first half performance in Berkeley. It was the presence of emotion and urgency that was evident in the Washington Huskies taking it to the Beavers right out of the gates in Seattle.
You will drive yourself if you ever try to view college football world through transitive properties. It is not going to work. What is going to work if you appreciate how much emotion plays a part in college football. This is what makes the game so epic, beautiful and heart-wrenching to watch. It's feeling you got if you saw Urban Meyer and Florida kicker on the sidelines right after the Gators missed a potential game tying kick against Mississippi State Bulldogs, or what USC choke it all away against Kentucky down the stretch despite building up a big lead and being heavy favorites.
The question becomes whether the Bruins can play with any sense of urgency and determined emotion on Thursday night in Eugene. If you live in a world of reality, you'd know better and you'd agree with the analysis doled out by 03rdn9. It is shaping up to be an epic night for the Ducks in what looks like a march through a dream season. The news just got better for them this weekend.
Not only the Ducks are going to finish this weekend as the overall number 1 team in the nation (they are already ranked number in coaches' poll) it looks like their stud sophomore QB is ready to go for UCLA. Per the Oregonian he now appears to be "in perfect health" - "firing passes with accuracy and authority" - after sustaining a shoulder injury against the Cougars:
"I'm ready to go,'' Thomas said after the crisp practice at the Moshofsky Center, pronouncing himself 100 percent.
Ducks coach Chip Kelly wasn't about to put any percentages on it, but he has seen enough to be convinced of Thomas' recovery from a sprained AC joint suffered when he fell on his right throwing shoulder in last week's win at Washington State.
"He's good to go if we played tonight,'' Kelly said.
Even on the deep out patterns, Thomas delivered the ball with some sizzle. Afterward, he planned on going in for ice and treatment, but nothing out of the ordinary.
"It's going to be a little sore, but it's going to be all right,'' Thomas said.
If you want an idea what Thomas can do you should read through this (with more to come).
As for their other injured star - backup tailback/return specialist Kenjon Barner - he is still "day to day":
The status of backup tailback Kenjon Barner, who suffered a concussion in the WSU game, is unclear. He made an appearance at practice Saturday but did not participate.
Barner has been listed as day to day.
"I know he's OK," said tailback LaMichael James, who leads the nation in rushing. "He's being mobile and he's communicating with everybody . Everything's great for Kenjon right now. He's gonna get healthy."
The Ducks over all are in great shape:
Only Barner, offensive lineman Everett Benyard III (ankle) and tight end Clint Sager (head, shoulder) were the only players listed on Oregon's injury report Saturday.
"It's very encouraging," Kelly said of the team's overall health. "The big thing of trying to sustain this thing - because it's a long season - is can you keep your playmakers healthy, and on every position?
"And, knock on wood, we're relatively healthy at this point and time."
I have a feeling Barner will be fine by the time Thursday rolls out. He is not going to miss an opportunity to get it going on national TV playing for the number 1 ranked team in the nation.
So really how can we really have any sense of optimism heading into Thursday night. Even Coach Rick Neuheisel has been on the record saying "hope isn't a very good strategy." If the Bruins were to have any shot on Thursday night, they are going to have to bring it - with determined emotion, courage and focus - in Eugene. The problem for UCLA is their counterparts the Ducks will likely be even more fired up to "prove" themselves worthy of their number 1 ranking at the expense of Bruins on national TV.
This place has never been about moral victory. We are not going to start on Thursday night either. However, we are going to watch very closely how the Bruins come out and deal with adversity starting today and through rest of the week leading up to Thursday night.