Rose Bowl Retro Diary
I’ve been a die-hard Duck fan since birth. Almost all my first memories involve the Ducks in some way. In other words, my dad successfully brainwashed me from the womb (perhaps too well). I’ve always loved the Rose Bowl more than any other bowl game because I wasn’t able to go in 1995. Following the 1994 season I was too young to realize the awful history of the program and had to wait so long before I could go back in 2009. My worst fears were calmed when Oregon won this last Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl win drought paralleled the Red Sox in a way that shot fear in to me, I could go my life without seeing the Ducks win a Rose Bowl, and the 2004 team caused the greatest concern. This team finally broke through and won the Rose Bowl when they needed it most, and for that, they are one of my all-time favorite Oregon football teams.
Chip Kelly became head coach and we got to the Rose Bowl in his first year. In his second year we made it to the national championship game. In his third year we won the Rose Bowl. The best indicators of a coach’s ceiling are his fourth and fifth years, which means the next two years. Kelly is going to have guys who are fifth-year players and have been in his system from the moment they got on campus. It’s going to be the fastest team the world has ever seen.
This win over Wisconsin was a total team effort and they fulfilled the mantra of Fast, Hard, Finish. LaMichael James, who is going to go pro (the smart move), finally had his big postseason game. After being statistically challenged in his last two bowls (while still having some of the biggest impacts on the game), he totaled 25 carries for 159 yards and a touchdown. De’Anthony Thomas, who is the first player in a long time who could accurately be described as a player with Reggie Bush like potential, had two carries for 155 yards and two touchdowns, one of which set a Rose Bowl record. Darron Thomas, who was plagued the second half of the season by fans asking for a backup quarterback, only threw six incompletions all game and threw for three touchdowns. The biggest factor in the game was the breakout performance by Lavasier Tuinei. All the receivers this season had a case of the dropsies but Tuinei was cured in time for the biggest performance of his career. He not only made 8 catches for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he made the big catches, the turning points in the game.
On defense the Ducks did give up 38 points but held Wisconsin to 4.6 yards per carry and held Wisconsin to only 502 yards, which is totally fine when our offense racks up 621 yards and more importantly 45 points. Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay are a gruesome twosome who should dominate the 2012 season as Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. Boyett balled out of his mind and had many memorable plays. There is no way enough credit can be given to the defense for making stops against an offense that no one gave them a chance of slowing. They made the stops when Oregon needed them most and forced two turnovers that changed and sealed the game.
To commemorate perhaps the most important win in Oregon football history here is a retro diary. Enjoy.
Pre-kickoff: The helmets in person were chromed out more than Gucci Mane’s grill. They look absolutely amazing up close in HD. Wisconsin wins the coin toss and in person I have never heard a louder cheer for a simple winning of the coin toss. Like if everyone in the check out line at a grocery store cheered on as I paid in cash for groceries. Just weird, but I love the enthusiasm.
Holy God are there a lot of Wisconsin fans here. In the middle of an Oregon section I couldn’t tell how much red there was on the “Oregon” side of the stadium. Badgers crushed Oregon in attendance.
14:54: Graphic of Russell Wilson playing baseball in the minors for the Colorado Rockies comes up as well as the information that he used the “Masoli Rule” (that you can transfer to another FBS team without sitting a year if it’s for a graduate program your previous school doesn’t offer). Musberger than says, “What a FINE young man.” We know Brent, everyone’s just fabulous.
14:00: Wisconsin runs three running plays for two first downs. A graphic shows that the lightest lineman is 315 pounds. God help all the buffets in Madison, Wisconsin. Interestingly. Surprisingly, all of the linemen are from the state of Wisconsin.
13:10: Quick cutaway to the coaches box and it is clear that Alliotti only drinks Fiji water, because he is a BOSS.
12:20: 3rd and down and Oregon runs their first psycho front of the day (no one down in a 3 point stance on defense). Wisconsin basically runs a pick play on the linebacker covering Montee Ball who catches a ball on an easy out route for a first down.
11:48: Well the Badgers made that touchdown drive look real easy. Russell Wilson hits Abbrederis deep on a double move off play-action. True freshman corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was in single coverage with no safety over the top and bit hard on an out route by the receiver who then sprints up field to catch a touchdown pass by himself. At this point I’m a little worried because Wisconsin marched easily and single coverage doesn’t appear to work too well with the inexperience at the position.
11:40: Darron Thomas stopped for no gain on a triple option and we have our first reference by Kirk Herbstreit on Wisconsin’ time to prepare.
11:20: Oregon motions De’Anthony Thomas in front preceding a reading of the defensive tackle by Darron who keeps the ball for a three-yard gain.
10:50: Ducks run the same play, but this time it’s a handoff to LaMichael James who looks ten times faster than any badger and gains around 17 yards.
10:40: Play action and Huff gets hit on an out route. He caught it! Again, those helmets look so good.
9:57: On a play action look with De’Anthony going out wide to the flat Thomas hits Tuinei cutting deep across the field. A linebacker rushes Thomas and he throws up the ball of his back foot, backpedaling, and hits Tuinei in stride who downs it at the 1 yard line. This was such a good sign, Thomas throwing passes and completing them even though he blatantly disregards all throwing mechanics, but he doesn’t give an F.
9:41: LaMichael James practically walks it in to the end zone. We’re all tied up at 7.
8:56: 5-yard false start penalty on the Badgers to begin their second drive. Oh crap, ACC refs, we’re screwed.
8:39: Holy hell, Montee Ball gets a 42-yard run on 2nd and long from a draw play. A lot of sloppy tackling. Most impressive, Taylor Hart, the defensive tackle, caught up to him to force him back inside. That’s finishing the play, something characteristic throughout the game of this Oregon squad.
7:14: Russell Wilson scrambles on 3rd and 6 to hit Montee Ball on a huge gain that goes all the way to the Oregon four yard line. It looks like Clay tried to jump the pass and almost got a pick, but due to the jump Ball had tons of room in front of him to make moves.
6:03: Russell Wilson motions the tight ends in to the backfield to complete a full house formation before going play action and leaving tons of room for Wilson to run in to the end zone. What are you gonna do? Wisconsin is obviously run first so you have to respect that, but Wilson has a lot of speed when on the edge.
5:15: After a dropped screen pass on second down and a false start Oregon gets stuck at 3rd and 9. Wisconsin drops seven in to coverage and the result is Thomas has to scramble in the pocket before gaining only one yard. The first punt of the day ends up at the 41 after a good return by Abbrederis.
4:36: The Ducks send a lot of pressure to the side Wilson rolls out to and get a seven-yard sack. The coverage is cut off on television, but there was perfect coverage downfield.
3:22: On 3rd and 22 the Ducks bail out the Badgers with a defensive pass interference. After a sack, an incompletion, and a false start there is a pass interference call that is phantom. The ball was not catchable, hell, the receiver wasn’t even looking for the ball. ACC refs, what can you do?
1:08: Big 3rd down stop for the Ducks. Michael Clay finds the hole on 3rd and 5, sinks his hips, and explodes through Montee Ball. You know an offense is good at running the football when fans cheer after stopping them for a three-yard gain. That was a huge stop by the Ducks with Clay and Boyett being everywhere on the field, making stops all over the place.
:02: Oh my god is De’Anthony Thomas fast! He shot through the hole so fast on a read that he didn’t even get touched. I don’t think a single person touched him, he might as well not even be wearing pads. The run is a Rose Bowl record for longest run in history. (The really drunk guy behind me confirms that De’Anthony Thomas is very good at football)
13:36: On 3rd and 2 when everyone is thinking run, the Badgers run play action and Russell hits the tight end who has a step on the linebacker. Big 3rd down conversion for Wisconsin.
12:30: Here’s where the blitz and aggressiveness hurts Oregon. Oregon runs man-zone combos and that opens the middle crossing routes. Toon turns the reception and starts YACing everywhere. (YAC is yards after catch, but can also be used to describe a player who turns a short catch in to a big gain by YACing all over)
11:54: Wilson scrambles outside of the pocket on 2nd and 7 and a late hit is called on Boyett. Not the best move by Boyett, love the aggressiveness, but it negates great pursuit by the Oregon defense who then gives up a touchdown when the Badgers get a fresh set of downs in side the Oregon 10-yard line.
10:50: De’Anthony Thomas gets a huge return for Oregon out towards midfield. Creating short fields for Oregon and making long ones for Wisconsin was key in this game.
10:49: Oregon runs another sweep play with LaMichael James.. oh wait! It’s Kenjon Barner wide open down the sidelines! A great play action look that gave Thomas two wide open receivers, Paulson and Barner. Key player on this play, Paulson, who is wide open too and escorts Barner in to the end zone. Oregon is so fast the tight end can get past the Wisconsin safety and then block him all the way to the endzone. Team speed.
9:55: Wisconsin runs two plays, Oregon does a good job bottling up the first run, gave up a few yards on the second. Stat of the game so far: out of the 20 minutes played by both teams, Oregon has only 4 minutes and 14 seconds on offense. Quick strikes for dayz brought to you by the Black Mamba.
8:40: Kiko Alonso flies through the hole in order to get a big stop on second down. Oregon rushes up to the line in order to plug holes and allow for pursuit. Holes seem to pop open and Alonso and Clay rush to fill them. The speed of the linebackers are so fast that they can fill the holes before the linemen can get to them. These two are work so well together and it’s going to be crazy next year because right now they are on fire.
6:31: After giving up a bad 3rd down play Oregon gets a ton of pressure on Russell Wilson, forcing him to backpedal for 8 yards while just getting off an uncatchable. May have been pass interference, but was most likely uncatchable. Regardless, that first pass interference call was horse crap.
5:43: On 3rd and 1 Oregon linebackers fill the holes quickly and Ball gets stuck in the backfield.
5:07: On 4th and 1 the Badgers go for the first down when in the red zone and their play call is a play action. You have a running back that is one of the best in the country and a line that is chewing up yards, so why on earth would you run play action? Russell Wilson can’t find anyone, rolls out to try and get the first himself, but is tackled by Alonso. Alonso is on fire right now. He can do no wrong.
4:26: Herbstreit mentions the time to prepare for the second time this Rose Bowl and then states the main reason why Wisconsin can’t keep up; their offensive line isn’t elite. That’s only what I said all build up for the game.
3:32: Darron Thomas is tackled from behind from his blindside. Even watching it on television in slow motion it looks like Thomas’ arm got knocked at the moment he started moving his hand forward. The result of the play was a fumble recover for a touchdown. Easy points for the Badgers. A late Christmas gift if you will. They needed it anyways. Based on my expert lip reading abilities Chip Kelly was yelling at Thomas for not recognizing the blitz and sliding protection.
3:23: De’Anthony Thomas takes away too long to decide whether to run the ball and the result is having to start at the 15 yard line. I don’t care how deep De’Anthony is in the end zone, just make a decision, if he wants to go then go, but don’t wait.
3:22: LaMichael James breaks off a huge run on an inside zone read. LaMichael James’ breakaway speed is unbelievable when compared to mere mortal BIG-10 defenses. Seriously, it looks like he’s playing against high school speed. If the field was five yards wider he could have taken that run all the way to the endzone.
1:51: Lavasier Tuinei catches a deep crossing pattern in a very small window. I’m in absolute shock he didn’t drop it. Tuinei came up big in the national title game so maybe he only likes performing well in bowl games. I don’t know what happens with college kids, but it’s like they don’t think about things and act irrationally, if that makes any sense at all.
1:42: Oregon runs a trick play by handing off the ball to Bryan Bennett who rolls right before throwing back to Darron Thomas who has a few blockers in front of him. I would have bet money Oregon would run a play with both quarterbacks in. They’re both too good of passers and runners for them to not be in at least once or twice.
:35: Herbstreit mentions time to prepare for the third time of the half.
:30: Tuinei again with a huge catch! Did he show up today or what! He fakes a slant before taking a pivot step to run towards the sideline. Thomas places the ball perfectly to the outside and this ties up the game going in to the half. Simply stunning.
14:34: LaMichael James loses his balance but somehow pushes himself for five more yards for a first down. This is something Jonathan Stewart was also really good at.
14:22: De’Anthony Thomas blows up for another huge run on a jet sweep play. It’s official, he’s really good at football. Again, downfield blocking was unbelievable. Tuinei is destroying his guy downfield, and LaMichael James goes all out on blocking a defensive back. And who’s downfield blocking for him? None other than a man who goes by the name David Paulson. A real team effort by everybody.
13:55: The Oregon defense is selling out on the run, putting 8 guys in the box on every play, no matter how many receivers are out wide.
12:40: Montee Ball does one of the most painful things I can ever imagine. He tries to jump up over John Boyett, but Boyett rises with him and the result is a helmet to the groin region. It looks really painful, but in full BAMF mode Ball stays in and doesn’t care. Honey Badger-esque. Then ESPN replays it three times as every man in America cringes.
10:55: Oregon rushes from the boundary side and forces Russell to have to throw earlier than he wanted. Boyett rolled over the top of the intended receiver and the ball sails out of bounds, creating a 4th and 8, forcing Wisconsin to kick a field goal. The scoreboard now reads Oregon 35 – Wisconsin 31.
10:50: De’Anthony Thomas gives me a heart attack by deciding whether or not to return the kick. Thomas steps on the line and nose crosses the plane, but the ball has to completely cross the plane. Wisconsin fans are still pissed about this while ignoring the rules on message boards (which is another reason why you never EVER go on message boards). I will die a few months earlier now because of that kneel.
10:45: Wisconsin’s head coach Bielema calls a timeout to get the refs to look at the play again, but it’s not a reviewable play. Wisconsin has now burned two timeouts in the first 4 minutes of the half. Can you believe that! He’s the anti-Andy Reid, who never calls out. Bielema calls them way too early, and he definitely needed them later in the game.
8:01: Russell makes a couple mistakes on 1st and 10 in the middle of an effective drive. He pulls the ball from a run play, then decides he doesn’t like the bubble screen, and then has to run for his life in order to gain two yards.
7:34: White gets bounced backwards by Clay at the line of scrimmage and is caught quickly be other Duck defenders in pursuit creating 3rd and 8. It was a great set of downs by the defense until Wilson breaks outside the pocket and gets a 17-yard run.
4:45: Wilson rifles a pass to Toon before Toon looks and connects on a beautiful pass to the corner of the endzone. It arcs just over the defensive back in front of the receiver but before the safety gets to the receiver. An NFL throw.
4:40: Oregon runs a similar play to the one where Kenjon Barner got a touchdown by packaging a wheel route with a vertical route. Thomas throws a bullet high and outside to Tuinei who uncharacteristically catches it no problem. At this point victory is assured because our receivers are catching the ball and Thomas doesn’t really throw bad passes today.
2:46: The second moment of the game where I feel like I got hit by a truck, Thomas throws a pass too high (I knew I jinxed him) that gets tipped and intercepted. Tipped passes in the middle of zone coverages will cause millions of problems.
:46: Kiko Alonso just made one of the most amazing plays I have ever seen. He baits Wilson in to throwing to a receiver only to cut in at the last moment and make a diving interception. There probably couldn’t have been a better play for Wilson to make other than not throw to that receiver (who in all fairness looked wide open until Alonso jumped horizontally eight yards). (Judging by his post game interview he was probably so in the zone he has no recollection of this game. Like when the freshman running back in Friday Night Lights keeps breaking off huge runs but won’t let go of the football, even when the refs ask for it) This is, “The Russian is cut!” moment.
:13: Oregon goes back to the overload look they ran often against Stanford for a first down. This is the second to last play in the third quarter and sets us up for an exciting fourth quarter.
14:54: Play no. 112 why De’Anthony Thomas is unbelievable. Future college supper star catches a ball running a shallow crossing route and dodges a defender, then cuts up field for the first down, narrowly getting it. There’s a total presence of mind with Thomas and shows experience well beyond his years.
14:35: Another touchdown for Lavasier Tuinei! This guy is catching everything! Darron Thomas starts with an empty backfield and rolls right. His first two looks are covered but he sees that Tuinei is about to hit a soft spot in the zone. Thomas throws back across the field, a throw that Favre always connects on but is either a touchdown or a pick. Oregon now leads 42-38.
14:15: On 2nd and 10 Wisconsin runs a stretch play towards the boundary but Michael Clay quickly pursues up field and tackles him in the backfield. As long as the Ducks wrap up they always stop the ball carrier when the play goes outside.
13:40: On 3rd and long Oregon runs a zone blitz with defenders sitting on the first down line. The only open receiver is Montee Ball who catches the ball with eight yards to go for a first down but only gets two yards after the catch. Wisconsin is forced to kick after giving up a touchdown to Oregon.
12:24: After running bubble screens all day Oregon finally runs the fake bubble screen and who catches it? None other than Lavasier Tuinei. Darron Thomas puts the ball on a rope after two defensive backs fly up field, letting the safety try to defend two people. Tuinei is left wide open on one of the easiest passing plays of the game, although rarely seen this regular season.
10:17: Later in the drive a holding call wipes out a great pass by Darron Thomas to De’Anthony Thomas on a wheel route. If Weems didn’t hold then it would’ve been a sack. The next play before the snap has a false start. Now Oregon is screwed at 2nd and 25. That is the opposite of what Oregon is trying to do.
8:50: On 5th and 6 Darron Thomas dodges a defender standing in the pocket and hits Lavasier Tuinei on a quick slant for the first down. Chip Kelly’s balls must be gargantuan. Obviously the Ducks aren’t going to rely on the kicking game to get points on what would be a 47-yard field goal, and Tuinei is playing out of his mind. Like Tom Cruise’s character in Risky Business, “Sometimes you just gotta say, what the F?”
6:55: Alejandro Maldonado looked good kicking field goals before the game and at halftime. Here he hits a chip shot and Oregon goes up 45-38. Now Wisconsin has to get a touchdown to go in to overtime, but (gasp), Wisconsin could go for two if they score. Could you imagine the Rose Bowl being decided by a 2-point conversion? Bring me the defibrillator just in case. I will need it.
6:39: It seems every other run that Wisconsin makes get stuffed at the line or in the backfield. The Badger line is beginning to let people slip through the cracks and disrupt the play. Conditioning is taking hold.
5:09: Russell Wilson moves around in the pocket like an old guy on a walker. He feels pressure comes and takes small step in one direction. He’s so fast but limits himself to walking and standing upright. Wilson sometimes just stands right behind a blocker, so close that a push could knock the blocker back in to him.
4:06: FUMBLE! Wisconsin receiver Abbrederis catches a deep pass and while going out of bounds gets stripped of the ball. The ball just stis on the edge between in play and out and stops dead. It’s as if Phil Knight is in a box somewhere and hits a button that causes the ball to rotate back in towards the field, like Brad Pitt with the craps dice trigger portraying myself in Ocean’s 13. Michael Clay recovers the ball just before sliding out of bounds while Abbrederis watches on, pinned down out of bounds by John Boyett. Kenny Wheaton has the pick, and Michael Clay may now have the fumble. This play won Oregon the game. A true testament to the character of this team as they have finished almost every game this season but have finished every play.
:23: Oregon kills 3 minutes and 43 seconds by doing their slow down pace. The one where they fake a snap, look over the at the sideline for a play, and then stand around waiting to drain the play clock. The Ducks punt it back to Wisconsin who calls for a fair catch at the 12-yard line. Musberger splooges about De’Anthony Thomas being a gunner on punt coverage and talks about how he worked all week on it. Really, Musberger, he’s only been doing it all game and all year. Who’s the other gunner? Kenjon Barner. It almost makes me wonder on if he had a prop bet on the over/under of him mentioning “The Black Mamba.” (It would be like if the person who sings the national anthem at the Super Bowl bets on them going over the prop number. How doesn’t this happen more? On another note, Christina Aguilera had to know that the number people were betting on was 1:47 because she hit it spot on.)
:02: Boyett absolutely crushes Toon. Both are clearly rung as they struggle to get up. If the clock stops due to injury then Wisconsin gets time to get a play in and get off quick play to try and get a touchdown. What follows is a Rocky 2 like race for both Toon and Boyett to stand up before the other, the loser is forced to have play stopped for them, which neither wants.
:00: With two seconds left on the clock Russell Wilson tries to spike the ball but takes too long and the clock runs out. The play is reviewed and the ruling on the field was correct. I bet Bielema wishes he didn’t burn those two stupid timeouts at the beginning of the second half right now. Better question, why didn’t he call two plays before their last one? Why not prepare for a likely situation. These things don’t make sense. On top of that, why didn’t Russell Wilson run a check to run four verticals? Everyone knows they need to go to the end zone, you might as well run a play that puts all your receivers in a position where they can score points.
After the game I sit down in the bleachers and I cry for ten minutes, just balling like a girl at the end of The Notebook. Just kidding, but it got emotional in my section. The drive home was much better than the previous two years and the In-N-Out has never tasted better. The worst part is now we have to wait four months for our next fix of football quack. The best part of the spring game is that it’s only duck players. I can’t wait for more Duck football.