Oregon Football Spring Game Will Answer All Of Our Burning Questions

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 13: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles in the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 30-27. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 13: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles in the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 30-27. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

It’s officially time for the Spring Game, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve been itching for more Duck football since the Redbox Bowl finally ended.

I’m starting a weekly Oregon football column that will hopefully serve as an update for serious and less-serious Duck fans alike.

I’ve come up with a few original sections, and a few that are completely unoriginal, but I’m sure they’ll be swapped in and out as the offseason drags on. Oregon die-hards might also notice that a few of the sections are named after the lyrics from the greatest song ever written, the Original Mighty Oregon.

The Footbridge Focus

The single most important thing in Duck football this week.

The ever-important Spring Game is this weekend, and I’m just sure it will end up answering every single lingering question we might be asking about the new squad.

Don’t get me wrong, the Spring Game is always a blast. The game is typically played on a semi-perfect spring Saturday, and fans are always excited to get back into the Autzen groove. But mostly, the Spring Game is just a prime event for people to overreact (good or bad) about the state of the team.

By the end of the game, some pundits might be getting ready to declare if this team is College Football Playoff-bound or not,  but the only thing I’m looking for tomorrow is enthusiasm.

I want to see coaches— other than Coach Feld— that are focused on pumping the boys up. Granted, Cristobal and Co. have been really good at positive reinforcement from the start of their reign, but Leavitt’s departure could leave room for even more freedom and personality to emerge, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Speaking of the defense, it was clear that the Hillsboro practice left a lot of folks praising the defensive energy. I’m keen on seeing them fly around and continue to find their swagger under Andy Avalos’ new system. With veteran leadership in Troy Dye and Thomas Graham Jr., coupled with the brutality of Jordon Scott, and the electric addition of Kayvon Thibedoux, could we see another historic Oregon defense emerge like the D-Boyz and Gang Green of old?

You also always want the Spring Game to instill confidence in your second unit. All reports out of the scrimmage portion of the Hillsboro practice indicated that Tyler Shough is emerging as the clear QB2, so we can all breathe a little easier. Probably.

Look, as a Duck fan, I’ve been hurt too many times before, so please forgive me if I want to see a little more before I decide if Shough is the next Tony Graziani, or if he’s the next Brady Leaf.

For the record, I really hope it’s the former.

I basically just hope that the Spring Game reveals some emerging heroes. I also don’t want it to be a total blowout on either side of the ball. But like the rest of you, I’m just starving to get my fix of those good ol’ Herbie highlights.

More from Autzen Zoo

Sun and Shadow

One good thing & one bad thing. 

/ Back the team in sun and shadow, / 

Sun of the Week

I’m going to go out on a limb here and give the first Sun of the Week honor the literal Sun. The Duck twitter sphere is abuzz about the plethora of high profile recruits that will be in Eugene this weekend to witness UO while spring term is in full swing. The University has always made sure to strategically schedule prospective student visits during this time of year, so here’s hoping that the top-rated recruits took their official campus tours yesterday when it was 78 and sunny, and not today while it’s 58 and raining.

Shadow of the Week

Alright, so since it’s still pretty early on, I’m having a tough time coming up with a “Shadow” right now. Does that make me a complete homer? I don’t think so. I just made that one semi-critical comment about Tyler Shough that simultaneously knocked Brady Leaf, that has to count for some sort of journalistic integrity, right?

I’ll have a real Shadow of the Week for you next week, I promise.

Guard Thee On and On

If I need to do some venting— and I usually do— this is where I’ll do it.

/ We will guard thee on and on /

Look, I know that getting mad about Duck haters on twitter isn’t productive AT ALL, but with the news of Sabrina Ionescu deciding to return for her senior season, a lot of people have pointed out that two near-consensus overall draft picks have decided to return to Eugene. And that’s pretty sweet.

However, I made the grave mistake at scrolling through some of the replies to these tweets.

Much like all internet comment sections, the reply chain was a wasteland of Duck deniers that refused to admit that Herbert was EVER in the running to be the number one overall pick.

I’ll admit, Justin had a statistically lackluster season in 2018, and he also benefitted from the 2019 class being a light on QBs. But it is absolutley insane to disregard that his physical attributes, his arm strength, and leadership qualities are made every respectable expert (and even most of the less respectable ones) believe that he was (and still is) a serious candidate to become a franchise QB at the next level.

Just when you thought rival twitter trolls couldn’t get more delusional, they outdo themselves once again.

Herbie doesn’t need me to defend him from the never-ending onslaught of delusional Duck haters, but I can either rant about it here, or reply to them, and nobody has ever won a twitter fight.

Random Historic Oregon Thing I’m Thinking About this Week

Along with recruits, Cristobal is also welcoming back a sizable group of Oregon football alumni as honored guests for the Spring Game.

Coach tweeted out this photo of him with Jeff Maehl, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and Brett Haberly. It would be pretty simple for me to pick out iconic plays and stories from Ifo, or the Maehlman, but I’m not interested in simple.

If there’s one thing I promise you about this column, it’s that I will always opt for a Brent Haberly deep cut. Always.

This clip comes from 2005 in fabulous Tucson, Arizona, where the 15th-ranked Ducks found themselves tied with the 1-6 Wildcats in the fourth quarter. Arizona ended up fumbling the ball, allowing Haberly to take the Vince Papale bounce all the way to the house. As many tend to do in Arizona Stadium, the linebacker weathered a tidal wave of cans and bottles, courtesy of the home crowd, and his TD helped the Ducks escape with a 28-21 win.

Final Whistle’s Call

This is where I’ll wrap it all up.

/ Oregon is never beaten / ’till the final whistle’s call /

Hopefully this format made some sort of sense because I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ll end the column by guaranteeing a Ducks win tomorrow.

You can lock that one in and take it to the bank.

Go Ducks.