The 2019 Oregon football team has gotten a lot of incredible contributions from players named Herbert, Verdell, Sewell, Dye, and Holland, but great sports teams are often better defined by the unsung heroes that don’t often end up making headlines.
After Brenden Schooler announced that he was entering the Transfer Portal last week, I steadfastly defended his decision to do so with a lot of my fellow Oregon football fans.
I think he did every single thing this program asked him to do. He played safety on a historically disorganized and awful Oregon defense. He was willing to move to receiver, where he was always sure-handed. And he was an all-conference special teams player throughout his entire career. And he did all that while constantly being recognized by the team as a model teammate.
I believe that Brenden Schooler is a total “Glue Guy” in every sense of the made up sports-term. He held the team together through thick and thin, he was a willing and capable role player, and he did most of it with little-to-no recognition.
I want to make it clear that I am so appreciative of everything that Schooler gave to this University and the football program. And I have no doubt that he will be the same kind of Glue Guy for (presumably) his brother’s Arizona Wildcats next season. I genuinely wish him the best.
But after watching the gritty comebacks of the last two weeks, I think it would be appropriate to recognize a couple of deserving Glue Guys that are actually still on this current Oregon football team as they fight for the Playoff.
One of the number one defining traits of a Glue Guy is that they’re often overlooked. And the single most overlooked contribution in the last two games has been Hunter Kampmoyer’s insane blocking.
If you go back watch the replay of the Washington game but just fast forward to every time Kampmoyer is on the field. You’ll see Husky defenders crumble when he steps into run blocking, and you’ll also see him get to the second level during those Arroyo screen plays quicker than you can say “Bow Down.”
Maybe he’s not a huge receiving threat right now, but we’re not talking about stats guys, we’re talking about Glue Guys.
So do yourself a favor this Saturday and zero-in on Kampmoyer every single time he’s on the field against USC—especially if he lines up in front of CJ—because he just might be the best blocker on the team that isn’t named Penei Sewell.
If you took Spencer Webb at +5000 as the first Duck to score a touchdown in 2019, then I’d politely ask you to return that Sports Almanac back to the future, Biff.
But that’s what happened. And this guy has caught every single pass thrown his way since then. At least it sure feels like he has. The thing that cements Webb as a Glue Guy has been the fact that he’s come up so big the three most important games of the year so far.
He posterized an Auburn corner for his first career reception. He caught a huge Breeland-esque touchdown in the seam against Washington. And he had a catch in the final drive against Wazzu that people have been criminally silent about when recounting the comeback drive.
The catch also did way more than gain needed yards, it must’ve also exposed a special weakness in the Cougs’ prevent defense that made Arroyo call an almost identical route to Juwan Johnson on the very next play.
He’s one of the surprise key contributors of this season, and—as Oregon football fans—we don’t know much about his personality as we do about a guy like Herbie or Breeland. Is Webb the kind of guy I’d let into my college party? Jury is still out on that one. But Glue Guys are almost always unknown and mysterious, so I must admit that his early success shows me that he has a shot at being an all-conference player in a year or two.
I’ve been on this for some time now, but Slade-Matautia is the best open field tackler in the country, and it’s not even close. The whole Oregon defense is obviously greatly improved in so many categories this season, but tackling has been a huge bright spot (we’re ignoring Borghi the human fire hydrant).
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Jevon Holland (and the rest of the secondary) deserve to be mentioned in the open field tackling category as well, but those guys get talked about a ton. There’s no better definition of a Glue Guy than someone who has to play in the mammoth shadow of Troy “The Shout” Dye, and still finds himself in on seemingly every play.
Issac has four games with 5+ tackles, and has notched a career high of 7 tackles in two different games this season. He’s a redshirt sophomore this year and I think Duck fans should prepare themselves for him to anchor the linebacking corps next season as Dye and Winston Jr. depart.
In the name of accountability, I’ll note that he did have a few coverage lapses against the Cougs this past weekend. The good news is that he has an opportunity to study all that game film this week and immediately correct those mistakes against USC’s similar Air Raid style. A handful of Slade-Matautia redemption-pass break-ups would be the ultimate Glue Guy move.
He blocks downfield like the receivers of the halcyon days of Scott Frost. Besides just the physical and numerical similarities, he reminds me so much of Lavasier Tuinei as a receiver. He is reliable as hell, and even though he got himself an unsportsmanlike penalty against Washington for trying to steal a Husky fan’s pom pom, I have to give him some credit for getting so excited about Mycah Pittman’s first career touchdown. Total team guy.
Johnny Johnson III
As my cousin Andy says after every JJ3 reception, “Johnny Johnson doesn’t catch that last year!!!” And he’s right. Johnny clearly put in the work in the offseason that Oregon football desperately needed. He catches everything thrown his way now.
Doesn’t get a ton of defensive play at safety, but he has one of two (2) defensive touchdowns this season, and he is one of those guys that people around the program literally can’t say enough great things about. He’s the true definition of a Glue Guy.
As for predictions for this week, I think the Ducks are going to run, run, and run some more. Let’s go with a 42-24 win.