The Cerebral Vortex
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THOUGHTS FROM THE FIRST HALF

THOGUHTS AFTER THE FIRST DUCKS SCORE

 

 

Boise State came out after the Oregon touchdown and simply continued to move the ball down the field. Far from being shook up, Kellen Moore continued to find his receivers. D.J. Harper had rushed for four yards on the first two downs before Kellen Moore found Titus Young for a ten-yard reception and a first down. Then, stepping into the pocket, Moore found tight end Richie Brockel for a 12-yard gain. But the Ducks, hitting him as he came down with the ball, forced the fumble. Terrell Turner came up with the recovery for Oregon, and the Ducks seemed to have new life.

It wouldn't last long. Oregon nearly had the big play they've been craving all night, when Masoli fired away and found wide receiver Jamere Holland streaking up the middle of the field. But just like the butterfingers that preceded him at the position for Oregon, Holland bobbled the ball and blew his chance at glory. But then the flags became apparent, and it was revealed that the play wouldn't have counted anyway. On the next play, Masoli forced a pass that Bronco linebacker Aaron Tevis nabbed.

Boise State, though, was no more confident of their place in this game at this point than were Oregon. Three straight rushes led to 4th and 1 for the Bronco offense. The kicking team came out, but Brotzman would not try for the field goal. Just 1 for 3 so far in the game on field-goal attempts, the Broncos instead attempted the fake from one yard out, but Oregon sniffed out the fake. Michael Choate, who had scored the first two-point conversion attempt for Boise State before failing on his pass attempt on the second, was credited with a 23-yard loss and a sack after being flagged for intentional grounding and getting penalized at the spot of the foul.

Masoli took the ball and tossed a 27-yard strike to backup tight end David Paulson. Just outside the Boise State 30-yard-line, Masoli kept the ball on the next play... and picked up six yards before regurgitating the rock and handing the ball right back to the home team.

Something is going on in Boise. There's no moisture in the air in Boise; the game started in 88-degree weather on a partly cloudy Idaho day. The humidity was just 17 percent, so moisture cannot be attributed to all the fumbles in this game. Because as soon as Boise State got the ball back, there they were, bobbling the snap right after getting the turnover. Oregon recovered the ball along the line, and counted their lucky stars after getting another first down right back where they'd just coughed up their previous chance.

The Ducks bog down now, with their chance right there before them. A holding penalty pushes them back ten yards right off the bat. Masoli completed to Maehl on 1st and 20 to get back eight of the yards. 2nd and 12 saw Maehl and Masoli hook back up for nine more. Now 3rd and 3, this was the big play for Oregon in this game. LeGarrette Blount pounded through the line, but Boise State stopped him a yard shy of the first-down marker. Decision time was there for Chip Kelly in his first game as a Division I head coach. On the Boise State 22, Kelly decided to go for it. Putting the ball in the hands of Blount, his bowling ball in the backfield, the Ducks crossed their fingers... and lost one yard, turning over the ball on downs and leaving behind three potential points that could've come off the foot of senior placekicker Morgan Flint.

After the stop, Boise State's offense was fired up to pay back their defense for the stop and for getting them back on the Smurf Turf. After taking a holding penalty, Kellen Moore stepped right up again and flung another arrow to Austin Pettis, this time for 25 yards down to midfield. First down was swallowed up after a one-yard ground gain. Second down was tipped by an Oregon pass rusher, falling benignly to the turf. On third down, Terrell Turner stepped up and nearly caught an interception for the Ducks. But despite the lack of hands from their defender, Oregon got the ball back after a Brotzman punt. After penalty flags flew, Oregon got pushed back another ten yards for an illegal block in the back. For all the luck that has gone Oregon's way so far in this game, the Ducks can't seem to get a break.

Another three and out, and Oregon's player of the game so far comes back into the game. It's never a good thing when your true freshman punter is the best player in the game so far. But Jackson Rice has proven so far why he was considered the top punting recruit in the nation, and why it was a minor coup when perennial darkhorse and frequent underachiever Oregon landed him. With seven punts at this point, he has put an average of 43.8 yards per punt on each attempt with a long of 53, including his first collegiate attempt that ended in coffin-corner perfection, landing inside the Boise State 5.

But Kellen Moore flubbed it again. Another fumble... another defensive recovery. Oregon got the ball back on the Boise State 37, and promptly turned around and nearly gave the ball right back. Trying to force the ball through a needle, Masoli nearly allowed the ball to be picked off. On second down, he decided after going through his passing progressions to burst outside. Putting his head down like the fullback that he appears, he lowered a shoulder and gained three yards before a jarring collision along the right sideline. With 3rd and 7, the Ducks break down in protection and allow Masoli to be sacked for a seven-yard loss. Going for it on fourth down, Masoli was able to find LeMichael James in the flat, but the freshman from Texarkana was able to gain only _ yards and failed to get the first down. Another turnover on downs for the Ducks, another opportunity lost...

Oregon seemed to never get their option-rushing attack going to its full potential in this game, and by the time their offense finally fired up somewhat they were too far down and required to continue throwing the ball. And when you get Masoli into a gunfight with Kellen Moore, he's going to lose that battle quickly. Austin Pettis is already a brilliant target for Moore, catching every ball tossed his way and making one big play after another. For Masoli, his most familiar target from last year's crew is Jeffrey Maehl, who caught 39 passes last year for 421 yards and five touchdowns. He's growing into an able target, but by no means is he on the same level as Pettis.

The clock ticks down, three and a half minutes left in the game, and Boise State has a 3rd and 2 on the Oregon 44. Yet again, there the Broncos are moving the chains. Jeremy Avery took the ball this time to pick up three yards and the marker. 22 times to this point Boise State had picked up the necessary yardage to gain three more downs, and the offense showed no signs of stopping. The ground game kept churning down the clock, keeping the Oregon offense off the field. And the Ducks, despite knowing that run is coming at them pretty much every time now, fail to stop the tailbacks snap after snap after snap.

It simply seems like the Broncos have more heart in this game. Fighting for yards after contact, the skill players are chewing up extra ground that they have no business gaining. The Ducks, conversely, seem to give up on their advancement at the first sign of someone in their way. The Boise State offense failed after four rushes to gain another first down, handing the ball back over to Oregon. But they did it in such a way as to allow just 36 seconds left. Masoli could stand in the pocket all day and pad his stats by checking down to his backs. But there would be no time left on this day for Oregon to find the upset. Maehl would hove the chains, stopping the clock as the crew moved the chains. But the clock never stopped, and Boise State's staff started coming onto the field to celebrate and for handshakes. Receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Ducks moved into Bronco territory. But with three seconds left, there was nothing left to do but run the clock to zero.

After the game, LeGarrette Blount came to the Boise State sideline and decked defensive end Bryan Hout with a right cross directly to Hout's chin that had him down for a moment. Blount, who showed so much promise for the Ducks last season, has continued his recidivist ways. Blount was suspended in the spring for off-field indiscretions, and now it looks like the junior-college transfer has found his way further into hot water. Hout certainly tapped Blount, but he did little to earn such a dubious reply. Then, after heading toward the sideline, Blount once again flipped out as Boise State fans heckled him from the stands. The police were forced to come on to the field, subduing Blount and pulling him into the tunnel. An absurdly sophomoric ending to an otherwise invisible game for Blount, it appears that he is doing his damnedest to work his way off the Oregon Ducks roster.

The game, which was sloppy and poorly fought by both sides for long stretches, was finally over. For the Broncos, their BCS Buster dreams are still fully alive. A quality win against a Ducks team which took ten wins last season is a great notch in the cap for Boise State as they head into the rest of an imminently winnable season. For the Ducks, an already shaky performance by all units was undignified further by Blount's postgame actions. Chip Kelly has a lot of work to do if this Ducks team is to live up to its preseason hype; they've already dug their hole plenty deep after a 19-8 loss...

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