After a long day of travel yesterday, we’re finally back within the comfortable boundaries of Eugene. The mood among Duck fans is, understandably, still somber after Oregon’s showing against LSU, and it’s hard to blame them. Chip Kelly’s squad was considered by many to be a contender for the national title and, after just one week, those dreams are in serious jeopardy.
It was a tough loss, and difficult to watch throughout. That much cannot be denied. But on this Labor Day morning, it seemed appropriate to lighten the mood a bit. Contrary to popular belief, there were a few positive developments to take away from Cowboys Stadium. To name a few:
The fumbles. That’s all anyone will want to talk about when Thomas’ name is brought up, and yes, I saw them too. No one can deny that the momentum shifted permanently when the true freshman fumbled twice within the span of two minutes in the third quarter.
It was the classic example of why Kelly is so reluctant to play true freshman on a regular basis. But Thomas also showed flashes of brilliance, moments that explained why this freshman was out on the field in such an important game. Watch the tape of the fumbles again (if you can stomach it). You’ll notice that he was in midst of explosive runs on both occasions, showing off his blinding foot-speed and impressive vision. As a receiver, Thomas led the team in catches with five. As a running back, he hit holes harder than either LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner had all night.
The mistakes were huge, but Thomas’ debut can hardly be called a failure. If nothing else, the “Black Mamba” will certainly be exciting to watch.
The redshirt freshman center had one of the toughest assignments going into the year, replacing the ever-reliable Jordan Holmes at the focal point of the offensive line. For the most part, he proved highly capable against an elite LSU defensive front. Though Kelly said he would need to view the tape to further evaluate Grasu, his first impressions were telling.
“He was good,” Kelly said. “I thought he held up in there, we had no snap problems at all…I thought he handled himself and played with some poise.”
Saturday wasn’t the offensive line’s finest night, but Grasu deserves credit for an impressive first start.
-No Panic Button
The mood was oddly calm in the press room just minutes after the final whistle blew on Saturday. Kelly was measured in his assessment of the team’s performance, and when asked if he was worried about his players bouncing back, he placidly replied, “Not at all.”
Clearly, this performance was a setback, and the coaches know that. But it’s nice to see that Kelly doesn’t react to crisis like another head coach who happens to share his surname.
-Speaking of Panic…
It’s week two, and Oregon is favored by 27 points against Nevada this Saturday. Chill out, everyone.