"I wish I was athletic enough to escape this tackle." (via cache.daylife.com)
Most of the conversation about the Boise State - Oregon game on September 3 has been jovial, fair, and hotly anticipated. And then Paul Buker put ergonomic keyboard to Movable Type.
...there is no way Boise State is quick enough and athletic enough to contain that UO spread...
Buker, a reporter at the Oregonian whose personal email is email@example.com, covers the Oregon State beat, hates babies, and did not watch last year's Oregon-Boise State game. At least, that's what I could glean from his bio.
How else to explain the gross generality? It's one thing to be an expert on Jacquizz Rodgers and Mike Riley, but it's another entirely to make assumptions about the ability of a team he probably hasn't seen play since Oregon State vs. Boise State, circa 2006. And on that note:
My only advice for the Ducks would be DO NOT jump out to a 14-0 lead. Don't believe me? Talk to Mike Riley.
Clever. You see what he did there? Allusion!
To be fair, Buker did buttress his Boise-State-is-weaksauce comment a little bit by preceding it with the ever-excusable "I'm thinking that..." and ending it with the parenthetical "(if Masoli is playing well)." In that case, I'm thinking that there is no way I will ever eat at Dairy Queen again (if all the Dairy Queens in the world closed for good in the next 15 minutes). Seriously. Come on.
The comment itself is neutered enough that I don't expect sheer outrage from Bronco Nation to ensue. But here's where my personal outrage comes from: Didn't we go through a similar theme last year? If I recall, the problem with last year's Boise State team is that they wouldn't be able to handle Oregon's speed, especially on the Ducks' home turf. As a smaller, non-BCS school, the Broncos simply would not have the athletes and talent to match up. If they were to win, it would have to be with guile, misdirection, and Kellsy's almighty left arm.
Not even one year later, we're right back to square one - more or less.
Instead of "team speed" being the Broncos' albatross, it's athleticism. Are we judging the whole team based on Thomas Byrd's ability to do the grapevine? I should hope not.
In case no one's noticed (and by "no one," I am obviously refrring to Mr. Buker), Boise State has been stocking its coffers with blue-chip athletes more and more every recruiting season. The 2009 Bronco team will be the quickest, most athletic team in school history. Just because the Broncos play in the WAC doesn't mean that they are a halfway house for doughy two-star bums. For goodness' sake, a Bronco defensive tackle broke off a 25-yard run in the spring game. And he returns punts.
I'm not implying that Boise State is equal to Oregon when it comes to a top-to-bottom roster. BSU is closing the gap, but they are not there yet.
What I am overtly implying is that Boise State's quickness and athleticism will not be their downfall when Oregon's lauded spread attack comes to Boise on September 3. The Broncos have seriously good players at every defensive position, and they have a defensive coordinator who understands how to use those players and how to scheme against top-flight offenses.
The Oregon-BSU game will feature a battle between Oregon's best (their offense) and BSU's best (their defense). No need to make it anything less. And certainly no need to do so with a generality that simply isn't true.