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Ducks have perfect mentality for a title run

Apparently there’s a special on thermal blankets at the Wal Mart in Hell. John Canzano said something nice about the Ducks.

In his column today he says Oregon has a legitimate shot at the national championship, but he adds that the team “needs an identity.” He wrote:

It’s true that Oregon doesn’t have a booming voice in the locker room. Its central characters are a quarterback who is soft spoken but brilliant and a head coach who spent a large part of last season insisting he’d change nothing. Nick Aliotti, the outspoken and entertaining defensive coordinator, retired, and I figured the Ducks might just be the quietest team in America this season.

He’s wrong about that part. Oregon has a very clear identity, one that’s shaped by team leaders like Marcus Mariota, Ifo Ekpre Olomu, Byron Marshall, Hroniss Grasu, DeForest Buckner and Derrick Malone. It’s true they are all quiet, modest guys, but they are also cold-eyed competitors, assassins on the football field with a great will to win.

The Oregon team will be calm, focused and businesslike. They will be undistracted. They have taken the lessons of 2013 to heart and have used them as motivation in the weight room and on  the practice field. This isn’t a team to get caught up in the hype or undone by the pressure. They won’t overlook anyone. When the Harley roars, they’ll just play.

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Once a Duck: Oregon great Kenjon Barner embraces Byron Marshall at the Spring Game. Players like Barner and Taylor Hart have helped create a identity for Duck football, something coaches like to call The Oregon Way. It’s talent that works hard, a team-first mentality (Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports photo).

There are no big egos on this team. There are no rogues to pop off in the press or make faces at the crowd. There’s great loyalty in this team, and exceptional drive. They’re intelligent and focused as well as talented.

This is a group that will be eager to play and understands effort in preparation. This is a group that has become accustomed to a high level of success, and fervently wants the ultimate in team success. They understand that every week is a big game and that the biggest games just demand that they do their jobs.

The 2014 team will have exceptional execution and discipline, and that will be their identity. Every individual accomplishment, every touchdown and big defensive play, will be celebrated by everyone of them. They’ll push each other, but on game day, they’ll wear one uniform with tremendous pride.

There is a sense of corps in this edition of the Ducks, an uncommon loyalty. That’s what happens when all your leaders are team-first guys, including three who passed up millions to play another year among their brothers.

It’s all the identity they need. The season starts in two weeks, and it is indeed time to dream big.

Dale Newton

About Dale Newton

The Ducks Stops Here is a site for opinions, commentary and analysis on Duck football. I've written it since 2010. Reader contributions are welcome and can be submitted at duckstopshere@yahoo.com

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