You know what struck me? (No, it wasn't Blount's fist. ...Sorry.) In the areas where we really lost the game, it was our young guys.
First, though not as important as my second point, the offensive line. They did do some things well; some things extremely well, for one, pass protection for most of the game. BUT... zero push on running plays, and giving up too much pressure in the late 3rd, and the entire 4th. Phillip, a FR, gave up sacks, Johnson, a FR was, (with all due respect, cuz he's a D1 athlete - I'm not), at best, a pushover, andLinnenkohl, a SO, looked confused. The O-line is the reason we settled for 4 fg's. Not play-calling, not Quizz, not Sean, the O-line. Know why? They're young. That's not an excuse; that's a reason.
The other main area we got beat: tackling. Major props to one Mark Banker. He had his guys in position almost every time. His guys just didn't wrap up. Know why? They're young. That's not an excuse; that's a reason. The defining moment of the game was the 4th & 3, when Masoli bounced off of Mitchell. Banker had Mitchell in position, and to his credit, Mitchell was there, lined up perfectly. He had done a lot of things right in the game; for one, a beautiful breakup on a deep ball to Maehl. But on this play, he's in position, he's set, and... Goes for the hit. Instead of the wrap-up tackle. But you know what? I can't blame him for that. He's a freshman. He's going to make mistakes. And that's Masoli, the best open-field QB in the nation, making a play. Yes Mitchell needs to make the tackle. Of course he does. But he's young. I can't hold him to a standard of perfection. He made a couple great plays, he made a costly mistake.
But we all make mistakes. That's what happens when you're young.
So yes we lost. Yes we made several key mistakes. But we just lost to a team that is in my opinion, right there
with Texas & Florida. (NO WAY! WHAT?! THOSE ARE UNDEFEATED! Mmhmm. But the strength of schedule is not even close to comparable.) And we lost at their place, which is one of the hardest atmospheres to win in, and that is not just in my opinion. And we lost by 4. And we were oh-so-close. "Close only counts in..." I know. But still. We weren't supposed to win this game. All credit to the Ducks. This was their year. They won it.
But for us, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year, remember? Yes it's a dark day. But in my opinion, the future has never been brighter. Mike Riley, Danny Langsdorf, and Mark Banker took this young group to the cusp of the Rose Bowl. Remember the hallmark of our program: our guys always improve. I remember watching Yvenson Bernard for the first time, against Boise State. He sucked. Check that, he SUCKED. But by the time he was a senior, you couldn't believe the difference. These guys will be seniors one day. Looking at what they did as freshman, how can you NOT be excited? Our young guys made mistakes, and lost us the game. But they'll learn and improve, and win us some games.
They made mistakes, but they'll learn and improve. That's what happens when you're young.