Friday, September 4, 2009

Blount done for the season

It was only a little over a month ago when these words were manifested from my own mind:
LeGarrette Blount could end up with some ridiculous numbers this year. The only thing that might keep him from putting up 1,500 yards: Jeremiah Masoli, who finished as the fourth-rated rushing quarterback in the country. In other words, Oregon's offense = terrifying.
I missed one other potential pitfall for Blount: complete insanity.

His punch to the face of Boise's Byron Hout wasn't the problem -- in fact, seeing the smirk wiped off Hout's face after unnecessarily taunting Blount was fairly amusing -- but when Blount went completely nuclear and shoved a teammate, went after the fans and had to be restrained by numerous players and a security guard, there was no doubt that he'd be in for some serious punishment. And so it is:
Star running back LeGarrette Blount won't play for Oregon again this year. The school suspended him on Friday for the remainder of season.
I wasn't expecting a season-long suspension -- I would have guessed about four or five games -- but it's hard to argue that he didn't deserve it. And Blount has had problems before: He was suspended in the spring for "failure to fulfill team obligations," which apparently had something to do with his inability to show up for team functions.

Honestly, though, I'm not sure whether the most concerning thing from Thursday night's ugliness was Blount's suspension or the fact that even with Blount, Oregon didn't have a single freakin' first down until midway through the third quarter. The offensive line couldn't block, Masoli couldn't throw and nobody could hang onto the ball. It was a horrific performance against a solid but unspectacular defense.

Oregon will probably get things together -- the offense was fine last year despite playing about 37 different quarterbacks because of injuries -- but a Pac-10 title is a pipe dream now (at least I didn't predict anything like that ... wait, I did?). Cal and USC obviously both have far better athletes on defense than Boise, and while some first-game sloppiness was to be expected, it's clear that Oregon has a lot of work to do -- especially now that their best player will be standing on the sidelines.

As for Boise, I wasn't surprised at all that the Broncos won -- a 60-2 home record in the last decade is hard to ignore, and they were actually favored by 3 points -- but the way Oregon's offensive line was manhandled was pretty stunning. If Boise's defense plays anywhere near that level for the rest of the season, the Broncos will finish 12-0 and play in a BCS bowl. No one in the WAC should be able to compete with them.

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