13.Dec.2009 The Beavers Need a Sports Psychologist
If they don’t have one already. They might, I don’t keep track of these things, but if they do have one they need a better one.
One problem I’ve noticed the past few years is that the Beavers lose a lot of games versus opponents’ helmets (e.g. Penn State, USC) or ranking (Oregon x 2, Cincy). The only time they do well is when nothing is expected of them (e.g. Cal in 2007) or the superior team hands them the victory (e.g. USC’s 4 turnovers in 2006).
I think this stems from two things:
1. The Beavers land recruits who were rejected by USC, Oregon, Cal, etc. I’m convinced this gives them a permanent inferiority complex, despite any accolades (e.g. POY, first team, etc) the conference might bestow upon them and despite any team success. A dog that has been beaten will continue to flinch, no matter how many times a hand pets them. The staff can coach them up to be players that football powers would like, but the scars remain. The players themselves have said as much, so this goes beyond opinion and is simply a fact.
2. The Beavers go into big games hoping to win, but not expecting to win. It was evident in the USC game this year. That game was there for the taking. Compare Stanford’s mindset in playing USC versus the Beavers. Stanford said, “these guys are vulnerable, they’re down, we’re going to go in there and kick them”…Beavers went in saying, “we’re going to feel this thing out, take their best punch, then react as necessary.” The Beavers never took the initiative and they lacked killer instinct. Both stem from lacking confidence. The Stanford men weren’t recruited by USC, but they have pride in their academics and feel superior to USC in that regard. The Beavers can’t hang their hats on academic superiority, either, so they’re simply left feeling inferior in all aspects of college athletics and thus they are relegated to hoping these superior opponents beat themselves.
They need to get over this inferiority complex in order to take the next step. Even in the Civil War it was evident. I wrote in my pregame notes that “Oregon has a confidence that they can’t be stopped and this makes them doubly dangerous”, and I stand by that remark. Oregon was 3 for 3 on 4th downs, the Beavers were 1 for 2. Those three fourth down plays decided the game, and the ability to make (and not make) those conversions was based mostly on a mindset.
What these players need to be taught, beyond technique and execution, is (a) confidence and (b) the magnitude of the moment. Because right now they lack both versus “superior” opponents, and all they (and thus we as fans) can do for such games is hope the opponent beats themselves. It’s impossible to take the next step with that mindset. A sports psychologist and cognitive behavior therapy would do wonders for this team.