19.Aug.2012 Team Chemistry: Has it Improved, and How Important is it?

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One thing I've noticed in reading all the pre-season interviews and watching videos, that that players look and sound genuinely happy. I know this is counter to all the defections we've seen this year. However, to me it seems like the younger class (those who are FR and SO right now) have bonded more than any classes in the past. Chemistry is a crap-shoot. You can't recruit it. But it seems like the Beavers finally might have gotten some luck with these classes. I spoke with SilverStream via email about team chemistry, since he's been to practices and sees it in person. This is what he said:

Yes, I think chemistry is better this year, for lots of reasons.

Last year was weird in so many ways (Quizz leaving in the off-season, James Rodgers working to come back from the terrible knee injury, then Hardin getting hurt in camp and being declared out for the year, the disgraceful opening loss to Sac State, the mishandled benching of Ryan Katz, the mishandled behavioral suspensions, etc.)

Given all of this weirdness, it's not surprising that team chemistry was problematic last season.  This was then compounded by inept play at key positions up front (DT and OT, esp. Left OT).  Not sure, by mid-season last year, whether the young players who were getting lots of playing time (Mannion, Cooks, Crichton, Wynn, et al) were on the same page as the veterans, either in the locker room or on the field.

I think chemistry also is impacted by expectations.  Last season, the Beavers were looking to bounce back from a 5-7 year that was considered an aberration (after the previous two seasons where the Beavers finished tied for 2d in the conference, and had a legit shot at a Rose Bowl berth until the last game).  When things got weird early on, and it became pretty clear that expectations would probably not be met, team chemistry took a hit.

This season, few "experts" expect much of the Beavers.  That in itself creates a whole different chemistry and vibe — more of an underdog mentality that is a good fit with the relative youth of this year's team.  An "us against the world" mentality often provides a boost to team chemistry, and I think this year's Beaver team is already benefiting from that.

So, again, I do think chemistry this year is different and better than last year.  But I also suspect that the confidence of this Beaver team is somewhat fragile.  The Beavs are fortunate to start this season with two games at home.  If the Beavs trounce Nicholls State on September 1, and then play well against Wisconsin (or — fingers crossed — actually beat the Badgers), the team's confidence will skyrocket, and this season may turn out better than any of the experts expect.  On the other hand, if the Beavs face-plant in either or both of their first two games, I suspect this team's confidence (and chemistry) may go south quickly.

He's right…I think the walk-on/bad OL not only frustrated fans, but probably hurt team chemistry. We know Quizz threw them under the bus a few years ago, and then the Katz situation (the broken wrist that derailed his career was a result of poor line play). Now that those players are gone, there's levity in the program. I'm not sure how this will translate on the field where execution matters most, but I don't see how it can hurt. Chemistry is one of the more important intangibles and rarely acknowledged (by media or fans) as a component to a successful season.

 

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  • bone says:
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    This is a great post!

    And it touches on what I think the is the biggest difference between our successful seasons and our recent two seasons. To me it seems we have a really good number of players who are really striving to be great, bringing their lunch pail everyday, and pushing other players/position groups to do THR same. Obum said in an interview during summer training that the receivers/ quarterbacks were meeting everyday and othe positron groups starting doing the same. That is something that I feel has been lacking in previous years, you hear about the rodger brothers and Paea working hard but not much after that. On an earlier post I mentioned Riley’s change in involvement might be that he is excited to work with this group, not because of the talent but because the players care and want to be great, which is a hard thing to evaluate when recruiting. Hopefully we can continue to build and recruit players that have the same drive as our previous two classes.

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    I agree, good presentation of this topic SS and Angry.

  • angry angry says:
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    A lot of these younger guys have mentioned the Bridge Program…I wonder if they’ve tweaked that program in any way, because the first few years I don’t remember players talking about it as much or bonding so much during that adjustment period.

    • bone says:
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      That could be it also. Now I know a few people on here hate Riley’s clichés, but I sense a different “vibe” and by different I mean better. Let’s hope these better vibes turns into a better season.

  • issaquahbeav says:
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    Last year, this was James Rodger’s team and a lot of guys probably looked up to him. However, it is possible he wasn’t very engaged with the younger guys which led to somewhat of a separation? All speculation, of course, but anything’s possible.

  • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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    Nice analysis, SS. I would like to think that the coach should be part psychiatrist and able to devine the attitudes of his players and move them in directions that generate mutual support. And maybe Riley, in his string of winning seasons, was doing that.

    Some folks on here have speculated that getting beat badly by Kelley, when winning would send us to the Rose Bowl with a conference title, sent Riley into a downward spiral of lost confidence or just lack of interest. Maybe that’s the deal, and he has now recovered.

  • wannabeav says:
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    Great topic and analysis (though wasn’t the first of those losses to Bellotti?) The larger point holds. By my way of thinking each of those crushing losses to the Ducks had its own tragic internal dynamic. The first in Corvallis, coming the week after the nearly miraculous defeat of Arizona, seemed at first most auspicious. Imagine: OSU fans bringing roses to Reser! The victory in Tucson cost us Quizz and in the single worst game day personnel decision of his life, Riley goes with Lyle instead of Canfield. While the Beavs were getting beat up in the desert, the Ducks had the week off, lying in wait. In some respects, OSU had run out of gas. In ’09, the Beavs played the competitive game expected the year before, and if THIS was the one they had played in Corvallis, they might have won it.

    It’s possible, too, that rather than the coaches, it was the PLAYERS who were depressed and demoralized by this tandem sequence, which showed in such outings as the WSU game in Corvallis and UCLA in the Rose Bowl in ’11, Sac. State and Wisconsin last year

  • lovebeaver says:
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    It may or may not be the case that the younger players have bonded strongly, unlike the past few years, but that is not going to bring us success. The problem lies in our inept assistant coaches, particularly Danny Langsdorf filling the role of offensive coordinator. He lacks the knowledge and experience in developing a modern offensive scheme, as will as coming up with the right play calls in tight situations. Also Banker lacks the knowledge of stopping modern day spread offenses. Until we obtain a new coach with a top notch group of young assistants who understand 21st century football we are going to stuck in mediocrity, or worse.

    • angry angry says:
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      Riley has called plays during fall camp. He’ll likely call plays all season, too. Seems like Langsdork got a demotion in responsibilities, if not title.

      Beavs biggest problem this year is depth. Banker is also a major problem.

      • WFO WFO says:
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        Langsdorf is a quality QB coach,let him focus on that.

        • bone says:
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          Langs had a couple good years calling plays. but both him and Banker took complete nose dives.

          • Beavergopher Beavergopher says:
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            He had Canfield completing a ton of improbable third and longs in 09. Skewed the stats. No money senior in ’10 and the play calling was exposed.

          • bone says:
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            Langs called the play, Canfield executed them. That years offense was very balanced and had a lot of talent. And they made the coaches look good, which happens for most winning teams.

          • WFO WFO says:
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            Yeah it was all Canfield the short yardage dumpoff master making it happen then. Dude was really in tune with how little time he was gonna have and where his outlets were.

          • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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            Then what happened? Why did they go to play calling that the cheer leaders could predict?

            Had they recruited playters so freakin dense they couldnt remember but a few plays?

            And why in hell didnt Riley see this and care about it? Bring in a laptop with a random number generator on it, and use that.

          • bone says:
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            Steve, I wish I knew the answers to those questions. I have some thoughts about why the difference between the Langsdorf of 09 and the Langsdorf we have now. For one it helped having Canfield who was a 5th year senior with plenty of game experience, as WFO mention he was the master of the dumpofff pass, Quizz was second in conference in receptions, which help keep drives going. And our offense hasn’t been as balanced. The team has not been able to run the way they did like in 09 and years prior to that.

      • Jack says:
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        Don’t feed the troll.

  • Jack says:
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    I blame Dylan Wynn and Terron Ward. Those two come from a high school program which accepts failure at the same rate oil accepts water.

    And they prove every day that their hard work trumps the mythical (or not so mythical at OSU) canard that experience trumps hard work, skill and hard work. Logging mediocre time isn’t enough. Logging hard work is where it’s at. Mannion and Vaz spent time with their receivers all summer, and it’s showing. Go figure.

    I visited the campus and toured the SPC over the summer. And I saw many athletes from many different sports dedicating themselves to this strange phenomenon called hard work. Not least among them were football players.

    These things are noticed by coaches as well as any of us casual observers. And I don’t think the coaches are immune to the contagious effects of hard work.

    I just wish they would take it on the road with them for recruiting purposes.

    • Jack says:
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      Btw… an old navy buddy has finally convinced me that using the term “canard” is worthy of Nikegon. He’s a crusty old salt, but he thinks using a word for “lying” fits well with their existence.

      The Nikegon Canards.

      Sounds good to me.

      • oneoldbeav says:
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        Makes sense given the origin of the word:

        canard |k??när(d)|
        noun
        1 an unfounded rumor or story : the old canard that LA is a cultural wasteland.
        2 a small winglike projection attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing to provide extra stability or control, sometimes replacing the tail.
        ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from French, literally ‘duck,’ also ‘hoax,’ from Old French caner ‘to quack.’

        • JD says:
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          Thanks for the complete definition, I only knew the word from #2 above. This is why I enjoy this site, I always learn something new.

  • Jack says:
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    I feel a commit coming on. It’s just one of those days.

  • Jack says:
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    Also… OT… AJ Lapray will be staying at Sprague for his senior year.

    I’m hoping this is good news for the future. I’m dying to see this kid in orange and black.

  • JD says:
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    http://youtu.be/1-51LSBrc7s

    Another OT but this upcoming basketball season has me excited to be a Beav. The video is a little long but well worth it imho.

  • aicandme aicandme says:
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    I’m counting 11 scholarship players this year and with 2 seniors, Burton and Brandt, graduating, this will leave us with 4 available scholarships. Am I wrong in my math here? Does coach Rob take 4 players in 2013?

    • Bill says:
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      If he finds the right ones, yes he would use all available scholarships. He did so back in his first year, when he had 5 to offer and landed Brandt, Nelson, Murphy, Burton and Cunningham.

    • Jack says:
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      Agree with Bill. He’ll take four if he can get the right four. Westbrook and N’Diaye are a great start. G/W/PF are the targets to fill in the other two slots. Also, never count out attrition. If Berto breaks out big time (not saying he will… but if…) then he might move on too. He’s been here long enough to graduate, and that’s a track not failed since Coach Rob has been here.

  • beavers4life says:
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    The main logo at reser is the angry beaver logo. My guess is that tinker will have a completely different logo next season because they probably aren’t going to use the OS logo anymore.

  • bone says:
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    http://videos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2012/08/blake_and_the_beavers_brandin.html

    Better reporter than Lindsay for sure.

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