Friday, September 4, 2009

Blount can dish it, can't take it

While the Oregon/Boise State game certainly didn't deliver the offensive fireworks many hoped for, the bad blood between the teams boiled up in the post-game celebration. Earlier this week, Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount ran his mouth this week about owing Boise State and "ass-whooping" after last year's Bronco win in Autzen Stadium. Even the pre-game handshake went off without a hitch.

Once the game started, the Broncos thoroughly dominated the Ducks, including holding Blount to -5 yds on 8 carries. As a team, the Ducks (under new head coach and alleged offensive mastermind Chip Kelly) mustered just 152 total yds and controlled ball for less than 18 minutes of the game. It was an utter embarrassment for a team some though might challenge USC and Cal for the PAC-10 title this season. Frustrations came to a head when BSU sophomore DE Byron Hout taunted Blount, who quickly retaliated with a sucker punch when Hout turned away. The celebratory dance after the punch only made it worse. Blount was literally dragged off the field by coaches, teammates, and security personnel as he was taunted by the Boise State student section on the way to the tunnel.

In a perfect world, Hout wouldn't have dance up to Blount and said whatever he said, most likely something along the lines of "How'd that ass-whoopin' work out for you there, buddy?" But he did, and as a coach-proclaimed "more mature player,"the onus falls on Blount to be the better man, which he obviously wasn't. If you're going to talk tough before the game, you've got to be able to take it back after the game, particularly if you do nothing in the game.

In my view, Hout should receive the same punishment that Blount does from the NCAA. Hout initiated the physical contact. The Boise players basically surrounded the Oregon offense as the clock ticked to 0:00, exacerbating an already tense situation.

To Blount's credit, he did calm down enough to issue this apology:
"I just apologize to anyone watching that," Blount said. "I just apologize to all of our fans and all of Boise's fans. That's something I shouldn't have done. I lost my head."
But it's too little too late. He talked smacked, fell flat on his face, and lashed out by suckerpunching the first someone who brought it up. Emotions run high, particularly in a grudge match like that, but the best players channel that emotion positively on the field. Blount let it get the best of him.

He hurt his team last night with a poor on-field performance, embarrassed himself and his team with his post-game antics, and will now be a major distraction to a seemingly fragile Ducks team as the NCAA and HC Kelly will have to decide how to punish him. Based on his spotted history at Oregon and his reprehensible behavior last night, I don't know how Kelly keeps him on the team.

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