Dallas — These short takes are presented as a companion to the print column off Media Day doings before the Oregon-Ohio State championship game.
1. Ohio State is working behind a No. 3 quarterback, but Oregon’s the team that’s short-handed. It was revealed Saturday that Darren Carrington, the Ducks’ No. 2 receiver, had been ruled ineligible for Monday’s final. Reports held that Carrington had failed a drug test. Said coach Mark Helfrich, who spent much of his allotted hour refusing to offer much more on the subject: “It is an NCAA policy that’s in play here.” He also said, speaking of replacements: “We have a bunch of highly skilled guys that are very confident in what they’re doing. Marcus (Mariota, the Heisman-winning quarterback) is confident in those guys and we’re confident in those guys.” Still, Oregon was already without cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, an All-American hurt in practice before the Rose Bowl, and another starting receiver in Devon Allen, who was injured on the Rose’s opening kickoff. And Tyler Johnstone, considered its top offensive lineman, hasn’t played this season.
2. For all its speed, Oregon doesn’t consider itself a finesse team. Said Ducks center Hronnis Grasu, quacking over the perception of the team: “You can’t be a finesse team and be able to run the ball on Michigan State and Stanford and UCLA and Utah. These past two games (against UCLA and Florida State), we ran the ball up the middle. You can’t be a finesse team and do that.”
3. For its part, Ohio State doesn’t think Oregon plays all that fast. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Ducks entered the Rose Bowl against Florida State having averaged a snap every 20.2 seconds — and then scored 34 points (six on a return of Jameis Winston’s goofy fumble) in 12:54. But Michael Bennett, a Buckeyes defensive lineman, said: “They don’t go (up-)tempo as much as everybody thinks, but when they do, they’re very effective. When they see a defensive lineman with his hands on his hips, they take advantage.”