Monthly Archives: August 2008

A win is a win. Does that comfort PSU fans?

Vikings stud Bobby McClintock dives for the endzone.

Vikings stud Bobby McClintock dives for the endzone.

Wow that was ugleeeee! Portland State kicked off its second season under Jerry Glanville with a 31-14 win over Division II bully Western Oregon. Overall, it was a pretty disheartening win, if such a thing exists. The Vikings had three times as many penalty yards as rushing yards and spent the entire first half looking confused, disinterested and finally, just plain frustrated. Vikings starting QB Tygue Howland didn’t even last a half. Many of the others looked as if they wished they could join him on the sidelines.

After skulking back to the locker room with a tenuous 7-0 lead, the Vikings let back-up QB Drew Hubel (he of the 9 TD performance against Weber State last year) take the reins, and the kid did alright. He went 28-40 with 305 yards and a pick, and did enough to matriculate the ball into the redzone, which is where bruising Bobby McClintock took over and punched in three second-half TDs to go along with his first-quarter score.

Let’s be clear, Vikings: play this way against UC Davis in two weeks and risk being absolutely embarrassed. There’s lots wrong, starting with the team’s mental discipline and ending with the brewing quarterback controversy. Personally, I don’t see that there’s even a real choice—Tygue Howland is through, which is sad because the dude’s only played in four career games.

But if the Vikings think they have a real shot at doing ANYTHING productive this year, then they must let Hubel continue to start. The offense looked crisper and much more comfortable with him behind center. I was on the field to snap some shots, and I could hear no panic in Hubel’s voice as he directed four workmanlike second-half scoring drives. Howland is probably going to have to Tonya Harding Hubel if he hopes to reclaim his starting role. One guy got the job done. The other guy didn’t. Sorrrrry.

The Vikings take next week off then travel to Davis, California. They are 1-0. Enjoy it.

Back at it

Former PSU star Shaun Bodiford.

Former PSU star Shaun Bodiford.

Portland, Ore. – Standing composed and confident on the Stott Community Field following Portland State’s short walk-through Friday morning, the glimmering smile on Tygue Howland’s face was tough to miss.

The beaming grin that the junior quarterback owned followed a few short words that encapsulate his more than three years in the South Park Blocks.

“I’ve been waiting three years for this,” Howland said.

The this Howland is referring to is, of course, the Vikings’ matchup with Western Oregon Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at PGE Park.

The Vikings are back in action Saturday afternoon with a must-win matchup against Western Oregon to kick off the 2008 season. Vanguard beat writer Nate Hellman has the scoop, which apparently is that Vikings starting QB Tygue Howland still has a lot he must prove, especially since he’s only thrown 13 completions in just three career games.

If you’re a Vikings fan, that isn’t heartening news. I’m not usually a hater, but there are few things that cause me more pessimism than Portland State football. We all know Jerry Glanville isn’t going to put a decent team on the field until at least next year, and we all know that there are huge problems with everything from the O-line to the itty-bitty running backs that Mouse Davis is trying to turn into receivers.

The Oregonian picked the Vikings to go 5-6 this year. They’re going to be lucky if they win four games, and that is being generous. Let me put it this way: lose THIS game, and the program will be destroyed for years to come. Actually, I think Vanguard sports editor Skyler Archibald put it this way: lose this game and it will literally ruin your program for a bit. Agreed.

Beat Western Oregon, then we’ll worry about confidence and dreams fulfilled. If Howland can keep his knees intact, that’ll be a victory in itself.

Note: The dude about to score a TD is former Vikings player Shaun Bodiford, a good guy with a motor mouth who is now, I believe, a kick returner and wide out with the Green Bay Packers.

Last images of the Duck

The Big Man, the day of his death.

The Big Man, the day of his death.

The Blazers sent these pics of Kevin Duckworth to Vanguard sports editor Skyler Archibald, who hooked up the Beer Garden. These were taken on Monday, just hours before his death. They are a fascinating glimpse into what Blazers media wiz Bill Evans calls “the essence of the man we knew.”

The Blazers are hosting a memorial service at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday morning starting at 11 a.m.  Parking at the Rose Garden will be free to the public. Come pay your last respects to a local legend. The Beer Garden will have a report from the service.

Doing what he loved best.

Doing what he loved best.


Dude, is it worth the rest of your career?

Shawne Merriman risks it all. Stay tuned.

So get this. Shawne Merriman, he of two ligament tears in the same knee, has decided to play this year instead of opt for season-ending (and possibly career-saving) surgery. My buddy Swan is a huge Chargers fan, and I know this thickheaded decision strikes fear into his heart. Merriman has virtually no reason to play this year, other than that doctors haven’t forbade him to in the strictest of terms, and he doesn’t want to miss out in case his buddies make it to the Super Bowl.

And I do mean in case. The mighty AFC has plenty of contenders, not least of which is last year’s runners up—and the Patriots will be looking to exact revenge on the rest of the league for the insult of 18-1. Hey Shawne, doesn’t it make more sense just to sit this one out, get healthy, and avoid the wrath of a fired up New England team? No?

I think we can all see how this is going to end for Merriman. It ends with him writhing around on the ground clutching his left knee after a tackle. It ends with him getting carted off the field. It ends with season-ending surgery. It could end his career, but Merriman needs to wake up, for his own sake, and realize that it must end here. Get the surgery, protect your team’s investment in you and your own ability to make a living (what else are you good at, bro?) and come back for 2009. No one will think less of you, unless you get hurt so badly that 40 career sacks in three seasons means nothing more than wasted potential.

Sad day for Blazers fans

Kevin Duckworth. Seeya later on down the road.

Kevin Duckworth. Seeya later on down the road.

Sad news, as most of you have probably heard: Kevin Duckworth is dead, after suffering congestive heart failure. Too bad, because the Duck was one of the true characters from those early ’90s teams. He was also a key component of their success during the Blazers’ two runs to the NBA Finals, one year averaging 18 points and eight boards a game. Duck was a big, sweet-natured man who never wanted to leave Portland and never stopped loving the Trail Blazers.

Not that you couldn’t see Duckworth’s death coming from miles away. I saw Duckworth last November at a Detroit Pistons game. Like many retired pro athletes, Duck didn’t much resemble the man he was during his playing days. He’d gained a lot of weight and was literally wide as a truck, but he’d remained active with the Blazers, supporting them in the community with a smile and stories from the glory days of Rip City. That’s what he was doing on the Oregon Coast when he died.

But that fall night last year he was at the Rose Garden there to be honored alongside former teammates Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler and Jerome Kersey during a halftime ceremony. I was there covering the game for the Vanguard and had a chance to speak with Duckworth.

It had been a particularly cold fall night, and I remember entering the media room with a chill. The Glide sat at a table in the front of the buffet line, TV lights shining on his bald head. He conducted court, smiling, regal. Drexler owns this city, and he owns the Portland media especially. As they fawned over their returning hero, Kevin Duckworth sat on a painfully small chair and dabbed at the beads of glistening sweat collecting on his brow.

“How’s it going, Duck?” I asked, trying to be casual.

“Going good,” he wheezed in a surprisingly soft voice. “Going good.”

I introduced myself and asked him a couple of questions. He was excited to be back. He loved the Blazers and the fans. Standard stuff, but I could tell something was wrong. Duck was really laboring, even a year ago.

I said goodbye and thanked him for his time. He thanked me for speaking with him, which I thought was odd. He seemed genuinely appreciative.

In case you need some proof that I don’t just have a wild imagination, some photographic evidence below. The Glide in all his glory, sitting at the press conference table.

The Glide last November.

The Glide last November.

Happy trails to Nate Costa

Seeya, Nate! Justin Roper gets the start this Saturday.

Seeya, Nate! Justin Roper gets the start this Saturday.

Eugene, Ore. – For having lost their starting quarterback for at least the majority of the season, the Oregon Ducks weren’t exactly panicking Monday, five days from their season opener.

“I’m a wily, experienced veteran when it comes to losing quarterbacks,” joked offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, who lost his top four last season.

One down already.

On Monday, Oregon announced that Nate Costa, the presumed starter despite a late push from Justin Roper, will undergo surgery and miss at least 8 to 10 weeks because of cartilage damage in his surgically repaired left knee. Roper will start Saturday against Washington.

Uh oh. Looks like the injury bug that feasted on duck last year is at it again, this time knocking out Oregon starting QB Nate Costa for two months. Well, Costa wasn’t going to be Dennis Dixon, but it is disheartening to be down your starter before opening day, especially for a team still shocked over how quickly last season fell apart.

Gotta love how upbeat Costa is being. Kid is really taking it well. Costa is planning to “coach up” Justin Roper on the sidelines in hope that he’ll throw a touchdown. Something good is going to come of this, he says. Ummm, yeah dude. Just not for you. At least the Ducks get to warm up against the toothless Huskies before heading to more dangerous waters.

And only two people died…

Some old lady's home used to be there.

Some old lady's home used to be there.

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics are officially over. And the USA won the medal count, but it was the Chinese who came away looking golden, with 51 gold medals. We’ll all remember Michael Phelps winning eight golds and shattering records, the Redeem Team getting to stamp Mission Accomplished on their marching orders, and a certain lightning Bolt, who came out of nowhere to claim the title of fastest man to ever live.

But we should also remember that these Olympics also cost two people their lives, and that the China we all saw on NBC’s nonstop coverage is not the China that its billion citizens experience each day. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad more people didn’t get hurt. Maybe that sounds glib, but probably not to Hugh McCutcheon.