If you haven't read it yet, GoDucks editor Rob Moseley breaks down Coach Willie Taggart and his effort to bring 'swag' back to Autzen. If you've been following Coach Willie Taggart since being hired as head coach, you've certainly read time and again that one of his first goals was to change the mindset of his squad.
It wasn't that last year's team was broken, but Coach Taggart saw areas the team could improve upon, include cohesion amongst the entire team, not just individual position groups, having more confidence on the field and on the sidelines, while being more physical - mentally and physically.
All of this sounds good and makes sense, but the mindset shift is key to the success of Oregon Football for two very different reasons.
Mindset Matters For Two Reasons
1. The Current Team
Last year's Oregon Football team earned a 4-8 record. A change in leadership was made, a few players transferred out and there seemed to be nowhere to go but up. But we know that's not the case. A team in a downward spiral often times gets stuck and keeps trending in the wrong direction. To flip that direction takes a mindset shift, one where 4-8 is simply not acceptable.
Coach Taggart and his enthusiastic staff had brought fresh energy to the team. It was clear to see against Southern Utah, as players celebrated big plays, were more physical throughout the game and had plenty of fun on the sidelines. While Southern Utah wasn't the toughest of opponents, the squad showed a level of enthusiasm, drive and energy not seen for some time.
Mindset matters as the season carries on and bringing that same energy game in and game out will keep players focused and driven in challenging and crucial moments.
2. The Future Team
Did you know the Ducks have never had a top-10 recruiting class in the national rankings. Ever. Yet here we are, as the recruiting season heats up, with Oregon ranked in the top ten in all the major recruiting rankings - even holding the top spot in one or two.
Read More: Pac-12 Football Recruiting Rankings (OregonLive)
Recruits, often 16-18 years old, care about who their future coaches and teammates will be. They keep tabs on tweets, videos and other items the top schools recruiting them share out. While it's easy to promote former players in the NFL and the success seen on the field, it's easy to argue that the culture of a program they are stepping into is even more important.
There's a buzz in Eugene, headed up by Coach Taggart, his staff and the player leaders on the team. The buzz is contagious and when a recruit commits to Oregon, it's important the student-athlete becomes infused in that energy and spreads it out themselves - including to future teammate or potential future teammates.
Recruiting is a key pillar to a program's success. If you're record on the field isn't what it used to be, putting a spotlight on the culture, of the mindset, of your program to sell where you are headed becomes of the upmost important.
Oregon Football is going to be fun to follow this fall. No question. Seeing the buzz, energy and mindset everyone involved with the program is starting to spread, well, it is contagious.