Among all virtues, consistency is one that is routinely undervalued and overlooked. Despite the fact you can set your watch by it, consistency often takes a back seat to flash and sex appeal. Consistency, however, gives things meaning; setting the standard for what is expected.
In the case of Oregon senior David Paulson, the bar for what is expected out of a Duck tight end these days has been raised to a standard of exceptional consistency.
“D.P. has been one of the most consistent guys all year,” said junior quarterback Darron Thomas, who threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns against the Beavers Saturday. “He’s banged up sometimes, but you wouldn’t even know it. He caught every ball I threw to him, so it was (another) good game for D.P.”
Against arch rival Oregon State in his final regular season home game of his career, Paulson shined on Saturday with a career defining performance: 8 receptions for 105 yards, one touchdown and of course, no drops to speak of -- a Paulson trademark.
“He’s a special player,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly of Paulson. “He doesn’t say anything. He just goes out there and practices every day...It’s the same demeanor, whether he has a 10-catch performance or a zero-catch performance.
“I think he’s our most valuable player in terms of how many things he does for us,” continued Kelly. “He’s really been the guy -- on a team with not a lot of seniors, especially on the offensive side of the ball -- that we’ve leaned on a ton.”
The past few weeks, Paulson’s role has seemingly expanded, demanding the ball much more often due to decidedly lackluster play by wide receivers on the outside this season. In absence of departed senior wideout Jeff Maehl, Paulson has assumed the title of “security blanket” for Thomas; a go-to guy when the Ducks have needed a clutch play through the air.
For Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, the chemistry between Thomas and Paulson has been a major reason the connection between the two has been emboldened as of late.
“Darron and him are developing a nice chemistry,” said Helfrich. It’s so neat for (David), because he’s such a great kid and such a big part of our team...and that doesn’t always show up in receptions.”
Helfrich also remarked that during film study this week leading up to the game against Oregon State, the offensive staff noticed tendencies in the Beaver defense that they believed they could exploit in order for Paulson and fellow tight end Colt Lyerla to have big days catching the football.
“We thought by the way they lined up in certain things that they couldn’t account for both ways, in terms of defending the run or defending the pass,” stated Helfrich.
“It was how they lined up in a couple formations,” Helfrich continued. “Sometimes (the play) was bubble screen type deals and (Paulson) took advantage of it.”
Along with his outstanding performance Saturday afternoon, Oregon’s win over Oregon State marked the school’s fourth straight victory over the Beavers, subsequently giving Paulson a spotless 4-0 record in games he’s appeared in against his neighbors from the North.
“My redshirt year we lost to them and it kind of left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” said Paulson. “But, the next four years we’ve been undefeated (against them) and that’s always good for us and our fans.”
Next week, Paulson and the Ducks’ focus switches to the Pac-12 Championship game and a date with UCLA, who clinched the Pac-12 South division on Friday after Colorado knocked of Utah on the road to earn their first road victory since 2007. Autzen Stadium will play host to the title game, though gears must be shifted quickly, as both the Ducks and the Bruins will only have five off-days to prepare for an outright conference championship and an automatic berth to the Rose Bowl for the winner.
“We’ve got a big game next week and if we win that, it’ll be our third time in a row playing in a BCS bowl game,” said Paulson.
“That’s what you shoot for in college football and we’re on the right track right now.”
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney