Another game against college football's elite, another Oregon loss. I don't think there's a lot of shame in losing to great teams, but even by Chip Kelly's own admission, the Ducks aren't quite at that top tier yet.
What makes last night frustrating is that the Ducks competed well for much of the game. They led for large stretches, and if you looked at the box score, you would assume it had been a fairly even game. But penalties and turnovers turned a close game into a rout.
Watching the game, it was clear that the Ducks were a young team. There was little consistency for the offense, and small mistakes were made that more experienced players simply don't make. Two examples stick out in particular. The first, and most obvious were the fumbles by De'Anthony Thomas. He is going to be a very good football player, but it was clear he wasn't used to the speed of the college game, and that resulted in those fumbles.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Terrance Mitchell made some good plays, but he came through Rueben Randle on a 3rd and goal to set up a Tiger touchdown. He also gave up a touchdown to Randle earlier in the game on a very similar play. Mitchell was in pretty good position both times, but it's tough to make those plays when you've never been in that situation.
I have no doubt that both players will learn from these mistakes. They are both very talented, and we will see them do some great things this season.
Unfortunately in this game, the experienced Oregon players weren't helping things. Kenjon Barner fumbled yet another punt return. This is his third year at Oregon, and how many punts or kickoffs has he fumbled? There are no excuses any more. Eddie Pleasant gave up a 3rd down pass, and then was called for a pass interference penalty to set up the Tigers' first offensive touchdown.
I think Hronnis Grassu put it well:
I really think we stopped ourselves. They are a very talented team but I felt like if we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot so many times we could have overcome them and gotten that W.
Let's give LSU all the credit. They are a great football team, with more talent than any team the Ducks will face this season. At the very least, this game should have come down to the final minutes. Unfortunately, Oregon's continual mistakes stopped that from happening.
The good news is that all of these things are fixable. The Ducks will move on and get better, and there were many reasons to be optimistic from last night. The front 7 is the real deal. The offensive line was not great, but was far from a disaster.
Last night was tough, but it's great to have football back. And in 6 days, the Ducks will take on Nevada in Autzen.