Arizona ran 98 plays in the football game. They held the ball for over 40 minutes. They ran 53 plays in the second half alone. They averaged a healthy 5.4 yards per play over the entire game.
On the other hand, Oregon moved the ball very well in the first half, averaging over 11 yards a play. But in the second half, they could barely move the ball, making many drive killing mistakes, and going 3 and out on 4 straight drives. They ran only 23 plays in the second half.
And really, that's the explanation for why this game was so close. I don't think our defense played a bad game. It is what I would expect. But when that type of disparity was present, your defense cannot succeed.
But, looking past that, the offense in the first half was the best we've seen all season. Chip Kelly could do no wrong, as everything was executed to perfection. Masoli had the eye for the spread option. He was hitting every pass perfectly, going down the field to Dickson in the seam, hitting Jaison Williams on the out, and hitting Maehl perfectly in stride multiple times on the run-pass option that they ran well last night. When things did not go right, from slipping down on what would have been a huge 3rd down, to fumbling the ball on big 3rd downs, it wasn't as much due to the Arizona defense, as our own mistakes, which is the story of the offense this season.
On the other side of the ball, the secondary did a very good job most of the game, minus the coverage of Gronkowski, who is one of the best tight ends I've seen in a while. But again, given the circumstances, and the big plays the defense did make, I think they held up well.
Looking forward to the Civil War, Oregon must move the ball with consistency. Even if no points are scored, the 3 play drive must become 6 or 7 play drives. The defense will not hold up well if Oregon goes 3 and out multiple times like it did in the second half yesterday. This has been an achilles heel the last two games, and have led to near-disastrous second halfs.
But this team never gave up, and fought hard. And if we win the Civil War, we'll go to the Holiday Bowl. OSU will have a very, very tough game in the desert next week. If they come through, we'll have the biggest Civil War since 2000. I can't wait.