It's not often that a 23 point victory can be view as "disappointing," and while I won't quite that far, it sure seems like the Ducks left a lot on the field. They turned the ball over twice, which led to 14 of ASU's 21 points. They allowed a QB getting his first significant playing time to complete some big 3rd downs after getting outside the pocket. They struggled to stop the run during a couple of drives. Jeremiah Masoli struggled with his accuracy in the second half.
But, beyond the many mistakes, the Ducks looked dominant when they wanted to, led 31-7 at the half, and controlled the game after scoring on their first drive, something which they have been very poor at throughout the year.
So, with the game in hand, I was watching this game with an eye towards the Arizona and OSU games. And, though I have some concerns, what I saw this weekend made me feel much better.
First, Jacquizz Rodgers will give our defense fits, and will get a lot of yards after initial contact. The Ducks had trouble stopping Dimitri Nance at times, and he gained a number of yards after initial contact. Quizz will do the same. However, the speed of the Ducks defense gives the Ducks the ability to get quick penetration into the backfield, and I believe the Ducks will be able to get enough pressure at times to force OSU into 2nd and 3rd and long situations. At least, I hope that's the case.
The Oregon front 7 was able to get pressure on the ASU quarterbacks. Unfortunately, due to Samson Szakacsy's speed, he was able to neutralize that pressure. The Ducks, after struggling to create pressure against the two best offensive line's in the conference, notched two sacks, and pressured the QBs multiple times. In the next two games, the Ducks will face offenses that will be susceptible to pressure. OSU has done a very poor job of protecting the QB all year, and Arizona gave up 3 sacks against Cal, nearly doubling the number of sacks they've given up all year. Also, Arizona, up until this week, had not faced the top 5 pass rushes in the Pac-10, so their numbers are skewed. The greatest problem for the Ducks when they faced Stanford was the lack of any pressure on Andrew Luck. I don't forsee a similar problem in the last two games of the season. It's also important that niether Sean Canfield nor Foles have the scrambling ability that gave Oregon fits last night.
While the secondary took a beating last week, they played very well this week. Talmadge Jackson III is proving to be a very good CB, especially on deep passes. Cliff Harris almost had his 2nd interception as a Duck, and the safety play was back to what we expect, after a very poor showing against Stanford.
Offensively, we have one of the best running backs in the nation in LaMichael James. I've run out of words for him. He simply makes amazing plays every single week. The Oregon offensive line dominated the top rushing defense in the conference, and Oregon steamrolled it's way to 250+ rushing yards.
Passing the ball, Oregon had a good but not great game. However, Masoli and the Duck receivers have done a great job of finding holes in the zones. Masoli's accuracy problems notwithstanding, he had a great touchdown pass to Jeff Maehl. One thing that has been missing from Oregon's offense is the deep threat, and we have seen flashes of it over the last three games, which is a great sign for the offense in general.
I still don't see how Arizona or Oregon State will slow down the Ducks offense. They haven't been held below 40 points with Masoli at the helm in Pac-10 play. As long as the Ducks don't turn the ball over, the offense should be pretty much unstoppable.
So, what'd you guys take from the game? What concerned you? What gave you hope? Either way, it's good to wash away the taste of the Stanford game with a win. GO DUCKS!