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Quick Thoughts on the Utah Game

After having to listen to the game on the radio, I finally watched it last night.  I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to, you could hear the frustration in Jerry Allen’s voice as he called the game.  I was basically expecting our defense to be fantastic and our offense to be the worst thing I’ve ever seen.  It wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t very good, either.  Here are my general thoughts, in a fun, bullet point form:

  • Our receiving corps is terrible.  Holland, Tuinei, and Maehl are all drop city.  Masoli isn’t playing great, or even mediocre by any stretch, but when you look at 4-16 passing, ask yourself how many passes these guys are dropping.  Because its way too many.  Only Ed Dickson is a reliable target right now (and Masoli is barely looking at him).  Of all the players that we’ve lost from last year, we may be missing Terrance Scott the most.  We just have nobody consistent at that position.

  • Now lets talk about Mr. Masoli.  The good news is that he is doing much, much better in the read option.  Both he and LaMichael James were reeling off huge chunks of yardage.  As our offensive line gets better, and LMJ gets the bulk of the carries, our run game will be fine.  But the passing game.  Like I said, the receivers aren’t helping him much, but Masoli isn’t doing the things he needs to be successful.  Namely, he’s not going through his progression.  He’s locking in on one receiver (usually Maehl, his worst), and heaving it in there.  The one pick was an example of this, and he’s probably lucky he didn’t have more.  This needs to change.  Receivers are open and Ed Dickson in particular is being way underutilized.  Masoli’s not playing as badly as many think, he’s looking great in the run game and, if not for the drops, the passing numbers are much more respectable.  But to get back to elite status, this needs to be fixed.

  • The all-time UO career rushing record is 3296 by Derek Loville.  LaMichael James, if he stays healthy, is going to break that.  With his speed, and how hard he hits the hole, he is going to be a VERY special back.

  • Michael Clay got absolutely dominated on the blocked punt.  I have never seen that kind of push, it was as if there was nobody there at all.  Unfortunately, after that block, Jackson Rice rushed every punt thereafter, causing short, wobbly kicks.  I think its freshman nerves, but its something that needs to be addressed.

  • Walter Thurmond is the team MVP thus far.  He was fantastic.  He made a mistake on the fumbled punt, but all his other returns were money.  He just has a special vision that make him an absolute star in the return game.  And defensively, he’s just completely shutting his guy down.  Thurmond is our Superman, and I’m wondering if we shouldn’t line him up as a wideout as well.

  • I can’t say enough about the defense.  If the offense wasn’t getting in the way with the unforced turnovers, this game is blowout city.  The defense was fantastic.  Gave up 3.6 ypc?  Pretty good.  20/42 passing?  Great.  Two picks?  Great.  Six consecutive three and outs in the first half?  I could go on.  The funny thing about the Aliotti defense is that the cornerbacks are so key.  When the corners are horrible, the whole defense falls apart and we all start screaming that we need to fire him.  But when we get special corners that can excel in single coverage?  Those are the years that our defense is really, really good.  And I haven’t seen the Oregon defense play as well as they have in the last two games since the Gang Green years.  We’re stuffing the run, getting pressure on the QB, and shutting down the receivers.  The defense is far more enjoyable to watch than the offense at this point.  But we can’t get where we need to go with the defense carrying the team.  The offense is going to have to step up if we want to compete with the Cals and USCs of the conference.

Lets wrap up our talk of the Utah game and get ready for Cal here.  I have a positive feeling that we’re just about to break through!