The first half game gave us a big scare.
There was once recipe Tennessee could hope to follow to have a chance to beat Oregon. And for almost a half, it worked. Tauren Poole slashed and gashed the Oregon defense for big yards in the power running game. Kenjon Barner coughed up a fumble on a kickoff return and Tennessee had amassed two scoring drives before Oregon ran an offensive snap.
However, the defense was largely able to hold the Volunteers to field goals, and eventually figure out how to shut down Poole and the Volunteer run game. Meanwhile, the Oregon offense was able to get on the field and, after a bit of a slow start, start rolling and wearing out the thin Tennessee defense. By the time the game ended, Oregon had reeled off 45 consecutive points, and Volunteers fans were headed home long before this one was officiallly over.
Darron Thomas, after starting out with an egregiously bad read, found his rhythm passing for 202 yards and two score and running another seven times for 34 yards. LaMichael James made the most of his first game, rushing for 134 yards on 16 carries, not only getting tough yards in the power game, but with a ridiculous Reggie Bush-esque 72 yards TD run. Kenjon Barner had a punt return for a touchdown, and Cliff Harris, making a statement that he should be a starter, had a fantastic game on the corner with a pick six and some truly excellent coverage. After the horrible start, in which the Duck defense looked eerily like New Mexico at times, giving up 198 yards to Tennessee, they responded nicely in only giving up 135 the rest of the game.
There were some issues that Oregon will want to work on before Pac-10 play: problems controlling the power run game, so issues on both lines both with getting push and with penalties (Carson York had three holding penalties), and Darron Thomas is still working on his accuracy (though he had a very good game overall). However, it could be said that going into SEC country and blowing Tennessee out while still having things to work on and keep the team focused is the best possible result in this situation.
All and all, it was a great way to be a Duck. Oregon wins big, and the folks down south have some West Coast speed to think about for awhile.