Eugene-- As the Oregon Duck defense took the field Saturday morning, there was a noticeable lull in the crowd. After a big victory over Michigan State last weekend the stadium seemed very quiet. There was a lot to be excited about; ex-head coach Mike Belloti was honored before the game and the likes of Fred Jones and Luke Jackson were also in attendance.
The Duck's defense allowed Wyoming to control the whole first quarter. Wyoming held the ball for 10:43 in the first 15 minutes of play and the Cowboy fans had a lot to cheer about during that span. The Cowboys scored on a beautiful fade route that was set up by Wyoming attacking the middle of the field. As Tanner Gentry celebrated with teammates in the corner of the end zone, the visiting fans erupted with applause.
After the first quarter ended momentum suddenly jumped on Oregon's side. Both Jackson and Jones were recognized on the field and it woke the crowd up. As the Oregon fans were still clapping for the basketball stars, quarterback Marcus Mariota scrambled into the end zone for the Ducks and it set the tone as Oregon would score on the next six drives.
The Ducks continued to establish the run game as junior running back Byron Marshall scored on a 30-yard fly sweep that would Oregon the lead for good. Mariota scored on the next drive and will forever be known as the "The Flyin' Hawaiian." The unsung hero of Mariota's second touchdown of the day was senior receiver Keanon Lowe. Lowe sealed his man on the block as Mariota leaped over the senior. After the play his teammates were impressed, but would prefer Mariota not put his body at risk like that again.
"I hope he never does that again," said Lowe. "It was an awesome play though, but I'd rather see him run out of bounds at the 2."
On the defensive side of the ball, Erick Dargan had an incredible performance. He had two interceptions on the day and his second one of the day was a fantastic tip to himself. Dargan was covering two receivers and made a great break on the ball while it was in the air.
"He's [played] exactly how he practices," said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich. "He's had a ton of picks in practice, very similar to his tip, tip play he had today."
In the second half of the game the Ducks pulled away. The defense shutout the Cowboys in the third quarter and the Ducks scored two touchdowns to extend the lead to 41-7. Ex-basketball star Johnathan Loyd scored his first touchdown as a Duck and that was the last bit of excitement in Autzen Stadium before fans started to leave the complex.
"This was my first touchdown in five years and first one at this level with 60,000 behind you. It's a whole different feeling," said Loyd.
The Ducks finished the game off winning 48-14. The Ducks will have their first away game next week as they will travel to Pullman, WA. to open off Pac-12 play.
Once again I got to sit by an NFL scout and here are some take aways:
- Besides Mariota and Ekpre-Olomu, the scouts were very interested in Hroniss Grasu and Jake Fisher.
- Lowe was highly thought of by one and the scout loved his physicality. It isn't realistic to think that Lowe will be drafted in the first few rounds, but what scouts have all said about Lowe is his willingness to block until the play is over.
- Dargan was another player that the scouts were watching. He could be a good contributor on an NFL special teams unit.