DUCKS 42 - BRUINS 21
The Oregon Ducks have earned their sixth win and are now bowl eligible. In Mario Cristobal’s first season that is an achievement worth celebrating, and then the second they’re done with that the team needs to go straight to the film room and learn from this chaotic mess of a blowout victory.
Still, there were plenty of highlight moments in Chip Kelly’s return to Autzen Stadium: Ugochukwu Amadi had a 44-yard punt return for a touchdown, Jevon Holland killed the Bruins early momentum with an interception in the end zone, punter Blake Maimone threw a 28-yard pass on a trick field goal, and a handful of other incredibly successful plays.
Those who missed watching this game, don’t be fooled by the score. The Ducks were certainly the better team but being better than this UCLA team may not actually be that much of a compliment.
Justin Herbert: 18/32 - 264 YDS - 2 TD
Blake Maimone: 1/1 - 28 YDS
Duck fans were relieved to hear that Justin Herbert and his number one target Dillon Mitchell had passed concussion protocol and would play in the game. Herbert seemed much more comfortable back in his hometown, though his accuracy was a little off, and it certainly helped that the Ducks’ special teams were responsible for the first two scores of the game.
After being held to a punt on the opening drive the Ducks were able to return the favor and then some with Amadi’s scoring punt return. Then, after Holland’s interception, Maimone’s trick pass to Jacob Breeland got the ball on the 1-yard line.
Herbert scored twice and didn’t turn the ball over. Once again, it was clear that Mitchell was his clear favorite receiver, but even though the Bruins knew they needed to focus on limiting Mitchell it didn’t seem to matter.
Dillon Mitchell: 8 rec - 156 YDS - 2 TD
Jacob Breeland: 2 rec - 61 YDS
CJ Verdell: 4 rec - 38 YDS
Brenden Schooler: 3 rec - 26 YDS
Travis Dye: 1 rec - 7 YDS
Jaylon Redd: 1 rec - 4 YDS
Mitchell was once again the most productive receiver of the bunch, but Jacob Breeland’s pair of receptions were certainly noteworthy. CJ Verdell also had a couple of good catches.
It appears this unit is best when it targets Mitchell primarily with a healthy dose of passes to a tight end or Verdell in open space and not when the ball is spread between the receivers, who have trouble getting open. Breeland especially seems like a passing outlet that is begging to be utilized more often.
CJ Verdell: 25 car - 90 YDS - 1 TD
Tony Brooks-James: 5 car - 73 YDS - 1 TD
Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 5 car - 20 YDS - 1 TD
Travis Dye: 5 car - 12 YDS
Justin Herbert: 1 car - 4 YDS
Braxton Burmeister: 1 car - 1 YD
Verdell often failed to pick up the three to four yard runs this offense feeds off, but he did string together enough mid-range runs to keep his average at 3.6 yards a carry. He was a little shook up in the second half, which resulted in Travis Dye, Tony Brooks-James and Cyrus Habibi-Likio receiving some touches.
Brooks-James had a game clinching 54-yard touchdown run that made you ask why he wasn’t the starter, until you remembered his fumble in the second quarter that luckily fell out of bounds. To be fair, he was also responsible for jumping on the ball when UCLA fumbled a punt to start the second quarter.
Fans were also lucky enough to see the touchdown closer, Habibi-Likio. Once again, he made short work of the goal line touchdown and even busted out a few runs in garbage time.
Oregon’s rushing game is still adjusting to the loss of Penei Sewell, the freshman phenom’s presence gave the Ducks’ offense the extra push they needed for a power run philosophy.
And now that Jake Hanson will miss the first half of next week’s game due to a targeting call (thought I’d just pepper that little fun fact in there) it’s likely that Oregon’s rushing woes will not improve against Utah.
UCLA had the offense to make this game interesting, but a combination of penalties, turnovers and special teams blunders resulted in another Bruin blowout.
Wilton Speight: 13/25 - 147 YDS - 1 TD
Dorian Thompson-Robinson: 9/23 - 135 YDS - 1 TD - 1 INT
Stefan Flintoft: 1/1 - 15 YDS
Joshua Kelley: 26 car - 161 YDS - 1 TD
Caleb Wilson: 2 rec - 75 YDS - 1 TD
Theo Howard: 5 rec - 69 YDS - 1 TD
Adarius Pickett: 11 tackles
There was no way around it, the return of Chip Kelly to Autzen was a big moment for Oregon fans. The crowd gave him a loud cheer when his name was announced and footage of Kelly making the rounds before the game felt like a college reunion, though now it’s one I bet he would like to forget.
Kelly suffered only his third loss ever at Autzen Stadium and now has three conference losses- the same amount he had in his entire four-year head coaching career at Oregon. Kelly inherited a mishmash of talent and everyone who’s paying attention knows that it’ll take some time for him to establish a system.
Still, Kelly frequently looked flustered with his players as they choked away opportunities to keep the game close- including but not limited to dropped passes, bad throws, a missed field goal, a fumble, a dropped punt and penalties (of which they had 11 for 64 yards compared to Oregon’s 1 for 15 yards).
The Bruins’ horrendous special teams play is truly what put this game out of reach. Amadi’s touchdown off the punt return was one of three game-changing kick related blunders.
The second occurred when Adarius Pickett fumbled a punt on the UCLA 11-yard line, setting up Oregon with a short field that they would take full advantage of.
Then, After Oregon missed a field goal late in the second quarter, Thompson-Robinson got his team to within a long field goal range in an attempt to cut into the Ducks’ 14-point lead and close out the half, but a false start made it a 56-yard attempt that proved just barely out of the range of JJ Molson.
But, hey, at least Joshua Kelley looked good.
UCLA PASSING: 297 YDS - 2 TDS
UCLA RUSHING: 199 YDS - 1 TD
TURNOVERS: Bruins 3 - Ducks 0
Let’s start with the good: The Ducks held a team to 21 points, won the turnover battle, and had a handful of impressive plays including Justin Hollins sack, fumble recovery and near score.
Now the bad: Oregon allowed 496 yards of offense. Troy Dye’s mistake while in cover zero put Caleb Wilson in a position to catch an easy 63-yard touchdown to make it a 7-21 game. Then, after Habibi-Likio put the Ducks up 28-7, Joshua Kelley was able to make it a two score game again with a 25-yard touchdown run.
This blowout would have been a lot more satisfying if the defense would have been able to prevent UCLA’s few explosive plays, and halted some of their long drives once Speight entered the game. And much of the Ducks success in this game felt handed to them by the Bruins and not exactly earned.
ALL-GANG GREEN TEAM
- Troy Dye - Had a few mental errors but finished with 10 tackles.
- Jevon Holland - The freshman continues to impress, this time with an interception in the end zone.
- Justin Hollins - Was so close topulling a Tony Washington during Jameis Winston’s infamous Rose Bowl fumble.
- Ugochukwu Amadi - Deserves praise for his defensive play as well as special teams performance.
Travis Dye, Jordon Scott and CJ Verdell were all shaken up at some point in the game, though none of it looked too serious. Justin Hollins also took a hard hit and was injured, though we don’t know to what extent.