DUCKS 58 - FALCONS 24
Mario Cristobal has passed his first test at Autzen.
Things started off a bit rocky at first. After two quick back-to-back punts, the Ducks fell behind Bowling Green, 10-0. The Falcons scored on two 10-play drives; first a 36-yard field goal then a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jarret Doege.
However, like many games in week one, the favored home team eventually woke up and responded with an offensive barrage. The Ducks effectively put the game away by scoring 37 unanswered points, beginning at the end of the first quarter and ending right before the half, but the Falcons continued to fight til the end.
The Ducks were clearly trying out a new offense, and when the pistol worked it worked well, and when it didn’t, Herbert was left facing the wrong way with the ball in his hands. One of the most impressive stats is that Oregon only committed three penalties, none of which were due to the offensive line, something that plagued last year’s team.
Oregon broke even on turnovers at three apiece; creating turnovers through aggressive defense and impressive athleticism, and committing them by being unprepared and clumsy.
HIGHLIGHT | One drive after grabbing a pick six, Amadi ends another BGSU drive with a sack! #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/Lqo3G7UUuB— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) September 2, 2018
To the surprise of no one, Justin Herbert was the star of the show. He was responsible for six total touchdowns, as well as 281 passing yards and 41 on the ground. Burmeister was brought in during the third quarter, but was replaced with Herbert after going three-and-out. He would later come back in during true garbage time, but Burmeister’s short leash raises a lot of questions about his ability to play backup.
Justin Herbert: 10/21 - 281 YDS - 5 TD - 2 INT
Braxton Burmeister: 1/5 - 11 YDS
All six of Justin Herbert's touchdowns in tonight's win over Bowling Green. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/F9JObKuixP— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) September 2, 2018
Herbert also had two interceptions, both due to missed connections with Jaylon Redd. Johnny Johnson III and Redd both dropped potential touchdown passes (as well as a few other passes) but made up for it with impressive scores: Johnson III caught a bullet from Herbert and forced his way through three defenders for the score, and Redd caught two deep balls in the end zone.
Dillon Mitchell also caught a touchdown, though Taj Griffin led all pass-catchers with his 83-yard touchdown off of a screen, the senior’s only reception. One of the major questions coming into the season was ‘who would catch Herbert’s awesome throws?’ The answer is less clear than ever, and that’s a little bit frightening.
Taj Griffin: 1 rec - 83 yds - 1 TD
Jaylon Redd: 2 rec - 81 yds - 2 TD
Tony Brooks-James: 1 rec - 53 yds
Johnny Johnson III: 1 rec - 40 yds - 1 TD
Dillon Mitchell: 3 rec - 26 yds - 1 TD
Kano Dillon: 1 rec - 6 yds
Jacob Breeland: 1 rec - 5 yds
Cam McCormick: 1 rec - (-2 yds)
It was well known that Cristobal was planning on using a running back by committee approach, slightly favoring senior Tony Brooks-James, but this game felt much more like a tryout- and the tryout seemed inconclusive.
Out of the six running backs who saw playing time, only one scored a rushing touchdown- Redshirt Freshman Cyrus Habibi-Likio, his only carry of the game. Brooks-James got the start, but Redshirt Freshman CJ Verdell got the most carries and most yards, and Herbert got the second most. Travis Dye, Darrian Felix, and Taj Griffin also received touches.
CJ Verdell: 13 car -51 yds
Justin Herbert: 6 car -41 yds - 1 TD
Darrian Felix: 8 car -31 yds
Travis Dye: 7 car - 37 yds
Tony Brooks-James: 5 car - 27 yds
Braxton Burmeister: 1 car - 9 yds
Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 1 car - 5 yds - 1 TD
Taj Griffin: 1 car - 4 yds
It’s fair to say that more was expected from the Oregon defense, now that Jim Leavitt is in his magic second year. Credit has to go to Bowling Green’s fantastic offensive talent: QB Jarret Doege, RB Andrew Clair, and WR Scott Miller. These three consistently earned hard-fought first downs.
Jarret Doege: 22/38 - 253 yds - 3TD - 2 int
Andrew Clair: 25 car - 113 yds
Scott Miller: 13 rec - 166 yds - 2 TD
Still, the defense had quite a few moments of excellence, particularly Ugochukwu Amadi. The senior played at a high level, and conducted himself like an assistant coach, especially on special teams. Amadi had a pick-six, a sack, and five tackles.
Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins were very successful disrupting the backfield and pressuring Doege, recording nine and seven tackles respectively. Jordon Scott was also a constant source of havoc, with seven tackles in limited minutes. Troy Dye provided a highlight interception, making up for a dropped one, and trailed only Jelks in tackles with eight.
HIGHLIGHT | Troy Dye makes a fantastic sideline interception. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/xCIt1PVB20— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) September 2, 2018
La’mar Winston Jr., Jordon Scott, Jalen Jelks and Cam McCormick all appeared to be injured at different points in the game. Scott returned to the game with a clubbed hand, Jelks left late in the game, McCormick and Winston Jr. did not return.
Overall, it was a good showing by Oregon, but there was a lot to fix before conference play starts. Perhaps Willie Taggart’s 77-point debut at Oregon has jaded duck fans from appreciating Cristobal’s impressive offensive showing (504 yards of offense, 292 passing, 212 rushing). It was clear by the expressions on the sidelines that the team expected more from themselves even in a blowout victory, and that could be a very good sign of things to come this early in the season.