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Oregon Defense Proves Merit in Stanford Win

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Damn, that felt good!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Oregon at Stanford Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA

DUCKS 21 - CARDINAL 6

The Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0) served the Stanford Cardinal (1-3, 0-2) a cold plate of revenge in the form of a 21 to 6 loss at home. After losing in dramatic fashion at Autzen last season, the Ducks have exorcised their road demons with a crucial victory.

Plenty of Ducks are worthy of the game ball (Justin Herbert, Thomas Graham Jr., Jacob Breeland to name a few), but at the end of the day punter Blake Maimone is most deserving of the pigskin reward.

In a game that featured some spectacular Oregon defense and just enough Oregon offense to put away the Cardinal, Maimone’s golden leg regularly placed Stanford in terrible field condition which ultimately made everything easier for the Ducks. The senior punter had six punts against Stanford; all but one of them resulted in Stanford starting behind their own 13-yard line and two of them had the Cardinal beginning a drive at the eight.

It’s clear Oregon needs to find some more explosive plays on offense if they wish to become an elite team, but as of now they have a top-tier defense and a Heisman caliber quarterback, which could result in an impressive conference showing.


OREGON PASSING

Justin Herbert: 19/24 - 258 YDS - 3 TD

Oregon’s starting quarterback was accurate, collected and lethal; basically, he lived up to his colossal preseason hype. Justin Herbert was responsible for all three of Oregon’s scores and kept calm behind an offensive line that was forced into some changes.

Starting center Jake Hanson missed the game due to an unspecified injury suffered against Montana, which meant right tackle Calvin Throckmorton switched to fill the void and Brady Aiello returned to the line to take Throckmorton’s former spot. The Ducks allowed four sacks and seven tackles for a loss, a season high in both categories, but were able to maintain a two-score lead for the entire second half.

Herbert has continued to receive improved play from his pass-catchers, though four of his five incompletions were drops. The Oregon fanbase has started to question the reasoning behind Herbert playing the option when it’s become clear to the rest of the PAC that he’ll never keep the ball, however, he’s done everything that Cristobal has asked of him and will likely only get better with the addition of Brenden Schooler, Mycah Pittman and Juwan Johnson to the receiving corps.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Oregon at Stanford Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

OREGON RECEIVING

Jacob Breeland: 5 rec - 78 YDS - 2 TD

Jaylon Redd: 3 rec - 54 YDS - 1 TD

Bryan Addison: 4 rec - 42 YDS

Johnny Johnson III: 3 rec - 41 YDS

Travis Dye: 1 rec - 24 YDS

Spencer Webb: 2 rec - 12 YDS

Josh Delgado: 1 rec - 8 YDS

Jacob Breeland once again had a huge game, scoring two of Oregon’s three touchdowns and finishing with 78 yards, as the tight end has clearly become Herbert’s favorite target. His emergence as a playmaker has become a crucial development for a Duck offense that has at times struggle to find big yardage on the ground.

Redshirt freshman Bryan Addison continues to atone for his dropped touchdown against Auburn, though he still tallied a couple drops against the Cardinal. Addison had two catches of 10-plus yards during Oregon’s second scoring drive and two more catches on their final scoring drive.

Johnny Johnson III and Jaylon Redd contributed good yards but only brought in three receptions apiece. The veteran receivers took part in Oregon’s 2-play, 55-yard touchdown drive, first Johnson III for 19 yards and then Redd with a 36-yard touchdown reception.

Travis Dye, Josh Delgado and Spencer Webb also contributed to the passing attack, though none of these players made a huge impression on the game. Overall, Oregon’s aerial attack seems to be improving and, in fact, could be the main way the Ducks will pick up explosive plays from here on out.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Oregon at Stanford Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

OREGON RUSHING

CJ Verdell: 24 car - 82 YDS

Travis Dye: 1 car - 1 YD

Justin Herbert: 5 car - (-22) YDS

At the beginning of the Cristobal era the Ducks used a slew of running backs in an attempt to discover their workhorse back, now that we’re two years in it has become clear that Verdell has won that job.

The redshirt sophomore has received reduced carries since the Auburn game, most likely due to some undisclosed minor injury or an attempt to preserve his body for PAC-12 play, but was handed all but one carry against Stanford.

His numbers haven’t been eye-popping, and many fans are concerned with the backs’ inability to break through to the next level or find the cutback lanes, but it’s possible if not likely that Cristobal is telling his RBs to run full steam ahead regardless of the other opportunities. It was clear Oregon was more than comfortable sitting on a two-score lead for the majority of the game, which is understandable considering Stanford’s troubled offensive performance. But even a single big run could have put this game out of reach earlier for the Cardinal.

Oregon’s defense looked elite, but we should give the Stanford offense some credit for their inability to move the ball.

Oregon v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

NOTABLE NERDS

KJ Costello: 16/30 - 120 YDS - 1 INT

Cameron Scarlett: 19 car - 97 YDS

Michael Wilson: 5 rec - 61 YDS

Casey Toohill: 8 tackles - 6 solo - 2 sacks - 2 TFL

Andrew Pryts: 8 tackles - 6 solo

Jordan Fox: 8 tackles - 4 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL

First of all, it seemed obvious that Costello is not 100% recovered from his injury at Northwestern. The QB was less accurate and struggled with Oregon’s tenacious defense, and a blow to his right thumb only made things worse for a Cardinal passing game that was only able to muster 120 yards through the air.

Cameron Scarlett was efficient and looked to be Stanford’s best threat, but is clearly a step down from the gamechanging speed of Bryce Love and Christian McCaffrey. Clearly the Stanford defense showed up, especially Casey Toohill and Jordan Fox who each were able to bring down Herbert, but this unit is not talented enough to keep the Cardinal in many games.

So far this has been a disaster season for Stanford and a loss next week to Oregon State could serve as a giant distress beacon. This program needs change from top to bottom as they are no longer dominant in any phase of the game, and the recruiting landscape is rapidly changing around them.

Oregon v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

OREGON DEFENSE

CARDINAL PASSING: 16/30 - 120 YDS - 1 INT

CARDINAL RUSHING: 33 car - 114 YDS

CARDINAL 3RD DOWN: 5 out of 16

TURNOVERS FORCED: Ducks 1 - Cardinal 0

Against Auburn, the Duck D wasn’t able to shutdown the offense for four whole quarters, though they did an admirable job considering it was week one of a new defense in a hostile environment.

Dominant performances against Nevada and Montana didn’t warrant much respect considering the level of opponent, but Oregon’s defense once again destroyed any hope of a miraculous comeback by either team.

And with the 21-6 victory over Stanford, that makes three straight games that the Oregon defense has kept their opponents from scoring a single touchdown (a feat they haven’t achieved since 1935 against Oregon State, Portland and Washington). Andy Avalos has already proven his worth as his multiple defense has stumped their last three opponents heading into the bye.

The veteran Ducks have been a fantastic group to build on and the young-bloods are already making a big impact in a scheme that rewards raw athleticism; Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir are officially shutdown corners, Gus Cumberlander and Drayton Carlberg seem to be peaking at the perfect time, safeties Nick Pickett and Brady Breeze have also steadily improved throughout the season, and Troy Dye appears to be training a suitable replacement in Isaac Slade-Matautia.

Meanwhile, the future of the Avalos defense appears to be in great shape as young returnees Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley have thrived in this aggressive system. Even true freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux and Mase Funa have been able to find meaningful playing time as the defense finds its ideal player rotation.

The Ducks now lead the conference in nearly every major statistic:

  • Pass Defense: 160.0 YDS (18th nationally)
  • Pass Efficiency Defense: 88.24 YDS (6th nationally)
  • Total Defense: 262.8 YDS (13th nationally)
  • Scoring Defense: 10.5 PPG (8th nationally)
  • Sacks: 15 (9th nationally)
  • 3rd Down Defense: 31.3% (9th nationally)
Oregon v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

ALL-GANG GREEN TEAM

  • Thomas Graham Jr.: 9 tackles - 6 solo - 2 PD
  • Jevon Holland: 1 INT - 8 tackles - 5 solo - 1 TFL - 1 PD
  • Gus Cumberlander: 3 tackles - 1 solo - 1.5 sacks - 1.5 TFL
  • Drayton Carlberg: 3 tackles - 2 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL

NEXT UP: BYE

Oregon v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images