No explanation necessary.
This week, Oregon vs. Arizona
Honestly, I was this close to just copying-and-pasting what I wrote last week, because really, little has changed. I mean, WHAT THE F*CK. After the first drive, this team played with all the urgency and passion of a midsummer scrimmage down at the Y. Arizona was said to have a better defense than their 0-3 record showed, but this was still a team that lost to a middling FCS school last week. Against this backdrop, Oregon could only manage 393 yards of total offense (206 passing, 187 on the ground) on the night. The Ducks’ offense was Boom-or-Bust all game long, starting with the rip-roaring opening drive which was shades of a Chip Kelly-era game. Almost thought they’d go for two after Jaylon Redd’s beautiful catch and run on the opening score. But then the offense went ultra-conservative on their second drive following Bennett Williams’ interception of Arizona’s first play from scrimmage, settling for a 21-yard field goal from Cam Lewis. And thus the pattern was set— big, yard-gobbling pass plays and runs followed by indecisive quarterback keepers from Anthony Brown or questionable runs up the gut by C.J. Verdell, whose mysterious lack of touches last night caused many to scratch their heads.
Speaking of Brown, the senior signal caller had what was arguably his worst game of the young season yesterday, going 10 for 21 for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns, while adding 41 yards on 12 carries for a paltry 3.4 yards per tote. While the average yards per catch and sterling touchdown-to-interception ratio (AB has yet to throw a pick through four games) stand out, Brown looked slow and tentative throughout the game, and his sideline behavior led one to wonder if he was dealing with an undiagnosed concussion.
The offensive line continued their offensive play, failing repeatedly to open holes for the running game or give Anthony Brown time to throw from the pocket. They also were called for four false start penalties, and committed the ultimate sin, allowing Brown to be sacked in the end zone early in the third quarter for a dreaded safety. For a group that had received a boatload of accolades following the Ohio State victory, they’ve taken multiple steps backward in the two games since.
Travis Dye had a boffo game for Oregon, gaining 92 yards on 5 rushing attempts, including a scintillating 53 yard run midway through the second quarter. Dye also had 1 reception for 22 yards.
Conclusion: Inconsistency, thy name is Oregon. The Ducks showed the big play ability that helped define the Chip Kelly era, but none of the killer instinct. Brown has shown that while he has the maturity and fortitude to maintain the starting quarterback role, it’s becoming obvious that he is limited in the passing game, a troubling notion as we hit the meat of the conference schedule. The offensive line must relocate— and maintain— the magic formula that was the foundation for Oregon’s generational victory in Columbus two weeks ago.
Final Grade: C+
Thank the gods for ball-hawks. This game would’ve had a much different outcome had it not been for the heroics of safety Bennett Williams and cornerbacks Mykael Wright and Verone McKinley, III. Arizona repeatedly enforced their will on the Oregon defense, wracking up 435 total yards (233 yards passing, 202 rushing), while gaining 32 first downs, and going an inexplicable 4-for-4 on fourth down conversions. Oregon’s porous defense failed to force even a single three-and-out, and the Wildcats held the ball for almost 38 minutes last night. Fortunately for the Ducks, Arizona quarterback Jordon McCloud’s frequent drive-killing mistakes concealed Oregon’s poor overall effort, as the sophomore signal caller threw five interceptions, including two in or near the end zone, and the dagger, a pick-six by the aforementioned Williams to salt the game away midway through the fourth.
Noah Sewell continued his stellar early-season play, with a team high fourteen tackles, and Brandon Dorlus again showed himself to be Oregon’s steadiest D-lineman, with three tackles and two tackles for loss. Media darling and cyber financier Kayvon Thibodeaux made his first appearance since the first half of the Fresno State game in week one, but was largely ineffective in limited action.
Conclusion: Oregon showed glimpses of the defense they can be, but rarely sustained the effort or expediency necessary. The Ducks’ secondary has the makings of an outstanding unit, but further seasoning is needed. The linebacking corps remains raw and undisciplined, and the D-line repeatedly failed to get any push let alone pressure on the quarterback. Had it not been for the scatter-shot passing of Jordon McCloud, this game could have gone down a much darker and uglier path.
Final Grade: C
Cam Lewis continued his strong play, hitting all five of his PATs and both of his field goal attempts, including a crucial 43 yarder early in the fourth quarter. One black mark on his ledger however is his continued failure to drive the ball into the end zone on kickoffs. This could come back to haunt Oregon down the road. Tom Snee had another strong game punting the ball, averaging 49 yards on his two boots. Oregon had no return yards on either punts or kickoffs. The Ducks’ kick coverage was decent, keeping the Wildcats from breaking any long runs.
Conclusion: A unit many thought would be a question mark coming into the season has continued its steady play throughout the first four games of the season. Lewis continues to be a pleasant surprise.
Final Grade: B
Hoooboy. Headscratching offensive playcalling. Uninspired defensive play. On-field mental mistakes. As fans I suppose we need to remember that this is still a very young team, and some of the errors and boneheaded plays are to be expected. And fortunately none of those issues have yet to cost the Ducks a game, but head coach Mario Cristobal had better make the corrections before they do.
Conclusion: The Ducks continue to play to the level of their competition, for better or worse. Yet despite Oregon’s gaffes, blunders, and boners, they’re 4-0 and ranked third in the nation. Those of us who thought, following the win in Columbus, that the team would waltz through the conference schedule have been dragged back to reality. This team is STILL good enough on paper to go undefeated. But buckle up folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Final Grade: C
Oregon’s uniforms: ZOMG, Oregon’s kit last night was en fuego, A+
Atmosphere: a beautiful, early evening in Autzen. Students back in the stands. A national TV audience. Too bad they had to watch such a turd. B+
The gameday broadcast: goodness, but there was such vitriol in the game thread for ESPN’s broadcasters Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmore. Not quite sure why, I thought they were quite fair and unbiased. B-