They Are Who We Thought They Were . . . Almost

Oregon vs Nicholls

from Video

In Sunday retrospect, the “tune up” game that everyone was expecting, did, in fact, come to pass.  The Nicholls Colonels proved to be the kind of opponent the Ducks expected, with solid line play and a very good running back.  But with apologies to Lee Corso, not so fast my fine-feathered friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Ducks could have beaten the Colonels quite handily with our 3s against their 1s, but I think the scoreboard reflected a much different game than the reality.

This Ducks fan was expecting to see a lot more from Oregon at a number of different positions.

Marcus Mariota breaks free

Craig Strobeck

Marcus Mariota breaks free

First and foremost was the quarterback:  Overall, Marcus Mariota had a decent day, with some great running stats.  But early on, he was throwing off-target on a number of fairly simple routes.  Even when connecting with his receivers, if the ball had been more on target, there would have been lots more yardage piled up after the catch.  How many times did we see Josh Huff have to go down to the ground after making a catch?  If MM hits Josh in stride, Huff houses it on a couple of those plays.  Marcus’ first half stats in the air were definitely not what we would expect from him.

The defensive line:  There were a number of great plays and Tony Washington seems poised to have a really big year.  Great effort too, from Taylor Hart, Ricky Havili-Heimuli, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.  Although I still think there was room for improvement in the D line’s gap integrity.  On a related note, did you see the size of the Colonels’ offensive line? They must average in the 310 pound range.

On to the linebackers: Boseko Lokombo was a complete stud.  Making big tackles, covering tons of ground and showing us why he is so hyped.  We saw some really encouraging things, as well, from Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick.  I loved seeing Joe Walker and the rest of the linebacking corps doing some solid work.  But I did see some susceptibility to the screens and quarterback bootlegs that went for long gains.  This shouldn’t be happening against an FCS team.

With respect to the defensive backs: I thought they did a nice job, the targeting ejection for Terrance Mitchell notwithstanding.  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was his usual textbook self.  Lots of good run support with only a few mistakes.

Kickers: I was encouraged by the kicking of Alejandro Maldonado but was expecting more touchbacks from Matt Wogan’s reported “big leg” on kickoffs.

De'Anthony Thomas jumping to the cut

Kevin Cline

De’Anthony Thomas jumping to the cut

Now to the good news at running back:  How great was it to see De’Anthony Thomas as the featured back, getting tough yards up the middle?  Despite Nicholls being an FCS opponent, they were pretty stout in the middle on both the defensive and offensive lines.  For such a small frame, DAT is tough to bring down.   And Byron Marshall showed the kind of success we have been hearing about all during fall camp.  Plus, who didn’t enjoy seeing Colt Lyerla and Josh Huff line up in the backfield and tote the rock?  Getting Thomas Tyner healthy and having that many weapons at running back is going to scare the bejeezus out of our opponents.

Despite applying a tough love approach to Oregon’s overall performance in the season opener, I am really excited for what this season can hold for our Ducks.

Go Ducks!

 

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  • gamedaytribe

    Thank you! I thought I was going a bit crazy there. Everybody seems to be raving about our performance vs Nicholls, but I was concerned.

    I thought Marcus had a poor game.

    – He missed easy throws that he made day-in, day-out last season, against the toughest of opponents and under pressure, to boot.

    – Even when the ball was caught, I thought his location was poor, as inevitably the receiver either had to dive or turnaround, or jump in a way that they were unable to make yards after the catch, and were hit by defenders. He was just not on.

    – And though he ran well (OLINE performance is yet another problem), this was NIcholls. Against fast, competitive teams, someone is going to run him down and hit him. We were lucky last year with no or few injuries on the offensive side of the ball. It will be tempting fate to have Marcus have to run a lot. He must find his passing game.

    – The number of times no receivers were open was worrying. If the speed we have on offense can’t get open against Nicholls, how are they going to get open against real competition?

    – OLINE: the number of times the pocket collapsed and Marcus had to scramble is worrying. Even Tennessee is going to find us easy pickings at this rate.

    – Run defense was poor. If Nicholls could roll up 300 yards on us, and keep drives alive with a short passing and running game, then what is the meat of the PAC 12 going to do?

    Just how good is Nicholls?

    – Also worrying is the fact that Nick Alliotti is saying there was no intent on Mitchell’s part to target. Alliotti should know better than anyone that it does NOT matter if there was intent or not. You are supposed to prevent spearing, head-on collisions with helmet-to-body, any contact with head of receiver esp if he’s sliding. If he’s sliding, why hit him? In a discussion with other fans, unanimous opinion was that you avoid hitting a sliding player (as it looked like in the reviews). If Mitchell had indeed (as I felt) taken off before the QB started his slide, perhaps he should have tried to wrap/tackle with arms instead of throwing his body as a projectile.

    The bottomline is, Alliotti has to have a really good understanding of what will and won’t be flagged and should be training his troops thoroughly on that. Muscle memory is just that. In a big game under pressure playing a serious opponent, what he’s been drilled for months on end is going to manifest…and he cannot afford the penalty, much less getting kicked out of the game.

    Apologies for the length of thing thing…

  • Dianna Mai

    Scott, Come On Man, 1st Game’s you never really know what to expect, but from what I saw all these things will indeed be fixed, and against Virginia this Team will be a lot more focussed, as far as the LBs are concerned, this should and will be our best group yet, because with every Game they will indeed get better because nobody ever really runs to or on our D to the outside because we’ve got way to much speed. For Gap control yes that is the only concern I have is the middle and I believe Alex Balducci will be the one that will be the guy that takes on Double Teams to free up Hardrick to play Ray Lewis and become an ALL PAC 12 MLB. This D will still be the best Defense in the Pac 12 tyhis year even better than Stanford’s and thats not a JOKE. We have more Depth than them and our D Line is better and finally Bigger. Sao take it easy Aliotti will have these guys playing out of their minds next saturday and of coarse our offense will put up around 50 to 60.