Duck Defense Dominates Da Bruins + Recruiting & Game Notes

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Kevin Cline

Great teams make good teams look average.  After last night, there’s no doubt that Oregon is a great football team.  The Ducks beat the UCLA Bruins, 42-14, in a game that showed the nation they’re more than just an offensive juggernaut.  After Saturday night, those left questioning Oregon’s championship credentials are few.

With all due respect to Coach Helfrich, the “faceless opponent” mantra didn’t hold much water this week, at least not among fans and analysts across the country.  With College GameDay in town and the primetime slot on ESPN, everyone was anxious to see how Oregon would respond after being placed behind Florida State in the initial BCS rankings.  The Ducks certainly played like they had something to prove.

The game started inauspiciously with a Keanon Lowe fumble on the opening drive that gave UCLA a short field that led to a Bruins’ touchdown.  After a 3-and-out, Oregon did what no one in the stadium expected — ran a fake punt.  Rodney Hardrick took the direct snap and ran untouched through a hole bigger than a manufactured home, for a 66-yard gain.  That set up a DeAnthony Thomas touchdown run to swing the momentum Oregon’s way.

Byron Marshall finished with 133 yards and 3 TDs

Kevin Cline

Byron Marshall finished with 133 yards and 3 TDs.

After a great 4th-down stop by the defense, Oregon marched down the field and capped the drive off with a 40-yard Byron Marshall touchdown run, on a perfectly-executed outside zone read.  UCLA again went 3-and-out, before another nice Oregon drive.

Looking prepared to take control of the game and go up 21-7, the Duck offense faltered in the red-zone, turning the ball over on downs, missing a chance to really take control of the game.

UCLA proceeded to march down the field behind a beautiful 33-yard, 3rd-down run by Bruin QB Brett Hundley.  As they usually do, though, the Oregon defense tightened up in the red-zone.  Hundley threw an interception right to Boseko Lokombo, who Hundley didn’t see drop into zone coverage – although Ifo Ekpre-Olomu made a break on the ball and likely would’ve made the interception, if Lokombo hadn’t.

Oregon couldn’t capitalize, as a quick 3-and-out gave the ball back to UCLA, who then marched down the field for a touchdown, again relying almost solely on Hundley for their offensive success.

Lokombo and the rest of the defense was dominant

Kevin Cline

Lokombo, and the rest of the Duck defense, was dominant.

At 14-14, Oregon had one more drive before the end of the half.  They got into scoring position and attempted a 37-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, but the Alejandro Maldonado kick missed, wide right.

For the first time this season, the Ducks went into halftime without a lead.  It was an odd score since Oregon appeared to be in control of the first half; a sleeping giant waiting to explode.

While a fast UCLA defense was undeniably effective in the first half, it was clear coming out of halftime that if UCLA was going to compete for four quarters, it would be because of a great performance by Hundley. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it was the Oregon defense that would steal the show.

After a defensive stop on UCLA’s opening drive of the 2nd half, Helfrich opted to punt the ball on 4th-and-1 from the Oregon 40, in what might be the most obvious “I’m not Chip Kelly” moment of Helfrich’s tenure – so far.  The defense validated his decision by forcing a 3-and-out on the Bruins, thanks to a great individual play by Tony Washington coming off the edge on 3rd down.

Addison continues to make plays for Oregon

Craig Strobeck

Addison continues to make crucial plays for the Ducks.

Oregon marched down the field and got inside the 10-yard line, only to turn the ball over on a bad snap.

Yet again, the Oregon defense responded, as did the crowd.  Another 3-and-out had the Autzen faithful in a frenzy.  Byron Marshall then put the team on his back and absolutely took over the game.  It started with a 9-yard rushing touchdown that gave the Ducks a 21-14 lead, one they would never relinquish.

UCLA got the ball back, and, down a touchdown, probably knew they had to score if they were planning to stay competitive.  The crowd picked up on this too and Autzen got louder than its been yet this year.  When Hundley threw a 3rd down interception to Avery Patterson, the stadium erupted; fitting, considering that the game had just been blown open.

Tyner played well in meaningful minutes

Kevin Cline

Tyner continues his fast-tracking acclimation to Duck football.

For the remainder of the game, Oregon ran the ball down UCLA’s throat.  They couldn’t be stopped.  The offense played confidently, while the UCLA defense looked tired and defeated.

Behind a brilliant 2nd-half effort by the defense, Oregon scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and won the game 42-14.

While the offense came on strong late, the story of this game was the defense, which is sure to receive a lot of attention nationally. They looked absolutely dominant.

In the 2nd half, they forced 3 three-and-outs, had an interception, gave up zero points and only 84 yards, 37 of which came on the last possession of the game.  Anyone who thought Oregon was a one-dimensional team had their eyes opened Saturday.

This was a great game.  Oregon was tested and they answered.  They showed the nation who they are and what they’re capable of, on both sides of the ball.  They forced their collective will on what is clearly a good UCLA football team.  And that’s what great teams do.  The 2013 Oregon Ducks are a great football team.

RANDOM GAME NOTES

– I can’t stress enough how much fun it was to be at this game.  The atmosphere had that trademark Autzen magic; at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters, the crowd shook the stadium.  I was sitting next to an ESPN reporter who said that he’d been to a lot of college football stadiums and had never experienced an atmosphere like this.  When Autzen gets loud, the atmosphere is a truly special thing.

Marshall played with an obvious fire

Craig Strobeck

Marshall played with an obvious fire.

– Byron Marshall was an absolute stud.  He made everyone forget about De’Anthony’s absence.  His improvement since last season is remarkable.  During one three-play sequence in the third quarter, he showed off everything.

On a 3rd-down run, he juked the socks off of a linebacker who’d filled the hole and made the 1st-down conversion look easy.  On the next play, he showed off his hands with a catch out of the backfield, before turning on the jets and finishing the play by punishing a defender instead of going out of bounds.  Finally, Marshall capped off the critical go-ahead drive by using his patience and vision as a runner, to score on a 9-yard run to the outside.  This was Marshall’s coming out party.

– Tyner wasn’t just in at the end of the game, he got some truly meaningful carries while the game was still hanging in the balance.  The fact that he’s earned the coaches trust to that extent, especially when Marshall was having such a strong game, is a very good sign.  These kinds of experiences matter.  Tyner’s development as a running back is and will be exciting to watch.

– FYI: Avery Patterson makes plays.

– Everyone in the stadium, including the UCLA players, knew that Oregon was going to win this game once the 4th quarter got underway.  Hard to describe how obvious it was.  The confidence discrepancy was palpable.

– Did anyone think Allioti was going to take out the first team defense for that last UCLA drive?  No.  No one thought that.

– Despite playing beautifully, this game didn’t help Marcus Mariota’s bid for a Heisman.  It probably didn’t hurt it, either.  Ultimately, Mariota did what was asked of him, especially in the 2nd half where he didn’t throw a single incompletion.  Oregon decided to pound the ball on the ground and when that proved effective, there was no reason to air it out.

– Finally, this game could prove to be big for recruiting.  Oregon hosted at least five official visitors this weekend: 5* S JuJu Smith, 4* S/WR Montae Nicholson, 3* OT Braden Eggert and Oregon commits Royce Freeman and Tyrell Crosby.  There were also a few high profile unofficial visitors.  I can’t imagine that they were un-affected by the atmosphere.  Combined with everything else that Oregon has to offer, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks made some real headway with high-priority targets such as Smith and Nicholson.  The early word is that Smith, in particular, has loved his visit.

It's no surprise UCLA players were quick to hit the ice baths

Kevin Cline

It’s no surprise that UCLA players were quick to hit the ice baths following the 42-14 loss.

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Chris Charbonnier

Chris Charbonnier

Chris was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but made his way to Oregon by the age of five, when he attended his first game at Autzen Stadium. A huge sports fan at a young age, Chris grew up playing football, basketball and golf. Although realizing he isn’t likely to play in the NFL or NBA, Chris still holds on to hopes of being a professional golfer should his unfortunate putting woes take a turn for the better. A bit of a platypus, he attended both Oregon State and Oregon during his collegiate days where he earned a business degree in Finance and Business Administration. Chris works for Daimler Trucks North America in Portland, and plans to get his MBA from the University of Oregon. Chris has been an active member in the recruiting community since 2005. He studies the intricacies of recruiting and is particularly intrigued by talent evaluation techniques. He is currently working on developing his own scouting reports for every scholarship player on the UO roster. Chris lives with his wife, Katrina, and his two-year-old son Lucas (a future dual-threat QB).

  • 1funduck

    Probably one of the most complete games I’ve seen in the last 2 years. Running game; complete. Defense? Lets take a solid look at this game. UCLA scores on a turnover with short field for their first points of game. Where did their next score come from? Short field on turnover. The rest of the game the Bruins did nothing. Outside of those 2 (drives), they rack up about 175 yards. Second half? Shutout! As for Mariota, I believe Heisman pundits want gaudiness. But 21-28 passing is pretty studley. 3-4 passes flat out dropped. At the end of first half MM throws the ball away to stop clock, heady play I think. MM’s Heisman to lose. Perfect game, no, complete game. This game proved to me that Oregon can stand against anybody and will probably win it all.

    • hokieduck

      Nothing vertical from MM. however. His passing looked like last year. All unders and swings.

  • worldwidewebfoot

    How lucky we are! When DeAnthony Thomas is at risk of losing his job! Unbelievable. I was bothered to see him being tossed around by UCLA linebackers. It is tough out there.

  • D. Young

    Wow, it feels like a dream you don’t want to be woken up from. Duck fans have never had it this good. Still can’t believe how good we are. The players have enriched so many people’s lives with these great memories. WTY, GO DUCKS!

  • Seriously

    Do I just have my duck goggles on or were the UCLA linebackers taking cheap shots on DAT all half. I don’t mind a hard hit but head shots and body slams belong in the WWF not football.

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Well, it’s a physical game. The McCarthy throw down was an obvious flag. Idk how both officials who we’re standing right there missed that. The other three were questionable; even the huge Zumwalt hit looked clean until about the third slo-mo replay.

      DAT is special because of his suddenness, which is only possible due to his size, but that size also means he’s susceptible to getting tossed around like a rag doll.

    • hokieduck

      I agree, Seriously. ONe hit on DAT was absolutely clearly hat on hat. The rip and throw was ridiculous and the late hit on MM out of bounds (which apparently Marcus intervened with the refs and asked them just to let them play… wow).

      For the flag happy Pac12 refs to keep them in their pockets, I can’t help but believe they are “punishing” Nick.

  • Gang-green II

    Chris, excellent write-up, enjoyed it very much! A small thing . . . UCLA’s second touchdown was after a UO 3-and-out alright, but, of course, the real issue on that series was the blocked punt by Myles Jack and the very short field the Bruins had to negotiate to score.
    Watching the game on the tube, it sure sounded like Autzen was noisy! So cool when Autzen is rockin! Wish I coulda been there!
    GO DUCKS!!

    • Chris Charbonnier

      Thanks Gg. Jack is a stud; it’s too bad we couldn’t land him last cycle. The coaches really wanted him.

  • spice ’90

    Living in UCLA/USC territory the local media continues to miss the point. They stress freshmen on the O line for UCLA … How Hundley had a bad game…In fact, Let’s give credit where it is due… OREGON DEFENCE won this game and DOMINANTED…. They all talk about Jim Mora’s staff and the Super Bowl rings etc. but OREGON Coaching staff out coached them at every turn…. My only regret about this game is we still don’t have a reliable Kicker in Maldonado. If we ever get a close game with ‘Bama or Ohio State we might need a kicker at the end..
    GO DUCKS!! WTD….

    • hokieduck

      Bama or Florida State. And I totally agree. The kid simply has a mental issue when the game is close and the yardage is between 35 and 40 (probably longer but he hasn’t been given the chance to miss those yet).

  • dirk diggler

    I can’t say enough about the way our defense gets prepared for these games. To come out in the second half and dominate the way they did was awe inspiring. Keep up the good work, I’ll be book’n my flight to Pasadena.