The Ducks defeated the Georgia State Panthers 61-28 in their final tuneup before heading into Pac-12 conference play. With the injury to quarterback Vernon Adams, redshirt junior Jeff Lockie was given the chance to make his first collegiate start. As big of a deal as it was for Lockie personally, Duck fans now could compare the two quarterbacks and make their own short-term decision about Oregon’s offensive leader.
Lockie, although used sparingly in previous seasons, showed signs of calmness and maturity during his first drive. He completed his first two passes and led the Ducks down the field to score the first of Aidan Schneider‘s four first half field goals (talk about a Lou Groza award candidate).
After the game, A.J Jacobson of Ducks Sports Authority, spoke with offense coordinator Scott Frost about Lockie and the Oregon offense. When asked about his new quarterback’s performance, Frost said, “Jeff did great, he’s been around a long time. He understands what we are trying to do. I thought he was efficient, distributed the ball well and made some plays when we needed him to.”
Lockie, a student of the game, made the most of his time in Marcus Mariota’s shadow, learning and improving his simplistic, yet efficient play style. Finishing 23-of-31 for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns, Lockie provided a more relaxed style of offense than the electrifying Adams.
Frost also had a few critiques for Lockie in areas such as decision making in the pocket and decisions on when to leave the pocket and extend the play. True, Lockie was a bit too quick to scramble, but with more first team reps his confidence and trust with this talented group of receivers will skyrocket.
Speaking of those huge, fast, and talented receivers, Dwayne Stanford took a screen pass 35 yards for a score early in the second quarter. Johnny Mundt also added an 11-yard score in the 3rd quarter. Lockie practically completed a pass to every eligible Duck receiver. 11 different players caught a pass for Oregon, displaying the squad’s versatility and depth.
Lockie also had plenty of help from the rushing attack, which compiled another 311 yards. Led by Royce Freeman‘s 101 yards and a touchdown, this game also featured speedsters Tony Brooks-James and Taj Griffin. With 50 and 56 yards respectively, these two backs displayed their raw speed and acceleration. With Freeman’s power and determination, these running backs create a three headed monster that will surely keep defenses on their toes.
Receiver Bralon Addison also took some snaps from the Wildcat formation. When asked about the formation and versatility of Addison, Frost said, ” We have a lot of faith in our quarterbacks and we have a lot of faith in Bralon. We are going to call plays that give us the best chance to win.” Indeed, one of Oregon’s best offensive weapons is its versatility. With countless formations, plays and talented players that can line up all over the field, I can only imagine the stress for defense coordinators.
The secondary showed improvements, forcing two interceptions. But there is still plenty of room for improvements. Jacobson also spoke with defensive coordinator Don Pellum for insights on his unit’s latest performance.
Pellum mentioned the defense showed signs of the tenacity and aggression that he preaches. Forcing turnovers and creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks is the bread and butter for Oregon defensively; one that has been in question early on this year. A 41-yard pick-six from safety Tyree Robinson to open the scoring was a welcome sight for many Duck fans.
Pellum is confident his defense will be ready for conference games, starting this week with a tough Utah team. I am sure college football fans remember the game in Salt Lake City last year, when Kaelin Clay prematurely dropped the football before crossing the goal lone, allowing Joe Walker to pick up the ball and return it the length of the field for a Duck touchdown.
Unfortunately Clay will not be in attendance as he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year. Surely he would have received quite an ovation from Duck fans.
In case you missed it, the Pac-12 North went 6-0 last week, with written-off Stanford upsetting mighty Troy at the Coliseum. The Ducks will have their hands full each and every week from here on out. Whether it is Lockie or Adams at QB this weekend, look for an explosive and versatile offense and a motivated and determined defense. This game will be a top 20 matchup that you don’t want to miss!
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Top Photo by Kevin Cline