Oregon beat Stanford on Saturday, and the result was never really in doubt … Well, to everyone except Stanford Head Coach David Shaw, apparently.
Shaw didn’t think that his team was far from pulling off the upset, opening his press conference by saying:
“The game boils down to five or six plays, and the score will look like we’re not evenly matched, but when we watch the film, we’re going to see that we are.”
Admittedly, Stanford didn’t look outmatched by the Ducks. Oregon out-earned the Cardinal 320 yards to 234, but the game didn’t feel over until Stanford turned the ball over on downs with 4:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. Shaw and all players available to the media hit the same point concerning the loss: self-inflicted wounds.
Stanford Beat Themselves
Stanford only had six penalties for 45 yards, but Shaw criticized the discipline of his team saying, “Bottom line for us though, too many penalties.” Shaw had a point, as it wasn’t the penalty yardage that killed Stanford’s chances against Oregon; it was the timing of the penalties that proved to be too much to overcome.
On a punt early in the game, Oregon ran in to the kicker, giving a dead Stanford drive new life, only to have the penalty nullified by a holding call. In a drive at the beginning of the second quarter, the Cardinal had 1st and 10 at their own 35 yard line, down 7-3, but they were moving the ball. An illegal blocking penalty sent Stanford back 15 yards to their own 20, effectively ending the drive.
Then on a promising drive in the third quarter, back-to-back five-yard penalties put Stanford in a 1st and 20 at their own 16 yard line, leading the Cardinal to try and pass the ball out of the hole they found themselves in, leading to an Oregon sack and a punt. Later in the third, K.J. Costello completed a 15-yard pass for a first down, only to have the play called back for holding. And that was the game for Stanford: dig a hole in early down situations, and let the defense sit back and defend the obvious pass headed their way.
Blake Maimone looks like a star at punter. Of his six punts, five were downed inside the 20-yard line, with the sixth being downed at the 20. Shaw admitted that consistently bad field position contributed to the poor offensive outing for the Cardinal.
Jevon Holland is everywhere when he is on the field, fielding muffed punts, making tackles and snagging interceptions. Holland is one of the most talented defensive backs Oregon has had in recent history.
The running game is bad, and it’s because of how plays are drawn up. Oregon likes to run left, and who could blame them? The left side of the Oregon offensive line is arguably the best pair of linemen standing next to each other in all of college football. Unfortunately, other teams know that the Ducks want to run there, and thus they attack that side of the line. This has resulted in two consecutive games of Oregon not scoring a rushing touchdown. Shaw and the defensive players available to the media all praised the Stanford front seven for shutting down the Ducks’ rushing attack.
Oregon has a legitimate defense, but they need to improve. Shaw noted, “Gosh, I want to say he (Cameron Scarlett) probably broke about eight tackles tonight …” For a defense that wants to be elite, the Ducks cannot allow a player to break tackles at that rate, as a better offense would be able to capitalize on those miscues.
Overall, Oregon won a road game against a tough, albeit reeling, opponent. There is plenty to work on heading in to the bye week, and the Cal Golden Bears wait on the other side. But for now, the Ducks can rest easy being 1-0 in the Pac-12.
Palo Alto, CATop Photo by Matt Zlaket
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
Ryan Robertson is a defense contractor for the United States Marine Corps. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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