After playing two great quarters last week against the UCLA Bruins, the Ducks put together a more complete game on Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes. Granted, a weak Colorado team is not the best measuring stick, but the Ducks appear to be turning into the team that Oregon fans thought they should have seen from the start of the season, way back in early September. But hey, at this point, late October will have to do.
My top goal for the Ducks going into the game against the Buffaloes was to continue to improve on the passing game, and Oregon did just that. Anthony Brown threw for more than 300 yards and Devon Williams is turning into the team’s top go-to target. Putting up 52 points was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Duck offense that had been consistently out of sorts during the first half of the season.
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“Rhythm and flow” is a term I have often used to describe what Oregon’s offense has often lacked during Mario Cristobal’s tenure, but rhythm and flow were on full display against the Buffaloes. Entering the season the Ducks had a young team, a new quarterback, and a new offensive coordinator (I’m not counting last year). Perhaps the Ducks just needed a little time to gel and the fans needed to exude some patience (yeah, right!), but Oregon is pulling it together just in time for the home stretch of the season.
Wide Receivers: During the first half of the season many Duck fans were thinking, “If I was a wide receiver recruit, why would I even consider the Ducks?” Oregon’s offense was flat and suffering from a serious lack of wide receiver involvement. But, for the second week in a row, Brown spread the ball around to 11 receivers as Williams led the catch parade with five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Running Backs: Byron Cardwell had his breakout game with 127 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. With CJ Verdell out for the season, this is of course cause for celebration as it gives the Ducks a solid No. 2 running back to help workhorse Travis Dye. With Seven McGee and Trey Benson also getting some good touches, the Ducks can breathe a little easier regarding the running back situation.
Injuries a Good Thing?: No. But the Ducks survived the first half of the season with many key (and not so key) injuries at critical positions. This has allowed many talented yet inexperienced players to get some valuable playing time, which can only help the Ducks as they attempt to run the table. Quality depth is a shout-out to Cristobal and his top-notch recruiting.
Penalties: Only five for 40 yards on Saturday after being a curse for the Ducks in the first half of the season. Perhaps a further sign that Oregon is bringing it all together.
There’s still a lot of football to be played, but it appears the 2021 Ducks are turning into the team that we knew they could be, if only a little later than we were hoping. If before the season someone had said that the Ducks would be 7-1 at this point in the season we would have taken it, thinking that the loss came at the hands of Ohio State and not Stanford. But hey, no team is perfect. An 11-1 season is still within the Ducks’ grasp so long as Cristobal’s team continues to come together and does not backslide.
There have been bumps in the road, but Oregon is still on track to be the team that lives up to the expectations.
Top photo credit: Craig Strobeck
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Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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