That game was… strange.
Oregon looked fantastic in the first quarter, going up 15-7 after stalling out on their first drive. Then they didn’t really do anything of note in the second quarter until they put up a field goal with less than one minute remaining following a fumble by Tyler Shough.
That’s when the game changed.
Texas Tech tried to go down the field and kick a field goal heading into halftime, aided by a couple of Duck penalties (which I’ll talk about in a little bit), but the kick was wide left and Oregon entered the half feeling like they could pull away if they just cleaned up the unforced errors.
The Red Raiders responded by putting up 14 points in the third quarter. To emphasize how lopsided the middle of the game was, look no further than the box score for the second and third quarters: TTU 20, UO 3.
Entering the fourth quarter, Oregon found themselves down two scores. They decided that in order to retake control of the game, they were going to go on an extended (17 play, 6:29 long) drive resulting in a touchdown. The gambit worked, and Oregon iced the Tech offense, allowing only a field goal the rest of the way.
However, the win didn’t come easy. Jeffrey Bassa intercepted Shough and took it to the house with less than a minute remaining to put Oregon up only eight points. Analytics based thinking says to drop to the ground after the pick to allow the offense to run out the clock, but this game was as far removed from analytics as any I have seen. Luckily, the defense was able to intercept Shough one more time to seal the victory as time expired.
Stats Tell a Story
The game was drunk on the stat sheet as well. Normally, a team that was +4 in the turnover margin should have won by at least two scores. Unfortunately for the cardiovascular health of the Oregon fanbase, the Ducks allowed Texas Tech to stay in the game by committing an obscene 14 penalties for an even worse 124 yards, which is the equivalent of about 2 scoring drives in yardage.
In other news, the two quarterbacks led their teams in rushing. Shough gashed Oregon all night to the tune of 101 yards and a touchdown, while Bo Nix didn’t rush for what felt like the first two hours of the game, only to realize that it would loosen up the defense significantly if he did it. Nix finished the night with only 46 yards, and still led the Ducks in rushing yards.
Coaching Questions Arise
Last night was a night that Oregon learned a few things about their new offensive coordinator. For example, he is obviously not giving Nix the amount of say-so that the QB enjoyed last fall. So often last year, Nix would change the play at the line of scrimmage when it was obvious that the called play wasn’t going to work. Saturday night, however, Oregon ran three straight times trying to gain one yard against an eight man box: the perfect time to throw a play action pass.
Additionally, new OC Will Stein proved that his unit struggles to run the ball between the tackles, that he likes to throw swing passes and pitch the ball a lot. Given how vanilla last week was, all information is good information, except the part about not being able to run between the tackles.
The real questions, however, are on the other side of the ball. Tosh Lupoi is in his second year in Eugene, with all of his guys, and the unit looks horrendous in coverage, and they do. not. adjust. If something kills the Ducks early, it is certain to kill them late in games as well. Lupoi, and HC Dan Lanning are struggling to implement a defense that effectively defends the pass after spending the offseason overhauling the Oregon secondary.
They had better figure it out quickly, because the red-hot Colorado Buffaloes come to Eugene in two weeks, and they are going to throw the ball about two hundred times.
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Top Photo by Texas Tech Athletic Department
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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