Derrick Malone led the Oregon with 11 tackles Saturday, and that's a good number for Don Pellum and the Oregon defense.
Trying to build depth, cohesion and recognition in the linebacker corps, Malone's solid day shows one of Pellum's key pupils is getting it and responding when the scoreboard switches on. Tony Washington added 7 from the drop end/outside linebacker position, and true freshman Torrodney Prevot, playing in his first college game, had 5 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. That's a good day's work for a new player. Prevot's speed and athletic ability at 6-3, 214 gives the Ducks some valuable added depth, especially since Christian French went down early with an injury.
Game ball giver: Marcus Mariota won a game ball after accounting for 337 yards and three tds for the Ducks, but he promptly awarded it to Mark Helfrich in honor of his first win as head coach (Scott Olmos, USA Today photo.)
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu roamed the field for 6 hard tackles, and senior Taylor Hart, always a fierce motor man from his defensive line spot, had 4 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. Among the linebackers, Joe Walker, Tyson Coleman, and Bo Lokombo all had 3 tackles. Ricky Havili-Hemuli was a force in the middle, collaring reserve quarterback Kalen Henderson by the jersey and throwing him down one-handed for a 9-yard sack.
The game started beautifully for the Ducks:
Six different D-Men recorded sacks, and eight different players had tackles for loss. On the opening series Colonel quarterback Beaux Hebert was pressured heavily on first down, sacked by Arik Armstead for a 4-yard loss on second down, and threw the ball hurriedly and harmlessly out of bounds on third down. Three and out, and a quick return to the offense, which had already driven 64 yards in 1:31 for a 7-0 lead.
The offense went 71 yards in 8 plays this time, a 12-yard run by De'Anthony Thomas, runs for 8, 3, and 6 yards by Thomas, working mostly inside on his way to a 128-yard day with two touchdowns, then The Black Momba again for 15 more yards down to the 27. Marcus Mariota hit Bralon Addison down the right sideline, and the smooth Texan made a nifty stop/start move to cruise in for the score and a 14-0 lead just four and a half minutes into the game.
Nicholls managed two first downs on the second possession, leaving Duck fans who expected a defensive domination a little restless. Marcus Washington took a swing pass for 14 yards, then ran for 7 and 4 yards for another first down to cross midfield. Washington frustrated the Oregon defense all day, particularly as a pass receiver, where he had 11 catches for 92 yards. Then on 3rd and 10 6-7, 286-lb. DeForest Buckner broke through for a 6-yard sack, and the Colonels had to punt again.
Addison took a fair catch at the ten, one of four times the Nicholls punt team pinned the Ducks inside the 10 on the day. Despite constantly having to work with a long field, Mariota coolly led the Ducks on six touchdown drives with the number one offense, even though he didn't have his best stuff as a passer Saturday.
Mariota threw almost exclusively downfield as Scott Frost seemed intent on working on the intermediate passing game in the first week of the season. He connected on some big plays but missed a few passes high, and missed Daryl Hawkins wide open deep down the right side, before finishing his day with 12-21, 234 yards and one td.
From their own 10 on the third possession, Mariota missed twice but then connected with Josh Huff on a 46-yard seam route on third and 10. DAT ran for 15 yards, 12 yards, then dashed 22 for the touchdown and a 21-0 lead after the point.
On the day Ducks kickers Alejandro Maldonado and Matt Wogan were a perfect 9-9 on PAT tries, while Maldonado drilled the only field goal try, a 29-yarder that split the uprights. Wogan had trouble with his kickoffs, sending two out of bounds. Even so, the kickoff team kept the Colonels inside their own 25 on most of the kickoffs, a net win for the defense. Wogan has to iron out the butterflies on the errant kicks; much of the time it looked like the special teams play call was for him to pin the returners near the goal line rather than go for touchbacks. In week two better hang time and defense should be expected from the freshman, who averaged 85% touchbacks as a prep.
On their third possession of the game Nicholls took over at their own 22. On first down senior Taylor Hart broke into the pocket, stripped Hebert for a sack and forced a fumble, recovered by Wade Keliikipi. Great work by the two seniors, and the sudden change set up the Oregon offense at the opponent's 17. In three possessions the Ducks had three sacks, all by defensive linemen in basic pass rush schemes. That was a good beginning.
The offense stalled on this possession, Byron Marshall for two yards, an incomplete pass, Mariota keeping for three. They settled for the Maldonado field goal and 24-0 lead with 5:04 to play in the first quarter.
Wogan drove his kick out of bounds, and Nicholls took over with great field position at the 35.
This time they moved the ball. The defense seemed to lose the thread of intensity as Hebert hit Washington for 18 yards on a screen pass, got another first down with a four-yard underneath route to Brad Nelson. They got the ball down to the 12 when Terrance Mitchell was whistled for a flagrant foul for targeting and ejected from the game, a helmet-to--helmet hit that took Hebert out for the rest of the contest. A holding penalty on Washington drove them back to the 23 just before the quarter ended, and just as the second period began, they had to settle for a 35-yard field goal, their only points of the game.
Nicholls kicked off three times in the game (once after a penalty) and all three times they aimed the ball away from De'Anthony Thomas. Keanon Lowe made them pay with a 48-yard return, setting up the Ducks at the opponent's 31.
This time the offense took advantage of the short field with a 5-play drive, Byron Marshall for 8, then 11, running hard on his way to 8 carries for 124 yards and a td, a day that included runs of 49 and 47 yards. The Colonels broke up a potential td pass to Josh Huff in the end zone, but then Mariota scrambled around the right side for an 11-yard td, getting a great block by Addison near the goal line.
Seventeen minutes into the game, and the Ducks led 31-3. They drove 90 yards on their next possession to make it 38-3, Mariota keeping on a Zone-read for 46 yards and the score.
Game highlights from Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup:
OK, watching the whole game now and I admit FoxS1 was not that bad. There is hope. Plus being based in L.A., and once they work out the bugs, Fox might offer a nice balance to the general 'right' coast bias of ESPN, etc.
To expand upon Duckbill's Gripe Alert, of the 3 teams that played, clearly the FoxSports1 team has the most work to do. The announcers voices seemed to fade at times. Probably a good thing as once I could hear them, I was sorry. A long ways to go before they stack up with the GameDay crew or my favorite of times gone by, Keith Jackson. Glad Ducks are on ABC/ESPN next week.
Any news on French's injury? I hear Tyner should play Saturday given we should put up some big numbers again, yet not as big as this weekend. Looks like some of these true freshmen are ready to play over other guys who have been in the program longer which tells me they're more talented and seem to grasp it just as well. That's what 4 years of great recruiting builds you up to and guys like Dungy will have a hard time seeing the field with these athletes coming in.
@rgyle Arg, i'd love to see Fox succeed for that very reason. They need to upgrade the talent in the broadcast booth or train their people better, but ESPN was once a fledging network televising log rolling and Australian Rules football. They've grown into an SEC-loving monster, and the sports world and fans could profit from some competition.
@Duckbill Terrific observations here. I'd love to post them as an article but I have to do so under your real name (it's too fan-bloggish to have nicknames and aliases all over the content). Johnstone's injury is especially concerning because Cavalier defensive end Eli Harold had two sacks and 3.5 TFLs against BYU's no-huddle spread offense.
@mtallia Chance Allen got some reps ahead of Dungy and made a couple of good catches and scored a td. No word on French as yet; you know how buttoned-up the Ducks keep things on injuries. With Washington and Prevot both having good games the linebacker group is coming along.
@Dale Newton@DuckbillCompletely agree! Both recaps are awesome, and Duckbill certainly has a good eye for detail...I never would have noticed that Mitchell lowered his head before impact. Can't wait to see the recap of the Virginia game after this weekend. @Dale Newton, we featured your recap on our blog this week here: http://blog.movoli.com/2013/09/03/09-03-13-this-week-in-movoli-college-football/2/
@Dale Newton @mtallia I guess what I'm hinting at is was it serious? And did he come back in? Taylor Hart is gonna be huge force this year and I can't believe I'm saying this but more of an impact player than Dion ever was and quite possibly our most dominant player along with Lokombo. Receivers looked good even if Mariota was a tad off but I expect him to really hit the film hard and clean up his mistakes. Linebackers gave up a lot of underneath passes but that's always been our achilles heal. Better push from the D-line will allow us to drop into coverage and make more plays but the D-line as I've noticed takes a couple games to get a consistent push. I'd say about 5-6 games in we will see this defense clicking on all levels. It's scary to say even though it was Nichols that this offense didn't have a great day despite the record setting performance which I believe was mainly because of a lack of a vanilla playbook second half for backups. I still don't like how Mariota is running around the yard and making plays on the fly, the offensive line has a ways to go and to be honest I wasn't impressed by the push and ability the defense ahead to blitz and flush him out. Virginia will no doubt be a better gauge for where we are right now.
@movoli blogger @Dale Newton @Duckbill Thanks for the mention, guys, we appreciate it. It's the beginning of an epic season in college football, the last of the BCS era, and we're privileged to be covering the story. There were some tremendous games in Week One, and Oregon-Virginia is one of the most compelling this Saturday. As you pointed out, it's the first time these two teams have met.