Resistance is futile.
It isn't the last test of the season or grounds for complacency, but yesterday's dismantling of Washington's most promising team of the last decade pretty much establishes that the 2013 Oregon Ducks are making a bid for greatness.
This team has a special blend of talent, humility, resolve and devotion to each other. They stay on mission. And they have a dazzling array of weapons as an offense. The defense just has to be good, because the offense will bury you.
Band of brothers: Teammates Tyler Johnstone and Mana Greig comfort Josh Huff on the sidelines after his injury during the second quarter in Husky Stadium. Contemplating a second half without three principal weapons in the offense, Duck fans got a Willis Reed-like lift when Huff came running out of the tunnel, an even bigger one when he burned the Husky secondary for a 65-yard touchdown and 28-14 lead. Huff went over 100 yards for the fourth time this season (Nate Barrett/Oregon Daily Emerald photo).
Oregon's been potent all through the Chip Kelly years, but this season Frost and Helfrich have unleashed new dimensions of indomitability. Marcus Mariota has emerged as college football's ultimate weapon, smart, fast, humble and calm, able to dissect defenses running or throwing, punishing them for whatever they cover least. Play-callling is flexible and inventive. The Ducks stick to basics, then switch it up. They can grind physically or strike deep, both fundamentally sound and explosively fast.
Before the season speculation focused on the downfield passing game. New receivers coach Matt Lubick might improve the technique and productivity of the Oregon wideouts, the thinking went. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost and new head coach Mark Helfrich were both former quarterbacks. They had a returning starter who could make all the throws, his six top targets returning with him. With some question at running back after Kenjon Barner left for the NFL, it seemed logical to think the aerial game would play a bigger role.
It all came together beautifully. Byron Marshall emerged as a capable lead back, 90 carries for 554 yards, 6.2 yards a carry and 6 tds. And the passing attack has blossomed. Last year Marcus Mariota averaged 7.97 yards per attempt. This year, it's 10.45. His passer rating for the year is an astounding 182.4, aided mightily by the fact that he's thrown 17 touchdowns without an interception. His escapability and resourcefulness in the pocket have helped also. The sensational sophomore has added 426 yards on the ground, and only been sacked five times. Several of the touchdowns and big gains have come after he evaded trouble in the pocket.
Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sports Northwest noted yesterday that Josh Huff and Bralon Addison have emerged as Oregon's best wide receiver duo since Keenan Howry and Samie Parker. Indeed, the two keep getting deep and making clutch plays. Through six games, Huff has 27 catches for 552 yards and 5 tds, a dazzling 20.4 yards a catch, while Addison's hauled in a deft 27 balls for 502 yards and 6 more scores, 18.6 a completion. The Texas twosome has given the Oregon offense a versatility that spreads opponents to the breaking point.
What a moment Huff provided yesterday. After he was carted off the field in the first half with what looked like a possible season-ending injury, medical staff working feverishly on his leg, he emerged running out of the tunnel in the second half, putting Oregon out in front 28-14 with a 65-yard over-the-shoulder touchdown grab, shaking off a defender inside the five.
Duck fans had to love what he said after the game. In an unguarded moment he told reporters "it pissed me off" when Bishop Sankey scored on a 60-yard run to bring the game within a touchdown to make the score 21-14.
Huff and the Ducks have a knack for getting pissed off in the right way, and responding with calculated vengeance. Together they are the most formidable force in sports, nice guys with a killer instinct.
After everything Huff's endured and overcome in his personal story, it's remarkable to witness the purpose and inner strength he brings to the football field. It's no wonder he's become a fan favorite in his senior year.
very nice article dale...you summed up quite a lot. My thoughts as well.
PS - Kudos for the Willis Reed reference.
This is another one of your fantastic articles Dale. Your writing is superb, an occasional typo notwithstanding. I love the place the Ducks are mentally. They don't get up and they don't get down, they just execute the next play to the best of their ability. So many weapons! It must be like being a kid in a candy store with a penny ( that shows how old I am ) for Mariota to decide who he'll give the next touchdown pass or hand-off to. Addison has transformed into a touchdown munching machine and Huff definitely has the Stuff. Mariota is Mr. Cool and the defense is outperforming DAP at plugging holes. It's a great time to be a Duck fan!
When is the last time we saw an Oregon QB like Marcus Mariota? His play was fabulous but more importantly, as least to me, it seemed like he was oozing confidence, in Seattle, against the Huskies. Josh Huff and Bralon Addison are looking great. Bralon looked a bit like LMJ on that 43 yard sweep. Who can afford to double team even one of them.?DAT should be back in the rotation soon. and how about Byron Marshall! He is quietly getting it done with a 6.2 yard average. Not too shabby. The offensive line is taking care of business. It is still one game at a time and now we have to be aware of Utah as well. Did you see the sign at College Game Day, 347 uniform combinations and 0 National Championships? The sign was fun but UW fans are really living in the past.
@duckified Thanks duckified. If you find a typo please call it to my attention. I appreciate your input, and cranking out content, I don't always catch everything.
@SonomaDuck Oregon football lives in the future.
@Duckbill heard addison interview crediting lubick too,, seems to have raised the receivers already to the next level.. excellent. Also, second your comments on the excellent duck defense!!
@Duckbill Haven't listened to the Frost interview. I will check it out. Another factor in the potential of the offense is that they've played the last three games with The Black Momba, and they haven't used him much as a pass receiver yet this year, a role in which he has been very dangerous.
The defense forced two key stops in the fourth quarter, 8 for the game, and that's more than enough with this offense. They will get better. Wade K, Buckner and Malone all had good games.