The Ducks have 10 days to get ready for Stanford, time to heal the bruises and prepare for another physical game, another "first real test of the season" against The Cardinal, currently locked in the fourth quarter of a close game, likely to be 7-1 and ranked 5th in the country.
These were the lessons of a tough victory against #12 UCLA:
1. Byron Marshall is the #1 running back, and Thomas Tyner is best off the bench.
Marshall dashed 40 yards for a touchdown on a stretch play in this game, a brilliant run in which he cut and followed the blocking perfectly, making a quick move to the sideline and exploding past the defense behind blocks by Pharaoh Brown and Jake Fisher. He had another great run in the fourth quarter, bouncing outside and scampering for 26. Tyner ran hard in the fourth quarter, moving the pile as the Ducks attacked the worn-out Bruins with inside runs on their last two scoring drives.
De'Anthony Thomas was tossed around like a crash test dummy, thrown down repeatedly and bashed in the head on a catch over the middle, a helmet-to-helmet shot where the flag was picked up. He's clearly best in the slash role where he gets open field. He didn't find any running room as a lead back tonight, and Marshall has 5 100-yard games in a row, running with confidence, authority, and decisiveness.
The Black Momba is still a great football player. Use him in the slot, motion him, pitch to him, run the fly sweep, get him in a pass route (he has great hands, hanging on to one ball when he was absolutely clocked) but the absolute worst way to use him is as a lead running back running between the tackles against a physical front seven eager to toss him around.
2. Now would be a good time to play four complete quarters
Ducks got off to lackluster starts against Colorado, Tennessee and Washington. They slept through the second quarter and the fourth against WSU. UCLA played a more physical and intense game for the first two and a half quarters, and the Ducks aided them with fumbles, a pass interference penalty on third and five, a bad snap and a blocked punt.
Stanford is the most physical team this side of Alabama with lots to play for at 7-1 and 5th in the country. They're still alive for the conference championship and a BCS bowl. They held the Ducks out of the national championship game last year.
3. Oregon's defense is pretty good
They allowed just two short-field touchdowns on the day, and held UCLA to 64 yards passing and 283 yards, less than 4 yards per play.
They still have to contain a mobile quarterback better. Hundley scrambled or kept 15 times for 72 yards. Kevin Hogan and Utah's Travis Wilson run well, and they may face Hundley again in December.
4. Marcus Mariota is a cool customer, and his offense takes their cue from him
There's no panic in this team. They react to adversity with incredible calm. Stymied and knocked around for two and a half quarters, they stayed focused and kept playing one play at time. Mariota was 10-10 in the second half, on target at 21-28 for the game despite 4 drops, for 230 yards and a touchdown to Bralon Addison.
The 2013 team will handle a close game or having to come from behind with a lot of poise. Despite the claims of the pundits, they have been tested. They just handle the tests extremely well.
Byron Marshall.. What word sums up his Performance this season? I wanna say Perseverance. It starts with fall camp. The talk of the town is the highly touted speedy freshman Thomas Tyner. Everyone is talking about DAT and Tyner making Highlight plays for the ducks high powered running game.
In the opener, my little sister could have busted a few runs agianst Nichols, and really that isn't an exaggeration, she's probably the best athlete in my family... Thats with a former College Bball player as a father and brother.
But Virginia he was stone walled by a few things, A.) Bad Play calling, B.) Limited touches and C.) A tough defensive front that was playing with a chip on it's shoulder.
Tennessee was a decent showing for him but again I think everyone agreed he could be better.
Then Boom, on a rainy night in Eugene, DAT goes down and in his place steps Byron Marshall. Not only has Marshall met the expectations, but he has exceeded them. LaMichael James' numbers as a redshirt freshman (essentially the same year as Byron) are similar to Marshall's. We all remember the year LaMichael had, cementing his place in Oregon lore for the rest of time. If Marshall was the feature back in the first 3 games of the season, chances are Marshall would be near the top of the nation in rushing yards. He's averaging nearly 137 yards a game in the past 5 games including 8 TD's in the last three, arguably the toughest stretch the ducks have faced thus far. He's been playing excellent in the run game and has been effective in the passing game as well. On his 11 receptions this season, he's totaled 150 yards, an average of almost 14 yards per catch, often times giving Mariota an effective check down that can make defenses pay for sitting back in deep zones or run off in man coverage.
Marshall has also shown a gear that not many knew he possessed on long Runs. The 40 yard burst against UCLA is a great example. Marshall shows great patience, sees the alley, and one decisive cut later, he's bursting down field for a Touchdown. His 30+ yard strike against Wazzu showed great vision and again his underrated speed running away from not only the defenders in front of him, but also the backside defenders who's job is to take away the cut back lanes.
It's been exciting to watch Marshall excel this season. He has persevered, kept his nose to the grindstone, and really claimed the true number one RB spot. He has been consistent in his effort, and that same consistency is showing in volumes on the field.
Also, the Pac 12 blog sums it up perfectly... If every Oregon RB gets hurt, at least we know Rodney Hardrick can TOTE THAT ROCK. I loved the angle from behind the play on that fake punt because it really looked like a full field One on One tackling drill between Hardrick and Shaq Evans. haha
Extermely well said on all accounts. While everyone has been giving Helfrich an A for his transition, and ultimately the Ws count most, I have been concerned about his ability to tighten up the penalties, dropped passes, fumbles, and use of DAT. I would rate him a B right now...the best athletes on the field are winning as they should and he's made some gutsy calsl (fake punts, etc.), but his handling of Colt, and the above mentioned drop him to a solid B. I love Kenon Lowe but he has had some HUGE mistakes in a couple critical games...we do that against Stanford and we'll find our selves in a slugfest and we could very easily be on the wrong end of the game.
I am getting just as mad as possible. Dale I am going to take you up on the offer and its time for some head to head challenges.
Point number 1 is spot on Dale. DAT is a special athlete, just not an every down running back. Starting him at running back is a misuse of his talent and speed. DAT needs to be used in the TZR role where he can get into space. Marshall is having a special season and deserves the starting running back position. He absolutely took the game over last night. He was a pleasure to watch.
@Mahunashizzle Good comments bro. I like the way you think. I would only add the following...
Marshall's rise has followed closely the rise of the Oregon O line. They did not play particularly well early on but have steadily improved.
Marshall himself has certainly risen. He is cutting much better and reading the field very well. The difference between LMJ and Marshall has always been the signature game (at least to me). He has now had two of those, against Wazzu and UCLA. 'Nuff said, he is a stud in his own right.
He is tough, isn't he? I watched him hold the ball so much better the last few weeks and play with such intensity.... Total workhorse, and so deserving of praise. What a great story!
Also, statistically, Marshall is the the definition of a work horse back. From the first quarter, to the fourth, his average yards per carry increases from a solid 5.0 yards per carry in the first, to over 10 yards per carry in the fourth. He's been great in the two games vs ranked opponents as well, averaging over 6 yards a carry and scoring 5 TD's.
@Mahunashizzle 2010 Civil War, Maldo sold the snap sailing over his head and Clay went 64 yards, minus 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Same situation though, the three and out with the opposing D celebrating their stop, then poof, new set of downs 60 yards away.
@Mahunashizzle That was an amazing play call, wasn't it? It was 4th and 14 at the Oregon 26. The middle was so wide open Hardrick just trucked upfield and up the left sideline. The Ducks ran a similar play for a big gain in the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU a few years ago, and at the end of the run the upback fumbled it away. That was a night that everything went wrong.
@Hammer 1962 I appreciate your comments Hammer, and I'd give The Helf a B+ right now. For different reasons though.
Yep, penalties should be lower, and that's coaching. The use of DAT in this game was not optimal. Harmful, is more of a word for that. Oregon is winning.
Lowe has made a few mistakes, but so have they all. We all wanted that pass caught against the Fuskies, but as Hobo pointed out, everyone's dropped balls.
I disagree on Colt. In retrospect, asking/letting/forcing Colt to leave the team, whatever really happened, was probably the right thing to do. The kid was doing drugs, didn't subscribe to the team rules, didn't listen to his trainers, and wasn't going to change. Sometimes, the best way to solve a morale problem is to fire all of the unhappy people.
We may disagree, but I respect your opinion Hammer. I hope to see you post some more! :-)
@Hammer 1962 Have to agree with Hobo that Lowe has made a huge contribution to the team in leadership, blocking and some big receiving plays, but Keanon would be the first to agree with you that he needs to take better care of the football. He's mature and smart and will make those adjustments.
Agree with you also that the Ducks have to improve execution for the Stanford game, and be prepared to play both halves with max intensity. It's a big game against a dangerous, physical opponent with the ability to punch back, playing in a style that offers the strongest contrast to what the Ducks like to do.
@Hammer 1962 Damn Hammer, I think you should watch a few more games. Lowe has been solely responsible for more yardage, first downs and TDs with his EXCEPTIONAL blocking on the edge. This all year long. Who hasn't dropped a pass or fumbled a ball. Did you ever play the game?
As far as Colt and MH, you haven't a clue how or what was handled so don't pretend you do. I better stop now or I may be fined $5000.
Go Ducks WTD
@sozeduck Soze--I loved the resilience and determination the Ducks displayed in this game.
Can't be sure about the reason, but the officials definitely allowed this to become a very chippy and physical game and made little effort to check the hitting just after the whistle or on the sideline; they even picked up a flag on what replay showed to be a very clear helmet-to-helmet shot on De'Anthony Thomas on a pass over the middle, the very kind of play the rule change was designed to prevent. Incredible concentration by DAT to hold on to that ball, by the way.
Marshall is doing a marvelous job running the football for the Ducks. Really finishing his runs well and running with authority and confidence. Not as fast as DAT, KB, LMJ or Tyner, but he has balance, vision and desire. People forget he was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school, the best running back in the West in his recruiting class. Has good hands out of the backfield also.
The kicking game has been a frustration. The Ducks can't even keep kickoffs in bounds. Since these two guys are all the team has, I don't see any benefit in piling on at this point. Fans just have to hope they suck it up and work out a solution, and that the rest of the offense executes with efficiency.
@DuckDucks Forgive me, DD, mad about what, and head-to-head challenges for what? I'm losing the thread here.
@1pac12fan Marshall is running with more confidence than ever. He's seized that lead running back role, and yeah, DAT is way more dangerous in open space.
@stroupenator Or Northern Illinois.
I think LMJ's signature game/moment, at least to me will always be when he ran directly down the throat of Stanford for 70+ yards and a TD, untouched, nobody was gonna even come close to catching him, and it completely sealed the deal on a dominating win over a very good Stanford team.
@Dale Newton @Mahunashizzle Ah yes I think I remember it well. I had strep throat and hated everything. I wanted to trample every patch of flowers on the planet haha It was a dark time. As Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia best put it "I'm living in a World of Darkness" lol
It may be my memory failing me but I thought that was the Arizona game after Dixon went out, the Ducks were trailing and needed a big play, the upback had the first down and way more, and tried to superman dive OVER the returned, who I believe was Anton Cason (future NFLer) and he fumbled and essentially lost the game...
@hoboduck @Hammer 1962 Hobo, you make good points and I appreciate your comments always. Please don't go so hard after the other posters in terms of questioning the validity of their observations in the vein of "you don't watch the games" and "you don't have a clue." Stick to facts and make your points; you always do that very well.
You're absolutely right and Keanon's positive contributions. Mistakes are part of the game, and he's a hard-working athlete who'll continue to get better. In this game he made a key block on Byron Marshall's 11-yard td run that put the Ducks in the lead to stay. Byron made a nice cut right off his hip as Lowe sealed the outside.
@Dale Newton @sozeduck It's important to note on kickoffs that I don't believe the coaches are asking for the ball to go out the back of the endzone. The kid is more than capable. The staff wants him to kick it high and at about the 10 yard line so they can pin them further back than the 25. It is a hard kick to make, one that requires the kicker to get his entire foot under the ball. The shanks are freshman errors.
To be totally fair, if they asked him to boot it out of the end zone, I bet he could every time.
The best way to neuter the front 7 of any team is to reduce their numbers. Punish them with the pass and they will drop back into coverage. Oregon does this quite well. Mariota was perfect in the second half of the UCLA game, and Marshall put up big big numbers precisely because of that.
@zduckfan @Dale Newton @Hammer 1962 Oregon asks their tight end to do a lot of things and the two young ones have embraced their role and made some nice plays. DAT isn't a tight end but he's a great slot receiver, very dangerous when lined up there. There's such a multitude of weapons in this offense it's tough to use everyone optimally; a big day by the tight ends against The Cardinal would help neutralize the aggressiveness of that front seven.
Furd is very good against the run, and can be very good against the pass. They do not do well against a team that twitches between both. The Fuskies made them defend the entire field and they didn't do so well. Utah made them work for every yard, and they didn't do so well in the end. Furd should have won that game.
Offensively, they aren't really that good. They do not utilize their tight ends this season, and they do not have breakaway receivers. They lost Stepfan Taylor at RB and do not have his equal this year. Their O-line is good, but not as good as it was last season.
So what's up with all of that? My take is that they are good, they just aren't great like they were last season. They get a LOT of credit for their win against Oregon last year, even though that team no longer exists. They do not deserve the respect they now covet, and will not deserve it unless they beat Oregon again and prove it to us.
Look at their game against Washington, where the huskies, who have picked up a lot of Oregon like plays this year, but still run a very smash mouth style of offense with downhill Single and two back sets. They struggled on defense, as well as offense.
Then against OSU, they didn't exactly struggle on defense, but mannion had another pretty good game as well as cooks, and the offense again struggled to produce.
Then they play UCLA and make it look like a cake walk.. Whats up with that?
@Duckbill zduckfan a t jeff newcomb dawt com
@Duckbill @zduckfan @Dale Newton @DuckDucks I picked a 6-spot once for $1480 and a smile at the Luxor in Vegas. :-) I work from 7-4 today, but will be thinking about the pros and cons. You pick which side you want to take and let me know. Pro-Ducks side starts, we'll do it via email and then present the complete piece to Dale when finished. Sound good? Sounds fun to me!
Okay @Duckbill this is it then. Do you want to do a Stanford/Oregon shootout with me? I'll take pro or con Oregon, your pick. One statement and 2 replies, with the pro-Duck person starting the conversation.
If Duckbill declines (which he probably will), I'll take on any challenger.
The only rules are: Comments must include stats to back up assertions (informative), funny (interesting), and spell checked so Dale doesn't have to spend any time editing.
@zduckfan @Dale Newton @DuckDucks Reader contributions are always welcome, provided they are interesting, informative, conform to the rules of spelling and grammar. They are particularly well-received if written with grace, humor, humility and good taste. Yours have always been uniformly excellent. The reception of the last one related most closely to the subject matter: the nuts and bolts of the BCS process makes folks eyes glaze over. You were informative and incisive.
Whoever the two debaters are, you could formulate the question, choose who begins, and we could email back and forth with a maximum of say 1 comment each and two replies. Then you could edit and post the results.
There are many people here who could participate. I'd even take a contrary position to the Ducks and do it as well as I could, if it would help. I think it would be fun, but then again, all my ravings about the BCS got exactly 4 FB likes, 1 retweet, and no comments. So take that for what it's worth. :-)
@zduckfan @Dale Newton @DuckDucks You guys are welcome to square off here and you both do a great job always of stating your cases. If we can keep the ridicule and the condescending inferences out of it, fantastic. For tomorrow I'm working on a breakdown of the highlight film, recruiting profiles of Montae Nicholson and Alfonso Hampton, and a first look at Stanford. I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I'm swamped.
@Dale Newton @zduckfan @DuckDucks I hear you Dale. Debates aren't fun, but they can be great reads with the right debaters and a good moderator. I like the stories ESPN runs on a specific issue, like MM vs Manzeil for the Heisman. The Sports Center debates with Lou Holtz as a lawyer petitioning his case for or against certain teams is pretty funny too.
It could be a great staple. For example, getting me and DB in a corner over whether fans should expect Oregon to blow out teams like Furd or UCLA could be quite interesting if we kept it civil and stat based. :-)
@1pac12fan He has grown so much this season and in interviews, the kid just shines. So well-adjusted, mature, dialed-in. Really prepared himself for this season and emerged just when his team needed him. Reads the blocking as well as any back the Ducks have had, and he's displayed some explosiveness in the last few weeks.
tOSU isn't going to lose though. Maybe Michigan can get it done, but really? They just don't play anyone. I know that's cliche, but they really don't play anyone in that conference. They do have one of the best coaches in the sport though, in spite of his apparent lack of morals, ethics, and values.