Photo by Allan Johnstone
Oregon Football

Five Impressions

November 23, 2018

A very curious Oregon fanbase watched on Friday afternoon as the Ducks headed to Reser stadium in Corvallis. I say curious because there is zero doubt on paper, Oregon is the far superior team from a talent perspective. 

But Oregon on the road this year has been an enigma. They have started slow and sometimes finished slow. Prior to Friday, Oregon’s only road win was back in September against Cal. 

A rivarly game always has some mystique about it. Even on the years you should win, sometimes you don’t. That’s what makes them a lot of fun.

Following Oregon’s 40 point win, here are my thoughts on the game.

1. Started Fast, Finished Strong

Oregon’s road woes have been compounded by digging an early hole and never climbing back. That plagued the Ducks against Washington State, Arizona and Utah this season. But that was not the case in Corvallis and I do believe when the offense sets the tone, the defense follows. 

Oregon did a very good job of some supremely balanced scoring. Oregon scored at least 7 points in every quarter but scored 14 in the first and 21 in the fourth.

2. Bend But Don’t Break

That sort of seems to be the case of this defense. They tend to give up yards and big plays but do tighten up inside the 20. This was again the case in Corvallis.

Oregon’s defense forced 4 turnovers, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. The 4 turnovers totaled 20 points for Oregon. Meanwhile the Ducks never turned the ball over.

Red zone attempts were a glaring stat in Oregon’s favor. Oregon was 5/5 with all 5 rushing touchdowns. Oregon State was 1 for 2, and the 1 was a field goal.

3. No Herbert, No Problem

Like many of you, when I saw Justin Herbert was replaced by Braxton Burmeister, some really bad thoughts crawled into my head. I mean I want to see Burmeister succeed and assume he’s better than he was as a true frosh. But Marcus Arroyo was not interested in seeing him cut it loose with his arm and likely for good reason.

Look, Oregon State is a terrible rush defense. But take nothing from the Ducks. Against a stacked box Oregon continued to move humans and make lanes for Dye and Verdell. There is a thing of beauty seeing that kind of physical style of play. Oregon imposed its will on Oregon State for most of the game.

4. Disciplined football

Oregon did not turn the ball over. They were called for 5 penalties which isn’t bad. 

Oregon didn’t beat Oregon and at the end of the day, that’s been the biggest issue for this team.

Going on the road, seeing your star receiver sit for a quarter, watching your star quarterback go down still rolling up 34 points in the second half says a lot about this culture. I don’t discount this was Oregon State and not a ‘Washington level’ team. But this is still a young Oregon team in the first year of a head coach, clearly the culture is taking shape. 

5. 8 Wins

On the season with a 9th up for grabs if the Ducks finish with a bowl game win. Now, sure, 9 or 10 wins would be nice, but 8 at least shows some growth and that Mario Cristobal can get the job done.

Like, love or hate certain elements of this team, they still managed to play well enough to win 8 games. The big key is the recruiting that continues to shine. That should make Mario Cristobal’s job easier in the future. 

But for now, this is a solid building block for the foundation of his career. 

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