Oregon Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 6 Game vs. Washington
Well, that was fun.
In what was expected (by some) to be a closer game, Oregon took Washington to the woodshed, putting down the Dawgs 52-21.
It was another in a season-long parade of performances Duck fans have come to expect from their No. 2-ranked team. The sometimes maligned Oregon offense shrugged off any sluggishness, and the defense continued playing like they own the field.
Who can argue with them?
However, because Nit-picking R Us, there are some things we need to call to your attention.
Winner: Kenjon Barner
Didn't you think that Kenjon Barner might have a slower night after what Washington's defense did to Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor last week?
Yeah, me too. Aren't we stupid?
There is the nagging suspicion that perhaps Kenjon Barner is not getting the full adulation he is increasingly earning.
Against the Huskies, Barner had 122 yards on 10 carries for a 6.1 average. And I don't think he played much in the fourth quarter, if at all.
Barner's solid pounding up the middle opened up the Ducks' passing game. Mariota was able to connect with seven different receivers in part because Barner made the Dawgs pay attention to him.
Barner may not have scored a TD in this one, but he paved the way for most of the Ducks' offensive scores.
Winner: Kiko Alonso
The definition of a good college football player is one who steps up when his team needs him the most.
With fellow linebacker Michael Clay on the sidelines, Kiko Alonso stepped up. Not that his play all season has been shabby—quite the contrary—but Alonso seemed to understand that he would have to play flawlessly against the Huskies.
With a team-leading 10 tackles (eight solo) and one important sack, Alonso was both disciplined and scary good.
Really, really scary.
If I was Matt Barkley, I'd be seriously considering taking out extra insurance on my body.
Loser: Oregon Special Teams
It's difficult to come up with a "loser" in a 52-21 blowout of an arch-rival. However, since that's the name of this article, here goes.
I was not enamored with Oregon's special teams in this game.
First, Rob Beard misses a 41-yard field goal that he should be able to make in his sleep. He redeemed himself with a nice 28-yarder in the third quarter, but c'mon, man, Chip Kelly doesn't give you that many opportunities to kick field goals; you need to make every one count.
Although, in Beard's defense, it could be tiring kicking all those extra points perfectly.
The kickoff coverage team still has some work to do as well. According to The Register-Guard, the Ducks came into this game ranked 52nd nationally in this category, and they didn't do themselves any favors against the Huskies.
Finally, in relief of De'Anthony Thomas, wide receiver Chad Delaney muffed a punt return in the fourth quarter.
Not horrible overall, but special teams coach Tom Osborne has some teachable moments to work with this week.
Winner: Colt Lyerla
We are running out of adjectives to describe Colt Lyerla's play and the enormous contribution he is making to this Ducks team.
My brilliant husband noted during this game that Lyerla never fails to drag a tackler at least five yards from the point of initial contact. Watch it next game—he's dead on.
Lyerla has excellent hands, quick feet and refuses to take "no" for an answer.
The good news, Duck fans, is that I strongly suspect you have not yet seen every move Lyerla has.
Loser: Washington Spirit
Enjoy this photo of a Washington cheerleader, because it's the closest thing Duck fans have to seeing one this year.
Unbelievably, the Huskies did not bring their cheerleaders or the bulk of their band to Autzen Stadium this year. No Washington flags. No students leading the team onto the field. What kind of spirit is that?
Did they know something the rest of us didn't?
Is three hours in a car or bus just too much to endure when you're 19 years old?
What's up with that?
Winner: Avery Patterson and All the Ducks DBs
I agree with Lisa Horne: It's getting very hard to come up with new superlatives to describe the Ducks' most excellent play.
I'm particularly struggling with new ways to talk about Avery Patterson and all of Oregon's defensive backs.
Patterson has been nothing short of spectacular in relief for injured senior safety John Boyett. Against Washington, Patterson was the Ducks' second-leading tackler with nine (five solo).
But it was his interception of a Keith Price pass in the first quarter that went for 43 yards and a touchdown—his second in two straight weeks—that set the tone for the entire game.
What fun to see backup DB and redshirt freshman Issac Dixon not only get in the game, but also get a terrific interception off Price.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill each had a pick-six in the Arizona game, which gives the Ducks' DBs four interceptions returned for touchdowns in the last three games.
Loser: Josh Huff
Oh, I can hear you howling.
"But he scored a touchdown!"
Yes, and it was a beauty. A 34-yard reception where most of the work came after he caught the ball.
But Huff is simply not living up to his potential. He missed blocks against the Huskies—one that was crucial and could have really sprung the runner.
On a night when the majority of Duck players were really amped up and flying around, Huff seemed un-energetic and disinterested, almost lazy.
He's better than that, and he needs to start proving it—soon.
Winner: Marcus Mariota
Could this guy get any cooler?
In the biggest game of his young life, Marcus Mariota showed poise, intelligence and great legs. His performance against the Dawgs, while not statistically his best, was arguably his most mature effort.
An early interception off a tipped ball (don't you just hate tipped balls?) would have panicked most other freshmen quarterbacks. But not Mariota. He double-downed, threw for four touchdowns and showed patience and coolness under pressure.
Mariota's head-to-head competition against Keith Price was embarrassing if you were wearing purple. You could almost read the faces of the Washington contingent: "Now we have this guy to deal with for three years?"
'Fraid so, Dawgs, 'fraid so.
Winner: Rob Mullens
University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens was working the parking lot tailgates hard prior to Saturday night's kickoff.
He happened to stop by my tailgate event, and I had the opportunity to share with Mullens—very politely, of course—what many of us think of the string of 7:30 p.m. kickoffs. I suspect he'd been hearing it all day.
He assured us that he's listening and taking the argument to the powers that be—that would be ESPN, in case you're wondering. Most of us are not naive, and we realize that along with the Ducks' national ascent comes some inconvenience. And we will endure 2 a.m. bedtimes happily if it means the Ducks keep winning.
I believe that Mullens is listening to the fans and that he will do everything he can to get you an occasional afternoon start time.
Cruising the tailgates was not something Mullens had to do. He could have stayed safely in his skybox schmoozing VIP visitors like Larry Scott from the Pac-12.
By wading into the fray, Mullens won the day.