Oregon vs. Colorado: Post-Game Grades and Player Analysis for the Ducks
It was a rainy, cloudy, grey and chilly day in Eugene, Ore., but Autzen Stadium was raucous and full of energy—in the first quarter. The Pac-12 matchup between Oregon and Colorado may have been over before it even started.
The Buffaloes came into Saturday's game with a 1-6 record (1-3, Pac-12), averaging 18.7 points per game. Some odds pinned the Buffs as 47-point underdogs, a spread the Ducks easily covered.
Oregon put up 28 points in each of the first two quarters, and they would coast to their 11th straight win, dating back to last season. They now stand at 8-0 in 2012.
Oregon reserves were in by the end of the first half, and the Ducks rolled Colorado 70-14.
Oregon quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Bryan Bennett didn't have to do much in this one, as a huge early lead allowed the Ducks to run the ball for the entire second half. Dustin Haines even saw some action in the fourth quarter, carrying the ball twice for six yards.
Mariota looked as good and as poised as ever, completing 10-of-14 passes for 136 yards and two scores, adding four carries for 22 yards and one touchdown.
Bennett completed all four of his passes but did most of his damage on the ground. The sophomore from Encino, Calif., ran the ball 10 times for 73 yards and three touchdowns and accounted for the only points for Oregon in the second half.
As a unit, Oregon quarterbacks completed 14 out of 18 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, while running the ball 16 times for 102 yards and four TDs.
That's a fine day regardless of the opponent.
Running Backs: A+
Six running backs saw action against Colorado, amassing a total of 425 rushing yards. Yes, 425. Heisman candidates Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas exploded in the first half. Barner scored the game's first touchdown less than two minutes in on a one-yard run, followed by Thomas who ran in a score from nine yards out 45 seconds later.
The two feature backs combined for 200 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns, three receptions for 56 yards and two punt returns for 70 yards, including an electrifying 73-yard punt-return touchdown by Thomas.
Backups Byron Marshall, Ayele Forde, Bill Chimphalee and Kenny Bassett all saw action in the second half, contributing 125 yards on 26 carries.
Oregon ball-carriers got their fair share of work in this weekend, totaling 57 rushes in the win over Colorado.
Wide Receivers: B
Oregon wide receivers were held quiet for most of Saturday's game against Colorado. The Ducks threw the ball a total of 17 times as they led by a mile for the duration of the game.
Junior Josh Huff led the receiving corps with four catches for 49 yards—the only player other than Kenjon Barner with more than one catch on the day.
Junior Daryle Hawkins and freshman Bralon Addison made use of their lone receptions, both touchdowns from Marcus Mariota.
Tight Ends: D
It's unfair to give an "F" grade to anybody on Oregon when they won like they did against Colorado. The tight ends were nowhere to be seen, mostly due to starter Colt Lyerla sitting out, recovering from a leg injury he suffered last Thursday against Arizona State.
Freshman Pharaoh Brown entered the game and blocked well, but that's the extent of the tight ends' work for this game.
Offensive Line: A+
The Oregon offensive line opened up gaping holes for ball-carriers nearly every play on Saturday. They committed few penalties and protected the quarterbacks, allowing zero sacks on the day.
Junior offensive lineman Mana Greig left the game in the first quarter after suffering what looked like a knee injury. Greig returned later wearing a brace on his right leg. Season-ending injuries are unaffordable to the Ducks line after losing four-year starter Carson York earlier in the season.
Defensive Line: B
Not much excitement for the Ducks D-line against the Buffs. They held the offense in check but did allow two rushing touchdowns and 150 rushing yards to Colorado ball-carriers, mostly starter Christian Powell.
The line failed to get consistent pressure on the quarterback and didn't record a single sack.
But when the final score is 70-14, all that doesn't really matter.
Oregon's linebacking corps gets credit for the lone sack of the game on either side, a Tyson Coleman hit on Jordan Webb for a five-yard loss in the second quarter.
Ducks linebackers used their speed to cover Colorado receivers tightly all game, making it difficult for Webb and Nick Hirschman to find open receivers and for players to get into the open field for big gains.
Derrick Malone grabbed the only interception, picking off Hirschman in the third.
Michael Clay, Boseko Lokombo and company were everywhere on Saturday, smothering white jerseys on contact.
Defensive Backs: A+
The Oregon secondary let nothing past them all game, allowing no touchdowns through the air.
Avery Patterson looked to have scored yet another defensive touchdown when he recovered a fumble and returned it to the end zone on a kickoff, but it was brought back because fumbles on kickoffs can't be advanced. Still, the fumble Patterson recovered led to a De'Anthony Thomas TD run three plays later.
No interceptions for the secondary this time, but their activity and aggressiveness against the Colorado wideouts wreaked havoc and made for a tough day for Buffalo QBs.
Special Teams: A
Oregon special teams was highlighted by DAT's ridiculous punt-return TD in the second quarter. Officially, he ran 73 yards, but it was more like 100 with the added horizontal distance.
Rob Beard hit all 10 extra points, and Thomas and company returned punts well, averaging 28 yards per run back.
Punter Jackson Rice averaged only 28.7 yards per punt, although he did land two of three kicks inside the 20-yard line.
For fourth-year head coach Chip Kelly, it was business as usual on Saturday afternoon. He had his squad ready to play, and they put up their highest point total of the season.
Backup players saw a ton of action, going in as soon as midway through the second quarter and contributed a solid effort.
Kelly and his coaching staff never take a team for granted, going right for Colorado's throats. Saturday's game was a nice warm-up for Oregon's showdown with USC next weekend in Southern California.