Cal vs. Oregon: 10 Things We Learned from the Ducks' Win over Golden Bears
Amidst a virtual monsoon, the Oregon Ducks were able to take care of business and dominate the Cal Golden Bears by a score of 55-16.
Receiver Bralon Addison was the most electric player of the night for the Ducks. He became the second player in Oregon history to return two punts for touchdowns in the same game.
Additionally, the duo of Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall combined for over 200 yards of offense on the ground for the Ducks.
Sonny Dykes' team struggled considerably throughout the night. The Golden Bears fumbled on its first four possessions of the game and committed five turnovers in the first quarter alone.
Let's take a look at 10 things we've learned from this game.
The Weather Truly Changed the Game
The game was an absolute mess in the first quarter.
Torrential rain and 34-mph gusts made the contest virtually unplayable. Oregon tailback Byron Marshall dropped a pass and fumbled twice on the first possession alone.
Cal fumbled on each of its first four possessions (and lost all four fumbles ultimately). In the first quarter, the Golden Bears committed five turnovers. In particular, Sonny Dykes' squad could find absolutely no rhythm from an offensive standpoint.
As a result, it forced Dykes to bench starting quarterback Jared Goff in favor of Zach Kline. The five turnovers led to 27 first-quarter points for the Ducks. With a 27-0 deficit after the first stanza, the game was essentially over for Cal by that point.
Byron Marshall Is a Capable Option
With Thomas leaving after the first play of the game, Marshall was thrust into the role as the top back.
He did start off somewhat shaky, fumbling twice on the opening possession of the game. However, he became composed and ripped off some great runs.
On the night, Marshall rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He ran with a nice combination of speed and physicality. No one knows the true severity of Thomas' injury. According to "Black Mamba," after the conclusion of the game, he told the media that "I think I just rolled [my ankle]."
Regardless of how long Thomas will or could be out for, Marshall proved that he is a viable option in the event that Thomas can't carry the load as the featured back.
De'Anthony Thomas, Who?
As mentioned in the opening slide, Bralon Addison put on a show.
If only temporarily, he made Oregon fans forget about their diminutive and electric returner. Both of Addison's returns showed tremendous vision. He also displayed an elusiveness that's seemingly associated with any Oregon skill position player.
Addison became the second Duck (the other being Cliff Harris) to return two punts for touchdowns in one game.
Oregon Has Young Talent on the Defensive Line
Oregon's defensive line has become a dominant unit. There's a great mix of veteran leadership (Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli) and athleticism (Tony Washington, Arik Armstead).
Two of the younger talents, DeForest Buckner and Torrodney Prevot, stood out against Cal.
Buckner is an athletic freak at 6'7", 286 pounds. Only a sophomore, he was incredibly disruptive against Cal's offensive line. He constantly applied pressure from off the edge, and even lined up as a defensive tackle in nickel situations.
Prevot is not overly big (6'3", 214 pounds). However, he's lightning quick off of the edge. His long arms and lengthy frame caused lots of problems for Kline in the passing game. He's got to get physically stronger and bigger, but the talent is there for Prevot to become an all-conference performer one day.
Both Prevot and Buckner recorded sacks on the night.
Zach Kline Is a Gamer
Kline was thrown into a very difficult situation.
By the time he entered the game in the first quarter, Cal was down 20-0. The rain was falling in buckets, and the wind didn't allow for much success throwing the football down the field.
Regardless, Kline was gritty. He had a much better pocket presence when compared to Jared Goff. While he doesn't have the vision or accuracy of his fellow teammate, he does have better arm strength. He looked to hurt the Ducks vertically on multiple occasions.
Kline went 18-of-37 for 165 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers are very modest in general. However, he gained valuable experienced going forward. Kline displayed the wherewithal to suggest that he could be an option down the road.
Cal Has a Long Way to Go
Sonny Dykes has a long way to go with this program.
It's evident that a talent infusion needs to exist on both lines. The offensive line didn't get much of a push against Oregon's front. Defensively, the Bears were unable to get pressure on any of Oregon's quarterbacks.
Depth across the board, specifically on defense, needs to get considerably better. It's hard to blame Dykes for the current state of the team. The defense in general has been hit very hard by injury. Expected cogs such as Mustafa Jalil and Brennan Scarlett have yet to be able to participate.
From a positive standpoint, Cal does have strong options at both the quarterback position and at wide receiver. It'll be a process, but Dykes needs time to revamp the roster.
Oregon Is the Cream of the Pac-12 Conference
It truly was status quo for the Ducks in this ballgame.
Oregon scored a touchdown in the first 1:32. By the end of the first quarter, it was 27-0. Tonight's game marked the first time in school history where the Ducks scored 50 points in four straight games.
The offense was explosive, the defense was flying around and the special teams were spectacular. Oregon literally dominated the game in every phase. Mark Helfrich's team did what it was supposed to do by thoroughly dominating an inferior opponent at home.
Oregon has a leg up in the conference at this point. The sublime pace of Oregon's offense seems almost unstoppable for any defense to deal with.
With that said, the Ducks should be considered as a favorite to play in the National Championship Game.
Thomas Tyner Is a Future Star
Quickness, elusiveness and pure speed are attributes of the prototypical Oregon running back.
Those running backs aren't usually 5'11", 201 pounds. A native Oregonian, Tyner is supremely talented.
He flashed his immense top-end speed against Cal and exploited the Golden Bears countless times on the perimeter. Tyner carried the ball 13 times for 94 yards and a touchdown. It was easily Tyner's best game as a collegiate athlete to date.
The emergence of Tyner continues to make Oregon deeper and deeper in the backfield. Along with Thomas and Marshall, Tyner helps to make up a very dangerous three-pronged attack. He should continue to get better and better as the season progresses.
The Depth Is Noticeable
Marcus Mariota had a very underwhelming game, for his standards.
The elite signal-caller went 11-of-25 for 114 yards and two touchdowns. The elements obviously did not help in regards to his accuracy, but there wasn't a sharpness to Mariota's game.
One would generally think that if Mariota were to struggle, Oregon's offense would suffer a bit. The Ducks still rolled up 55 points and could have scored a lot more if not for substituting the majority of its starters.
Oregon relied on players from all units. Tyner and Marshall effectively carried the offense on the ground. Addison was a standout on special teams, accounting for multiple touchdowns.
According to play-by-play announcer Ted Robinson on the Pac-12 Network telecast, 23 players played on defense. Including tonight, Oregon's secondary has allowed only one passing touchdown in 15 quarters of football. Cal's vaunted pass attack only registered 176 yards through the air.
The success of tonight's game truly lends itself to the notion that Oregon is a very deep football team.
Daniel Lasco Is Best Option for Cal at Running Back
Daniel Lasco is the best option right now for Cal in the backfield.
Brendan Bigelow is seemingly not fully recovered from his knee surgery. He's lacking the decisiveness and overall explosive nature from a season ago.
Against Oregon, Lasco led the team in receiving. He caught five passes for 35 yards and rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries. Although a bigger back at 6'1", 200 pounds, he has good speed.
The Woodlands, Texas, native might not have the overall talent of a healthy Bigelow. But for right now, he's the most versatile back on the roster. The ability to catch the ball out of the backfield makes him a more valuable commodity for this team.