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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's The Oregon Ducks' Passing Game

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 26: Jeremiah Masoli #8 of the Oregon Ducks sets to throw a pass in the second quarter of the game against the California Bears at Autzen Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon.. The Ducks upset the Bears 42-3. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Bleacher ReportAnalyst ISeptember 30, 2009

The sky surrounding Autzen Stadium couldn't have been a more pure blue this past weekend, as the Oregon Ducks forcefully completed their journey of redemption after manhandling the California Golden Bears 42-3.

For those who missed any of the action, all one needs to do is look toward the skies.

That's right folks. Oregon's passing game has woken up from it's long hibernation.

The Oregon Ducks came out firing on Saturday, as Jeremiah Masoli erased all doubt surrounding the combined performances of the season's first three games by completing 21 of 25 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

Preseason All-American Ed Dickson was the recipient of Masoli's three touchdown passes, and should see his stock rise, not only on the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end each season, but also in the NFL draft.

The Ducks were also able to run the ball very well against the Golden Bears' defense.

Redshirt freshman LaMichael James ran for 118 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, recording his second consecutive 100+ yards performance.

But if any part of the Oregon Ducks' team deserves more credit than any other, it is without a doubt the Ducks' defense.

California running back Jahvid Best, a heisman hopeful, was held to a meager 55 yards rushing on sixteen carries.

Kevin Riley, who graduated from Beaverton High School in the Portland Metropolitan Area, only completed 12 of 31 passes. Most of those incomplete passes were not overthrown by Riley or dropped passes by his receivers.  Instead, they were broken up by the Ducks' secondary and linebacking corps.

For the record, the Ducks played the entire game without their two best players in the secondary, T.J. Ward and Walter Thurmond III.

Ward will return this season, possibly this week after sustaining a high ankle sprain in Oregon's 19-8 opening game loss to the now No. 5 ranked Boise State Broncos.

Thurmond, however, is done. He underwent season-ending knee surgery this past Sunday. Thurmond injured his knee on the opening kickoff against Cal.

This puts more pressure on Oregon's defense to preform the way they did against Cal for the rest of the season.

Where do the Ducks go from here?

By Chip Kelly's mantra, it's one game at a time.

This is the way it should be. Coach Kelly is doing an excellent job of instilling high-quality character in his athletes—aside from the whole LeGarrette Blount incident, but that is water under the bridge.

The Ducks need to focus their attention on this week's upcoming matchup against the Washington State Cougars.

The Cougars may have only won one game so far this year, but as the Washington Huskies proved in Week Three, any team from the Pac-10 is capable of beating another Pac-10 opponent.

The only major flaw in Oregon's performance against Cal was turnovers. The Ducks committed three, and had they not, the spread could have been even larger.

Look for Oregon to come out firing early against Washington State.

The Cougars are young and vulnerable, but then again, after the first quarter, their defense only let USC score seven points.

Oregon is poised to make a run at the Pac-10 title, but they will need to take their season one game at a time if they want to achieve this goal.

As Head Coach Chip Kelly stated, "The only thing we have done is given ourselves the opportunity to finish 3-9."

Kelly couldn't have stated it any better than that.

As long as Oregon keeps up their one-game-at-a-time approach, they will achieve greatness.

 

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