More than a few articles were written about the Ducks and their injuries. With Thurmond III going down, Ward still not playing, and with Thurmond's backup out things looked bad.
Not to mention Masoli was out for the UCLA game letting Nate Costa get his first career start.
But what happened? What can we take away from the game?
First off, ha. All of you who said injuries would hinder Oregon, possibly giving UCLA a victory were wrong.
Costa made a few bad mistakes, including an interception leading to UCLA's only Touchdown. But he also made some great passes.
On defense, Talmadge Jackson fulfills the starting CB role wonderfully, and intercepted a pass for a touchdown today. Paysinger made some great tackles, and the line got UCLA in the backfield more than once.
The first half was terrible for both teams, the scoreboard showing three measly points in favor of UCLA.
But when Kenjon Barner got that 102 yard return for a touchdown...that was the beginning of the end for UCLA.
In fact, check out the third quarter play-by-play:
- 102 yard kick return for a touchdown by Barner.
- Kickoff return for 14 yards.
- Prince throws interception to Talmadge Jackson; returned 32 yards for a touchdown.
- Skip two plays...Prince fumbles it at the 50.
That drive led to a 20 yard pass to Maehl for a touchdown, giving the Ducks all the momentum in the world. It also put the score at 21-3.
Kevin Prince played horribly, and in addition to throwing the defensive TD, he also threw three other passes (I counted) during the second half that were mighty close to interceptions.
Masoli was definitely the right choice for starting quarterback. Costa filled in just fine, but he made some dumb passes. The biggest of which was the pass in his own endzone, where he threw it right at the defender—leading to a touchdown.
Costa played bad in the first half, not impressing anyone. LaMichael James really led the team on offense this game.
Speaking of James...another thing we can take away from the UCLA game is that LaMichael is quickly turning into the heart and soul of this team. He had 152 yards on 20 carries.
LaMichael James had, at one point, only eight yards less than the entire UCLA team. Ouch. That's embarrassing.
He has great speed, his spin and juke ability is fantastic, and he knows how to follow his blockers. And what's the best part? He's a freshman. Oregon has him for three more years after this.
Barner, Alston, and Crenshaw also had some decent runs giving Oregon more depth at running back. All without LeGarrette Blount.
That's something else. The Ducks don't need Blount. I hope he stays on the sidelines, and not on the field. He deserves season long suspension. James and the other three running backs are doing awesome out there.
The Ducks defense kills without our two starting cornerbacks and TJ Ward at safety.
They held Prince to 81 yards passing, no touchdowns, and one interception. No better than Brehaut who had one interception and 64 yards.
Kenny Rowe also got a sack in on Prince.
All in all, the defense played great all the way through. This might have been a much, much closer game if the defense hadn't been this great.
One more thing to take away is Kenjon Barner is a great weapon for the Oregon Ducks.
Barner got 50 yards on four carries, and of course that 100 yard kick return. He gets some good yards every game as a breather for James, but showed himself a threat on special teams today.
Thurmond usually handles the returns, but of course is injured. Barner has done a great job so far, and continues to improve. He'll be here next year once Thurmond is gone, and we can cross special teams off our list of concerns for next season.
All in all I'm thrilled with the win, and there isn't a lot of negatives to this game.
Costa really struggled in the first half, but other than that our team gelled, and came away with the win.