Oregon Ducks: Questions Answered

David HedlindAnalyst IISeptember 1, 2008

Everyone wondered how Oregon would do with Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart now in the NFL. They got their answer on Saturday night. For Duck fans the answers were good.

Oregon hung 44 points on bitter rival the University of Washington. Led by running back Jeremiah Johnson and a refurbished offensive line, Oregon was able to control the clock and the game. After suffering a loss at left tackle due to a 1 game suspension of Tupou, Oregon moved players around. The new line proved to work just fine. Johnson ran for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a whole Oregon ran for 256 yards. The question of replacing Stewart was answered quite soundly.

Quarterback on the other hand not only came into the season with questions but the questions started building again. In the fall camp projected starter Nate Costa was lost for the year due to a knee injury. Justin Roper was on Costa’s heels and with Costa going down won the job. After taking just 2 snaps in the game Roper took a shot to the head from a Washington defender which resulted in a concussion. He stayed in a while longer and led the Ducks to 2 scores and threw 7 for 11 and 114 yards. Roper also gave up one interception.

Eventually Roper came out and Oregon went with Jeremiah Masoli behind center. Masoli came out and misfired a few times but had the offense moving down the field before the end of the half. Masoli started the second half and started rotating with freshman Chris Harper. Harper never even attempted a pass but ran for 60 yards and a touchdown. While Masoli was in he threw 9 for 17 and 2 touchdowns.

Roper is less mobile than the either Masoli or Harper but seeing as how Harper never even threw one time means something. Too me it seemed as though Harper was used as a running back that took the snap and could either run it or hand off. Masoli on the other hand was more of a balanced quarterback that passed, handed off and ran effectively.

It appears Roper is cleared to play this week against Utah State and he will likely start. The three quarterbacks provide a different look for Oregon and all three will probably be utilized in the weeks to come, possibly all season.

Defensively the only real question came on Oregon’s interior run defense. That question was answered as Oregon held the husky run attack to 95 yards. Last season the Huskies had 164 yards on the ground. Washington’s do-all quarterback Jake Locker was held to 57 yards. Last season he ran for 78 yards. With this improvement, Oregon looks like they may have one of the better defenses in the conference and maybe the country.

Everyone has been high on the secondary. There are three players in the Duck backfield on the Thorpe award watch list. The secondary came out and showed speed and power . They only gave up 147 yards in the air and held the quarterbacks to less than 50% completion. The ends, Reed and Tuakuafu, putting pressure on Locker allowed the secondary to be where they needed to be all night.

Oregon finished with 496 total yards of offense. They showed a balance attack that had 240 yards passing and 256 rushing. Three different quarterbacks took snaps and all three showed effectiveness. With that kind of production the only question left is how to best use all the weapons you have??