Oregon Ducks Football: Report Card From Game 2
After a disappointing Week 1 loss to LSU, the Oregon Ducks needed to have a big game against the Nevada Wolf Pack. It is safe to say that the Ducks have bounced back after a 69-20 beat down of the Wolf Pack.
Although the game was extremely entertaining for most Oregon fans, the Ducks did not play a perfect game. With the Pac-12 opener less than two weeks away the Ducks still have plenty to work on before they can contend for a Pac-12 title.
Here are the grades for the performances of every position on the Oregon team in their victory over Nevada.
Heading into the Nevada game last Saturday Darron Thomas had a lot to prove to the Oregon faithful and he responded in a big way. Thomas had one of the best performances by a quarterback in Oregon history, tying the school record for most touchdown passes in a game with six.
What was most impressive about his afternoon was the way he distributed the ball to so many different players. Nine different players caught a pass from Thomas, which included several newcomers.
Against Missouri State this week Thomas should have no trouble putting up similar numbers and look for backup Bryan Bennett to see the field even earlier.
After a terrible performance against LSU the Ducks backfield showed up to play against a weaker Nevada team. Despite Kenjon Barner’s absence the Oregon running backs accumulated 216 yards on 35 carries.
Not surprisingly, LaMichael James didn’t see much action after Oregon took an early lead but he did find ways to contribute in all areas of the game. James managed to get into the end-zone on the ground, through the air and on a punt return.
Some good news for Duck fans was the breakout performance by freshman DeAnthony Thomas who racked up 81 rushing yards, 93 receiving yards and two scores. Most importantly the Oregon running backs did not fumble the ball once.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Last week the Oregon receiving corps dropped a lot of catchable balls but against Nevada they made some spectacular catches. A lot of different players got valuable playing time, which will help as the season progresses.
Newcomers Rashaan Vaughn and Colt Lyerla each found the end-zone on a Darron Thomas pass and should be recipients of even more down the road.
The Ducks did a good job running after the catch as well as looking the ball in, but on a few plays Thomas put a little bit too much mustard on the ball for his receivers to secure it. All in all the receivers and tight ends had a good showing on Saturday and should continue to build on their chemistry with Darron Thomas.
Although they did not play a perfect game, the Oregon offensive line did a much better job at opening up running lanes for the Ducks’ backfield. In addition they did not give up a sack for the second straight week, which is very impressive.
The biggest difference came on first down where the Ducks averaged about five yards per rush. This allowed the offense to develop a flow, which helped Darron Thomas and the passing game.
Saturday was a good sign of things to come, as the offensive line should continue to get better every week as they get more comfortable with each other and see different defenses.
The final score of the game makes it seem much more lopsided than it actually was. Nevada was able to move the ball on Oregon during several drives as they racked up 516 yards.
Despite the fact that the Ducks defense was on the field for more than half the game, they shouldn’t be giving up that many yards to a team with a rookie quarterback.
At points on Saturday the Ducks’ defensive line looked to be outmatched, as Nevada averaged 4.9 on first down rushes in the first half and 7.3 in the second half. With the Pac-12 regular season just around the corner, the defensive line has a lot of work to do before they face bigger and faster offensive linemen.
Thanks to a so-so performance by the defensive line, the Oregon linebackers saw a lot of action. The unit looked good but seems to lack the depth that they have had in previous seasons.
This could be a problem with the injury to starter Michael Clay. Luckily the injury isn’t thought to be season threatening. This week’s game against Missouri State should give the Oregon coaching staff a good opportunity to examine the depth of the linebacker unit.
Outside linebacker Boseko Lokombo capped off a good game with an interception return for a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game.
The big news of the game was Cliff Harris’s reinstatement to the football team. Although he did not start, he saw the field with the second team.
Having Harris back on the field is huge for the Ducks, although it is still unclear when he will be back in the starting lineup.
In his absence, his reserves played well but lack the big play ability that Harris brings. The Ducks’ secondary held Nevada’s rookie quarterback to 60 percent passing, most of which were completions of ten yards or less.
With Harris back Oregon’s pass defense should improve immensely, which will be very important as they face the great quarterbacks of the Pac-12.
Against LSU, special teams was one of the major reasons why the Ducks lost the game. That was not the case against Nevada. LaMichael James filled in for Cliff Harris returning punts and did so admirably by returning the only punt for a score.
The kicking game looked solid, although there wasn’t much to grade since Oregon did not kick a field goal.
The most important thing here is that the Oregon special teams did not give away field position or hurt the teams productivity.
Needless to say the Oregon coaching staff had a lot for their team to work on following their embarrassing loss to LSU. Based on the result from the Nevada game it appears as if the Ducks listened to their coaches.
The Ducks were much more disciplined this week as they only had three penalties, compared to the twelve they had against LSU. In addition, Oregon did not turn the ball over once, which enabled them to maintain good field position and put the ball in the end-zone repeatedly.
Moving forward it is important that the Oregon coaching staff keeps their players focused on each individual game, because the season is far from over.