Despite what the masses may think, the Oregon Ducks' season-opening loss to the LSU Tigers is not something to hang their heads on.
First and foremost, the Ducks couldn't establish the running game against an SEC defense as tough as that of LSU's. And as we all know, if LaMichael James can't get it going, it's hard for the Ducks' offense to set up that rhythm that they play with.
Darron Thomas attempted a career-high 54 passes, completing 31 of them for 244 yards, but with James' 18 carries for 54 yards, Oregon's offense was very stagnant.
Second and just as important, the Ducks were plagued with penalties throughout the entire game. With yellow flags in the air on the first three plays, it was only a downward spiral for the rest of the night. At 12 penalties for 95 yards, Oregon was inflicting more damage on themselves than they were dishing out.
Injuries, too, affected both teams in the season-opener. However, none were more important than in the third quarter when both James and Kenjon Barner went down with what looked like foot injuries, leaving the true freshman, DeAnthony Thomas, to fend for himself.
And while Thomas showed shades of super-stardom in the opening minutes of the game, his back-to-back fumbles on a rushing attempt and a kick return proved to be the dagger that the Tigers needed to put away Oregon for good.
Couple those mishaps and miscues with the players that graduated last year, and you've got a semi-rebuilding phase that the Ducks need to push through quickly. With Jordan Holmes, Bo Thran and C.E. Kaiser leaving the O-line, Oregon had three fresh faces in the lineup. And when Mark Asper went down for a few minutes, it looked very dull for Ducks fans.
The Ducks have the rest of the season, including games against way lesser opponents to break in their new faces. Chemistry will develop and their stud in DeAnthony Thomas will begin to shine on a consistent basis. Once they get it all together, which shouldn't take more than a few games, the Ducks will be back to their title contending selves.