Pac-10 Week 4 Notes and Observations: Oregon Ducks
Oregon Ducks 3-1 Overall (1-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Oregon 42 – Cal 3
Next Week’s Opponent: Washington State
Does it get any better? Oregon played a near-flawless game at Autzen against the Bears, and the road to the Rose Bowl may pass through Eugene after all. The Ducks have transformed back into the team that many prognosticators expected to see week one against Boise State, and as a result, UO has reclaimed its rightful place in the Top 25. Oregon now has the best resume of any team in the conference, with three high-caliber wins and one very respectable road loss to a top five team.
There aren’t enough game balls to go around, as every unit on the field for Chip Kelly’s team seemed to play well in the beat down of the Bears.
What else can be said about the play of Jeremiah Masoli? Masoli needed to have a big game more than any QB in the conference this week, and he came through in spectacular fashion, completing 21 of his 25 pass attempts (a ridiculous 84% completion rate) for 253 yards and three TDs.
Like many others, I believed TE Ed Dickson was grossly under-utilized in the offensive game plan through the first three games, but that certainly changed Saturday. Dickson put his All-American ability on display, catching 11 passes for 148 yard and all three Masoli TD passes on his way to Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. The entire offense runs smoother when Dickson is involved, as his presence allows for Masoli to establish a rhythm in the intermediate passing game.
LaMichael James continues to shine as one of the brightest young stars in the conference (118 yards rushing, 1 TD), and his explosive playmaking ability overshadowed the great Jahvid Best.
Defensively, Nick Aliotti’s unit was masterful. Aliotti said it best himself, “When the picture turns out the way it did today, its like a Picasso.” The combination of stellar play and those familiar throwback uniforms made me think I was watching one of the great “Gang Green” defenses of the ‘90s.
The defensive line absolutely whipped Cal’s o-line, and the Bears 1-2 punch in the running game went nowhere (Best and Vereen combined for 83 yards rushing). The Ducks also got after QB Kevin Riley all day, sacking him four times and holding him to 12 of 31 passing for 123 yards.
Oregon has reasserted itself as one of the favorites to win the conference, and the Ducks will have a great chance to keep the momentum going as Washington State visits Autzen this week.