Pac-10 Week 6 Notes and Observations: Oregon Ducks
Oregon Ducks 5-1 Overall (3-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Oregon 24 – UCLA 10
Next Week’s Opponent: BYE
Coming into this season, there were a lot of questions surrounding Nick Aliotti’s defense. How would the d-line hold up, especially now that Nick Reed has moved on? Could the secondary overcome the losses of Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd? Then more recently, who would step up now that Walter Thurmond III and Willie Glasper are done for the season (not to mention the uncertain status of T.J. Ward)?
If the first three Pac-10 games are any indication, many of those questions have been answered. Oregon has been off-the-charts good on D so far in the conference, giving up three points to Cal, six to Wazzu and three to UCLA. The Ducks continue to prove they can win even when the offense isn’t its explosive self.
After a lackluster first half against the Bruins (UO trailed 3-0 at half), Kenjon Barner’s kickoff return TD ignited the Ducks. Oregon fans have to feel good about what Talmadge Jackson (INT return for TD), Cliff Harris, and the rest of the makeshift secondary was able to accomplish in Pasadena.
Of course the other story from Saturday was the continued excellence of RB LaMichael James. James has far surpassed the hype coming out of Eugene during spring and fall camp, and he is quickly developing into one of the best tailbacks in the Pac-10. His 152 rushing yards accounted for over half of the Ducks offensive output. James now has 581 rushing yards (3rd in conference) and four TDs on the season.
QB Nate Costa did not do much (9/17 82 yards, 1 TD 1 INT), but he didn’t have to. Costa’s job was to manage the game, and he did just that. If not for an incredibly athletic play by Bruins LB Akeem Ayers, Costa’s stat sheet would have looked a bit better, but all things considered, it was a solid effort.
The Ducks get a much needed bye week, and this is the perfect time for Jeremiah Masoli and the rest of the injured to fully recuperate. Then it’s off to Seattle for a date with the hated Washington Huskies. One of the Pac-10’s most heated rivalries will finally have some restored meaning, and there should be an electric atmosphere at Husky Stadium in two weeks. If the Ducks escape Montlake with a victory, the Halloween showdown with USC is on at Autzen.