Pac-10 Week 8 Notes and Observations: Oregon Ducks
Oregon Ducks 6-1 Overall (4-0 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Oregon 43 – Washington 19
Next Week’s Opponent: USC
I saw this as a potential trap game for Oregon, but the Ducks couldn’t have cared less. Chip Kelly’s squad put a whooping on the Huskies for the sixth straight season, utilizing excellent special teams, opportunistic defense, and the same creative misdirection on offense that we have come to expect.
QB Jeremiah Masoli may have been slowed a bit by the right knee injury as he prepared for this game, but it certainly didn’t show. Masoli ran the offense to perfection, throwing for 157 yards and 1 TD as well as running for 54 yards and two more scores. It wasn’t really Masoli’s numbers that impressed me, but rather how smoothly the offense ran with him back in the shotgun. Every ball fake was executed well, and Nick Holt’s D was constantly playing a guessing game as a result.
The main beneficiary of all of the misdirection was tailback LaMichael James, who has become a model of consistency in the Oregon backfield (154 yards rushing 2 TDs). James now has 735 yards and 6 TDs and will surely go over 1,000 yards; pretty impressive stuff for a freshman. It was good to see players like WR D.J. Davis (45 yards receiving, 1 TD) and TE David Paulson (59 receiving yards) contribute as well.
The play of Nick Aliotti’s defense continues to be one of the top storylines in the Pac-10 this season for me. I have been so impressed with how this unit has pressured and covered opposing offenses, and the job the D did on Jake Locker was outstanding (forced into throwing two key INTS).
The d-line is playing at an exceptionally high level right now, as are the linebackers, and the makeshift secondary held its own on Saturday against some talented receivers. The only negative from the game was an injury to yet another significant contributor at cornerback (Talmadge Jackson). Certainly, Cliff Harris appears to be a star in the making, but Jackson needs to make a quick recovery nonetheless.
Now comes the game we all want to see. Autzen Stadium will be ready, College Gameday will be ready, the USC Trojans will be ready, and I am now certain that Jeremiah Masoli and the Oregon Ducks will be ready as well. Should be a fun Halloween night in Eugene.