Week 8 Recap: Oregon vs California

FINAL: Oregon 49, California 52

LINK TO BOX SCORE

LINK TO LAST WEEKS PREDICTIONS

OFFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
450 total yards (258/pass, 192/run) isn’t too bad, but being 4/13 on 3rd down is.  But this week is graded on a curve, Oregon showed confidence late in the game and that has to stand for something.  It stands for a “B” grade from me today.  The Ducks had every excuse to fold up the season and just “go away”, but they didn’t.  Justin Herbert’s post game emotions were a welcome relief from the poker-faced “we’ll get em’ next time” facade that usually comes after a tough loss.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: B
Jumarcus Herbiota came out to play! (mostly in the 2nd half, but finally!). Herbert had a quite solid game to the tune of 22/40 for 258 yds, 6 TDs & 1 INT. He’s still struggling on the deep over-the-top passes, consistently overthrowing them by 5 yards or underthrowing them by 2 yards. But, on the short to mid crosses & slants, he’s on the money more often than not. He doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but it has markedly more speed on the ball than Prukop did. On the rushing side of the ball, Tony Brooks-James continues to be the feature back & he’s keeping the offense alive by giving it multiple types of attack. Royce Freeman who? No really, where did he go? 15 carries for 10 yards? Something is wrong there. Royce stated after the game, in a short almost curt way, that he’s fine & it was a coaching decision to limit his touches. Anyone watching him all night can see something is physically wrong with him, he wasn’t able to breakaway from defenders, often appearing to be struggling to find any burst of speed. Royce doesn’t strike me as someone to just give up & not care, so there’s definitely some physical ailment he’s dealing with. The receiving corp remains buoyed by Charles Nelson & Darren “Subtweet” Carrington remains largely overlooked & often overthrown.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
The Ducks scored two touchdowns in every quarter after getting shut out in the opening frame, but the big news was Justin Herbert throwing for six touchdowns. SIX! Herbert started out pretty rough, and with a sputtering Rolls Royce it wasn’t looking good. I came into the week very skeptical and by the start of the second quarter I was wondering if Helfrich was thinking about getting Prukop in there. But then Herbert got comfortable and got some confidence. The last interception wasn’t a great decision, but for the first time since the Virginia game we saw shades of a great Oregon offense. This also followed the pattern of Tony Brooks-James being more effective than Royce Freeman, who looks hurt and like a shell of his usual steamrolling self. The offensive line picked up some big penalties, but looked better; there has been some playing time changes on the unit and they looked much better in pass protection. Cal’s defense is awful, but hopefully this builds up Herbert’s and the team’s confidence.
Player of the game: Justin Herbert. Six touchdowns is nothing to scoff at, and he demonstrated being more comfortable in the offense with some nifty running.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: C+
Oregon’s total offense vs. Cal was less than Oregon State’s rushing yards vs. Cal. Scoring touchdowns on four of six possessions in the second half was very good, and at times the old tempo reappeared. But the inability to run the ball more effectively ultimately doomed them; they’re not going to win if their freshman QB has to throw the ball 40 times.

Two match-ups ending with red zone INTs when just settling for a FG extends the game is making me not like this sport very much right now. And I have a terrible suspicion that this is all leading to a conservative endgame scenario that concludes with Oregon missing a chip shot field goal to force OT at some point over the next five weeks.

@PDuckie83 – Grade: (Below)

I feel the need to recap two different “games” because it felt like I was watching two different teams. The first half team I’ll call the Ducks, the second half team I’ll call the MegaDucks.
Ducks: C
And only because of Justin and those TD drives. The rest of the offense was mediocre at best.
MegaDucks: B+

FINALLY! Some fire, some speed, some passion!!! These are the boys I remember and their flash of brilliance reminded me of all the reasons I truly love them. Also, Freeman needs to heal – stop putting him in! And as much as that interception hurt at the end, seeing Justin in tears proved that he’s a true leader. I’m so excited for the future! 

DEFENSE

@WildKingdumb – Grade: C
For a defense that hasn’t played well by any metric, the effort was there against Cal.  I feel defense is equal parts SCHEME & DESIRE.  You have to be in an alignment that works and then you have to WANT to be tougher than the guy across from you to bring him down. If I am to just repeat what I keep reading “Oregon doesn’t have the guys on defense to make Hoke’s scheme work”.  Well if that’s the case, shame on someone for not getting these guys equipped with a scheme that could help make them successful.  But I, as a non-player or coach, saw a defense that had the desire to get the job done… they couldn’t always execute, but they had the passion to fly to the ball.  And as a Ducks fan I finally got to feel a feeling that’s been missing this season: pride.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: D (as in Disaster)
325 yds in the air. 311 yds on the ground. I don’t even know what to say anymore because it’s a broken record & a broken defense at this point. Yes, they stepped it up in the 2nd half, playing a variation of something called “defense” that if played for the first 30 mins of a game, wouldn’t lead to a 17 point halftime deficit & the much stronger chance of winning football games. Maybe we should just omit grades & recaps for the defense until it actually shows overall improvement for an entire game. Oregon hasn’t forced a turnover in since the 3rd Quarter of the Colorado game. That’s bad. That’s really bad.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: C
I am now taking the advice of a professor I had junior year who said he had to grade with a curve because if he graded us fairly one of the awful people who raised the awful people we’ve become would show up and complain and it’s just easier to avoid this.

We got three stopped drives in a row, including some three and outs that changed the game. The guys played with emotion. True freshmen Troy Dye and Brenden Schooler continue to be the best players on this team. Jimmie Swain played well for the second game in a row, and walk-on linebacker Kaulana Apelu had some moments. Cal ran 118 plays, these guys were on field a lot. It was nice to get Jalen Jelks back, he’s our best defensive lineman by far.

The bad news was giving up 636 yards and a continuation of an inability to tackle. It boggles the mind that there are only 4-6 guys on the field who can make a tackle consistently. Cal’s running game was better than ours tonight. We need to see that second half defense more often, as well as some turnovers. A program that is used to causing a ton of fumbles is last in all of FBS in forced fumbles. We have a negative turnover margin, something that used to be unheard of for Oregon football.
Players of the game: Troy Dye and Brenden Schooler. They combined for 35 tackles. Dye attacking the offensive line with speed is the only aggressive thing this defense does well. Dye is special, every week he proves it. Schooler is what a porous defense needs, a backstop who can cover a lot of ground.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: C. (F in the first half, A in the second half)
Holding Cal to 11 second half points was almost unbelievable, and they put Oregon in a position to win in OT when the forced a field goal in the second extra period. But they dug themselves too big of a hole during the first half. And they once again made a mess of the last possession of the first half (TD) and first possession of the second half (FG…Progress!). Five of Oregon’s opponents have scored on their final possession of the first half, and six have scored on their first possession of the second half. Even worse, four teams (Nebraska, Colorado, UW, and Cal) have ended the first half with a score then opened the second half with a score without Oregon having the ball in between. That’s how you lose three games by a total of nine points.

@PDuckie83 – Grade: (Below)

Ducks: D-
I mean… what else can be said about this defense?? I feel like I’m a broken record. Did Cal even punt? I remember a time when people asked the same about our Ducks.
MegaDucks: D+
A bit better but still not impressed. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

@WildKingdumb – Grade: C
Oregon has some of the best athletes in America.  But like any usuful weapon, its only dangerous when its pointing in the correct direction.  Everytime the Ducks go out to field a punt I swear I hear a faint hint of music coming over the broadcast. Oregon has TOO MUCH skill to be this ineffective on Special Teams.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: C
We have a punter who can punt & a kicker who can make XP’s. That’s pretty much it from this one. Darren Fumblington probably shouldn’t be the return man, just saying.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
Darren Carrington is the safe punt returner because he’s less likely to fumble than Charles Nelson. Yet he almost lost a fumble. Nothing dynamic from special teams, just the usual excellent place kicking and sub par punting. I looked at NCAA net punting statistics, and Oregon is near the bottom at a net of 38 yards despite giving up very few return yards. Utah leads the nation in net punting, nearly 10 yards better. Perhaps it’s time to consider getting a rugby style punter.
Player of the game: Matt Wogan. He kicks the football far.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: B
The punt team was terrific, as Cal recorded zero return yards. I wish there was a way to make teams pay for the pooch kickoffs, but I think the fair catch is the right move, unfortunately. Darren Carrington was kind of a mess as a punt returner, and maybe fair catches are the best move there, too.

@PDuckie83 – Grade: C

C for effort? 

COACHING

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
As a fan that’s frustrated with results one thing you can ask for is change… and this week you saw some.  It looked like Mark Helfrich might have been calling, or assisting, in calling plays from the sideline.  This is good.  I don’t know if Helfrich is better at calling plays then Matt Lubick but it appeared that the coaching staff was trying to switch up what hasn’t been working.  I think one of my biggest gripes about this year has been, my perceived, lack of adjustments on the defensive side of the ball.  Nothing seems to change week to week, or first half to second half… until this week.  The passion and fire was amped up and as a paying Season Ticket Holder I appreciate that.  Holding Cal to 10 points in the second half was something to be proud of, and like I said earlier… I am grading this week on a curve.

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: F (ire Helfrich)
Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Who cares what grade is given at this point, right? We can all see the writing on the wall (and on the check of the buyout). Helf is a lame duck (no pun intended) at this point. His postgame comments were rife with emotion. The emotion of a man who has seemingly become resigned to the fact his tenure as Head Coach is coming to an end. Helf is a great man, a great person, someone who wants the best out of everyone and wants the best for everyone. He’s just not the man who is going to keep the program at the height it was, nor bring it back from the depths it finds itself in now. Head coaches are people. Coaching is a job. Think about this the next time you feel like popping off on your social media accounts about or at coaches. Think about that the next time you make a mistake at your workplace, should you be cursed and screamed at or worse for making a poor decision or not living up to expectations put upon you? The vitriol with which some people continue to spout at the staff is disgusting, and many of you should take a step back & look at yourselves or your loved ones. Would you want that done to you or the ones you care about? I doubt it. Yes, coaches are highly paid to win football games. There’s a keyword in there everyone should remember, “games”. That’s all they are. Not life. Not death. Nothing more than entertainment in the form of sport & competition. Directors & actors are highly paid to make films & television. When they suck, I don’t see many of you screaming at Zack Snyder (Batman vs Superman, The Watchmen) to kill himself or fu*k off forever. AND HIS MOVIES ARE FU*KING TERRIBLE! It’s okay to love this game. It’s okay to love these players. It’s okay to hate them or dislike them too. But at the end of the day, remember where sport, entertainment, and games fall in the grand scope of life. It shouldn’t be THAT serious. God bless and Go Ducks.

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: C
I was waiting for when we would get to see Helfrich with a big play sheet and some personnel changes, and it happened this week. I don’t know who was calling the plays, but for most of the game the offense was good enough. I also have to give the staff credit for keeping these guys’ heads in the game, down big coming out of halftime they rallied and I didn’t expect to see that from this team.
I think Herbert’s performance sealed the return of this coaching staff for next year, but there are still changes that will be made. Bye bye, Ron Aiken.

I’m not into defending Helfrich anymore, but we should keep in mind that this is a very injured team. Losing Crosby, Allen, Stanford, Ragin, Benoit and having a beat up Royce Freeman is less than ideal.

@JonathanAdams – Grade: C-
First time in a while the team looked better after halftime. That was a nice change. Have to wonder what Royce Freeman looked like in practice this week, because it seemed clear to me that was something was wrong early on. Giving him 15 carries was about 10 more than I thought he needed.

@PDuckie83 – Grade: D

We have a young team – sure. But our problems are based on more than just a young team. Just sayin.

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