Week 1 Recap: Southern Utah vs Oregon

FINAL: Southern Utah 21, Oregon 77

LINK TO BOX SCORE

LINK TO PREDICTIONS

 

OFFENSE

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: A
That was nice to see again, wasn’t it? A blistering 703 total yards of offense, 355 yards in the air, 348 on the ground. Royce Freeman doing Royce Freeman things to the tune of 150 yards on 23 carries for 4 TD’s. Justin Herbert with a crisp 17/21 for 281 yards & 1 TD. Kani Benoit was the backup, & he still had 7 carries for 107 yards & 3 TD’s. This was Oregon offensive football at damn near its finest. Now, will it stick around?

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A
Ten touchdowns and 700 yards of offense is nice. I wasn’t sure what kind of offense to expect, beyond it heavily utilizing our stud running backs. Now we know a little more: new school power running with a mix of letting Justin Herbert sling it around. For those worried about Oregon losing their signature tempo and being just an ordinary team, your fears have been assuaged. We’re still going to be on the cutting edge of offensive innovation. I’m fairly certain that the play calling was kept vanilla to keep Nebraska and other future opponents guessing.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: A+
Let’s be honest: not much needs to be said here. Any team that loses NFL caliber talent at its weakest position and still puts up a record number of points deserves a day off from scrutiny.

I will say this: I went to one of the open practices, and it was clear QB Justin Herbert has a CANNON for an arm. He was throwing 50 yards through the air with ease. We only got a taste of that this week, but believe me it’s there. We also got to see him use his wheels a bit. He’s no Marcus Mariota — but anyone that is 6’6″ and athletic is going to cover ground. He made smart plays and executed. He looked like everything you want from a young QB.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The offense looked great overall. Royce was back to his 2015 self. Herbert looked he could potentially be a first round pick after next year. The offensive line was fantastic and looks like it will be the best unit on the team this year. I’m still questioning the WR depth, but we should know more in the next few weeks.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A++
Wow. I haven’t screamed that much at a tv in a long time. Well Minus 2 weeks ago when I thought the knight king killed Viserion. But those were screams of fear and Saturday night was pure joy. Impossible to have a better start than Tony Brooks-James returning for a TD. Just like I could see it from the other side of the country last year in the first game that something was terribly wrong, this time I knew in that less than a minute that the ducks were back.

Other amazing offensive performances by Royce Freeman, Justin Herbert and Kani Benoit. The offense was lit! Royce is clearly back to his old self. They seemed focused but relaxed and having fun. Hadn’t seen that in a very long time.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A+
Getting to double figures in touchdowns gets you an A+. Would have been an A++ without the goal line fumble by Tony Brooks-James.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: A
What can I say. Royce is healthy again. The offense line looked good. Herb was making reads down his order of progression. They generally looked great. Have to keep in mind that this was against a sub-par team, but even with that you cannot discount that the offense had its way, all day. Most of all, it was great to see the players having fun again. The sideline was raucous and that spread to the stands. They did everything they needed to do today.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
The run game was SO good the need to pass wasn’t non-existent. Loved seeing so many plays between the tackles, something you can do at will against SUU, but lets see what happens against the rest of the Pac-12.

 

DEFENSE

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: B-
We had a defense, that alone gets a C grade. After a shaky start allowing SUU to march with impunity down the field, the defense found their footing & began to show signs of life, even shutting out SUU in the second half of the game. They aren’t fixed yet, they still can’t wrap up & tackle for $#!t but at least for one night, they were drastically improved over last season. Yes, it was inferior competition, but maybe that’s just what this unit needed to gain a little confidence coming out of last years apathy.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
After that first Southern Utah drive I was worried. But Jim Leavitt’s squad buckled down and used their superior athleticism to make plays. Troy Dye is such a special player, and the middle of the defense looked solid. I’m re-watching the game as I type this and I can’t get over how great he plays. The defense was able to get pressure on the QB, and some missed tackles on sacks were a bit painful to watch. But this defense had a different mentality from last year, pads were popping and passes were being dropped because there was a defender right there. Some questionable PI calls, and I’m just glad that defenders were in the same area code as the receiver. Keep an eye on Thomas Graham, the true freshman is already, quite possibly, our best cover corner and best tackler at that position.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: C-
On the other hand, LOTS could be said here. But I’d rather not. The Good: the front 7, a second half shutout. The Bad: defensive back play. The Ugly: the beginning of the first half, the end the of the first half.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: B
The defense locked down in the second half, but there were still missed tackles. I am cautiously optimistic about the defensive line, especially when they are at full strength. The linebackers still scare the hell out of me, and if we’re starting 190 lbs MLBs come conference play, we’re in trouble. Arrion Springs is the only player I will mention by name because he was complete trash. How he continues to get playing time is beyond me.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: B
While the defense missed a few tackles and had a rougher start they certainly found their grove in the second half with highlights being Performances by Umadi, Dye and Springs. It’s clear that the defense is much improved. Perhaps the “choice of a new generation”? Memo to duck twitter re: the defense. Take a chill pill.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A-
In 2016 the defense had just five scoreless quarters and never more than one in a game. They had two on Saturday night. Things were pretty dicey at the end of the first half but unlike last season they made adjustments and actually played better in the second half. I know, weird, right?!?

 

@BigShaun – Grade: C
I want very much to grade this game versus where the team was last year, because then I’d be able to put all sorts of positive perspective on things. They were flying to the ball. The miscues were way down from last year. The was tremendous improvement. But, I can’t grade them against last year. I have to grade them versus other teams. And I have to take into account the several missed tackled because old habits die hard. And there was flat out a couple of missed assignments. They showed improvement under Leavitt and crew but there is still much more room to improve.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
I was hoping this would be the game to break the “we finally held a team under 20 points”, but nope.  But oh my goodness I loved the fire we saw on Saturday, and it was great seeing our guys doing some of the “pushing around” in the trenches.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: B
TBJ started off the Willie Taggart Era with a boom. 100 yards to the house. Just what was needed to instantly get the crowd into the game. Unfortunately later on a muffed return would spell 7 points for SUU. Those type of mistakes can’t happen going forward & I think TBJ knows that. Don’t expect to see him drop another one like that anytime soon…we hope. Kicking game was on point, 11/11 XP’s, not too tough of a night. We’ll see what happens once we have to actually kick meaninful FG’s. Also, gone is the dumb swinging gate formation & the 2-pt bluff BS. Good riddance.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: B
A 100 yard kick return by TBJ set the tone for the night, and his fumble later on is the only reason I’m giving this unit a B. Aidan Schneider, owner of college football’s finest mustache, showed he’s more than just an accurate FG kicker with some nice kick-offs. Punting has been a major weakness in the past few seasons, and it looks like Adam Stack and Blake Maimone are platooning there. Both had punts over 40 yards, and I’m looking forward to having a punt unit that doesn’t make you cringe.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B-
Aiden Schneider was $$$. Charles Nelson made smart choices on punt return. Our kick offs could have gone a little further, but that’s a minor complaint. Punt team looked fine. Need more data.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
Brooks-James’ fumble is really the only notable thing here, but it’s big. Adam Stack looked like he could be a good punter eventually. I’ll side with Canzano here and say that I’m glad XPs aren’t gimmicky anymore.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A
That kick off return – just nothing better to start the season and Taggart era.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
A touchdown on the first play of the season is pretty cool. And I liked how the punters kicked the ball more than 40 yards. After the last couple of seasons I thought maybe that was against the rules or something. Should have been an A+, but, again, a fumble by Brooks-James lowered my grade. Ball security, TBJ. Ball. Security.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: B
Obviously the 100 yard return was awesome. The fumbled kick off that led to points was the low point. And they sort of balanced each other out in my mind. The grade is how they performed outside of those two extremes, which was as needed.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: B
Maybe the hardest part of football to recreate in a non-contact practice setting, look to see improvement week to week.  And, I *did* call the opening kickoff being returned for a touchdown, I don’t care if you don’t believe me.

 

COACHING

@SwooshMcDuck – B+
It was what you’d expect from a competitive Oregon team playing against a Big Sky Conference team. We aren’t Oregon State, we don’t struggle to beat those kinds of teams on our home field. The best thing to see of the night was a defense that held an opponent scoreless in the 2nd half. Where has that been? Congrats to Coach Leavitt on any adjustments he & his staff made at the half, you deserve that Pepsi, sir. Next week we find out a little more about how the coaches handle increasingly better competition.

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A-
The minus is for all the penalties, and except for that this was a perfect debut. This staff gave a boost of energy to everything. The guys in green and yellow want to play for them, and looking at that sideline makes me think that all the team bonding activities are worth as much as any scheme change.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B…+?
It was week one. With an entirely new coaching staff. Against a middling lower division team. That is to say, obviously we didn’t quite go deep in the play book. To quote GoDucks.com Editor Rob Moseley, they kept it pretty “vanilla.” So it’s hard to really judge them. Even so — it looked like good play calling. Play calling always looks good when you win, of course, but they didn’t do anything openly baffling, and frankly I’m going to take that as a win.

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The only reason they get the minus here is because at times it looked like Herbert was still doing the play action to no one. Offensively, I liked the new wrinkles, and watching Royce run downhill in the pistol definitely got me a little hard. The defense looked much more organized, which helps cover up for the lack of athletes.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A-
No going for two! I liked it. Plus the TagSwag is pretty amazing.

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
Team was ready to play, they didn’t play down to the competition, they made adjustments on defense that actually worked, and no one punched anyone in the handshake line. A nice debut performance.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: A+
I can’t say enough about the first game and the job I think the coaches did. They took a team that didn’t have a whole lot of confidence after last year, that was getting beat up in the media, saw the coaching staff get let go, and reportedly didn’t even hang out together much and somehow seemingly changed the culture in such dramatic fashion that this team came out as a single unit that had tremendous energy and enthusiasm like I’ve never seen on an Oregon sideline before. They team had the “Juice” as Taggs likes to say. I wasn’t expecting that level of mental and emotional turnaround by game one. I couldn’t be more impressed.

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
The attitude was there, the juice was there, now lets see if the corrections are there next week against Nebraska.

*Penalty flag flies in as I’m writing this*

 

OVERALL

@SwooshMcDuck – Grade: A-
A few mistakes here & there, some poor play & technique, but overall a fun game to watch & a great start to getting the bad taste of the final season of the Mark Helfrich Era out of our mouths. Swag Surfin’ seems to be the new “in” thing at Autzen. I don’t get it, I’m old, & white. But seeing the energy back on the sideline, the interaction between players, after last year’s finger pointing & acrimony, it was a welcome respite. Now, the real season begins. BUCKLE UP!

 

@GoDucksTroll – Grade: A
I thought I was being overly optimistic with my prediction of 69 points. Turns out I was selling them short. There is a LOT to clean up yet I can’t think of a more perfect night to start the Taggart era. The team has to brimming with confidence heading into Saturday’s revanche match with Nebraska.

 

@DMDoubleG – Grade: B-

 

@NoNattyForYou – Grade: A+
The performance was good, but it’s really hard to tell how much you can take away from beating the shit out of a middle tier FCS opponent.

 

@UODuckGirl – Grade: A+

 

@JonathanAdams – Grade: A
Pretty much exactly what you want out of this kind of game. No drama, a lot of fun, and a beat down of a team you should, well, beat down.

 

@BigShaun – Grade: B+

 

@WildKingdumb – Grade: A
This game gave me exactly what i thought would happen, though they scored four more touchdowns than I predicted.  If this team can manage getting two turnovers and at least one big play on special teams per game it would be hard to not see them winning nine or more games.

On a side note – I will be stepping back from my role with Matter Of Quack for the time being to focus on an amazing new opportunity working with @GoDucks/@OregonFootball on some special creative projects.  But fear not, @SwooshMcDuck and @BigShaun have this all under control… I hope.

 

 

#GoDucks

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