To nobody’s surprise, Oregon opened the season Saturday with a 66-3 win over Nicholls and racked up 500 yards on the ground in the process. Here are three things we took away from the opening week win.
Oregon’s Offense is Still Loaded
The numbers here are downright scary: 772 yards of total offense. Three players with over 100 yards on the ground. Zero punts. Zero turnovers. Zero missed field goals. But for all of that, the Ducks’ effort on the offensive side of the ball did leave some room for improvement, at ‘least in the eyes of the coaches.
“Welcome to Oregon football,” first year head coach Mark Helfrich said. “You win 66-3 and there’s a little bit of…desire to do better.”
The offense was held scoreless for the last six minutes of the second quarter and almost the entirety of the third until Byron Marshall burst into the spotlight with a 49-yard touchdown run that gave Oregon a 45-3 lead.
“It definitely got sloppy in the second and third quarter,” Josh Huff said. “It felt like we played down to their potential.”
Marshall finished with 124 yards on just eight touches, far fewer than many expected he’d get. Instead, it was De’Anthony Thomas shouldering the majority of the load, racking up 129 yards on 18 physical carries.
“I feel great out there,” Thomas said. “I’m looking forward to (practice on) Monday.”
Referees Will Not Hesitate to Call Targeting
It didn’t effect the Ducks too much, but Terrance Mitchell was ejected in the first quarter for targeting a defenseless player. Mitchell hit the Nicholls quarterback high as he was going into his slide and referee Jack Wood was quick to asses the penalty.
“I think that rule is very tough,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “I think it should have been a penalty, but I don’t think he should have been ejected, and I don’t mind saying that…That rule is one that’s going to be tough for a lot of us coaches.”
The call was a chance for the team to see how the rule will be enforced–not that anyone felt Mitchell had any malicious intent on the hit.
“It kind of threw us all for a loop a little bit,” Huff said. “We know the type of character he is and we know he didn’t mean that kind of stuff.”
Oregon’s Defense is Pretty Good, Too
Unsurprisingly most of the talk post-game centered around the Ducks’ dominant offensive performance, but the defense took care of business too. Nicholls ran the ball 37 times for less than three yards per cary and went backwards eight times.
The Ducks gave up 343 yards of offense but were on the field for 87 defensive snaps.
“We were on the field longer than we needed to be,” Aliotti said. “That was a function of us–our offense is either three and out or three and in and to me it was a lot of in, so we couldn’t get off the field.”
Despite being on the field for more than twice as much time as the Duck offense, Nicholls was forced to punt seven times and lost two fumbles.
“They threw the ball 50 times for 250 yards,” Aliotti said. “That’s five yards an attempt. Five yards an attempt, not five yards a completion.”