Ducks take care of business, win 56-7
EUGENE - Another lesser opponent, another blowout. It was that easy for the Oregon Ducks Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks allowed Missouri State to take a 7-0 lead on the Bears' first possession, but that was it for MSU. The Oregon offense was too much, and their defense stiffened for a 56-7 win.
'Our guys focused on the task at hand,' Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. 'These are situations that sometimes can be difficult. And that's what the problem with some teams is. They overlook other opponents. Our guys understood what the deal was. We only had one game this week and it was Missouri State, and they got our full attention.
'We made mistakes; you're always going to make mistakes. No one's going to play a perfect game. But I was proud of our guys effort today. That's the big thing that we're looking for every single Saturday. It's how hard do you play.'
All of the usual suspects shined for Oregon, playing less than full games. LaMichael James had 204 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Darron Thomas was 11 of 15 passing for 206 yards and three TDs. Lavasier Tuinei and Colt Lyerla each had two TD catches. The Ducks finished with 681 yards of offense.
With two blowouts under their belt, the Ducks (2-1) will turn their focus over to Pac-12 play. They open against Arizona on the road next Saturday night.
'It's going to be a battle,' James said. 'And it's like that when you get into the Pac-12 Conference. I'm really happy with the way we played today. But this game is over now. We have to get back here and study film, and we have to go out and play hard. We're going on the road, and it's going to be a tough opponent.'
As Saturday's game began, it appeared that Missouri State - a Division I-AA/Football Championship Subdivision team - had forgotten to read the headlines that it was supposed to roll over and die before the first snap.
On nine plays, the Bears marched 84 yards to the end zone. Quarterback Trevor Wooden exposed the Ducks' soft pass coverage, and the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage when they kept the ball on the ground. Chris Douglas capped the 84-yard drive with a three-yard run up the middle on a trap play.
'The defense let up a little bit, I guess,' said Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner. 'They were just pretty much running off the ball. Usually, we're used to the zone scheme. They were running the same type of offense as our offense. So we were just after them, trying to read it in a different way.'
Whether it was because of Missouri State's well-designed spread offense or Oregon's lackluster defense, the Bears were able to move the ball on Oregon throughout the first half, going into the break with 217 yards of offense.
The Ducks did make adjustments in the second half, suffocating Missouri State and allowing the Bears to gain only 72 more yards. The Bears' most impressive stat was their 185 yards on the ground. Trevor Wooden rushed for 67 yards on 16 carries, Vernon Scott had 50 yards on 14 carries, and Douglas gained 41 yards on 19 carries.
'Missouri State had a nice plan going into the game, and they executed that plan,' Kelly said. 'They tried to stay out of those negative yardage situations. They tried to stay on track and take the two or three yards as they came, and they just incrementally moved the football.'
The Bears' defense did not have the athletes to compete with Oregon's offense, though. MSU could barely get lined up before Oregon snapped the ball. And when the play began, the defense was helpless.
James scored his first touchdown on a one-yard dive up the middle to even the score at 7-7.
Thomas led the Ducks to their next two touchdowns, both through the air. An eight-yard TD pass to Tuinei put Oregon on top 14-7.
On the Ducks' next possession, Thomas guided the Ducks 93 yards on three consecutive passes - to Rahsaan Vaughn for 46 yards, Tuinei for 40 yards and then seven yards and a TD to Lyerla.
James got his second TD with 8:36 remaining in the first half. He took a handoff on the Ducks' 10-yard line and broke to the outside. Utilizing perfect downfield blocking from his receivers, James went 90 yards into the end zone untouched. The run was the longest of James' career, the longest in Autzen Stadium history and the second longest in Ducks history (Bob Smith 92 yards, 1938).
'The offensive line did a great job to get me into the open field, and once I got into the open field, our receivers block really well downfield,' James said. 'That run is credited to (receiver) Justin Hoffman. He did a great job of blocking for me. It was basically a sprint.'
Oregon went into halftime up 35-7, as Tuinei caught his second TD of the game, on a 34-yard pass from Thomas. At that point, Oregon had scored four TDs in a span of 11 plays.
'That's just how our offense is,' Thomas said. 'We're trying to give up nothing on no drives. We're trying to come out and score. And that's what happened today. We went out, put up points. It's just a good job by everybody all around.'
James completed his afternoon with an exclamation point when he jogged into the end zone on a 50-yard TD run.
'I kind of tightened up a little bit,' James said. 'I didn't want to pull anything. So I was just kind of striding it out into the end zone.'
Up 42-7, the Ducks pulled James and Thomas, and it was time to let the reserves have their fun.
'Two weeks in a row we had guys get an opportunity to come in for some quality snaps,' Kelly said. 'They'll get a chance to come in Monday and watch some film and we'll coach them off of the tape, and it's really going to pay dividends for us down the road.'
On his first series, backup Oregon quarterback Bryan Bennett found Lyerla open for a 26-yard touchdown pass, the first TD toss of Bennett's career.
Bennett then found Eric Dungy open along the left sideline for a 22- yard TD pass to put Oregon up 56-7.
Both teams played a conservative and scoreless fourth quarter, keeping the ball on the ground and running the clock.
While the Ducks played a topflight LSU team to open up the season, they will have to hope that after these last two games the preseason was tough enough to get them ready to defend their league championship.
'It better (be),' Kelly said. 'We can't schedule another (game) before we play Arizona.'
MSU 7 0 0 0 - 7
OREGON 14 21 21 0 - 56
MSU - 1st, 10:22: Chris Douglas 3 run (Austin Witmer kick)
ORE - 1st,, 7:21: LaMichael James 1 run (Alejandro Maldonado kick)
ORE - 1st, 3:18: Lavasier Tuinei 8 pass from Darron Thomas (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 2nd, 12:11: Colt Lyerla 7 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 2nd, 8:36: James 90 run (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 2nd, 5:33: Tuinei 34 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 3rd, 13:43: James 50 run (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 3rd 9:32 Lyerla 26 pass from Bryan Bennett (Maldonado kick)
ORE - 3rd 4:45: Eric Dungy 22 pass from Bennett (Maldonado kick) and #8232;