UO NOTES: Arizona State brings a strong team to Autzen
Up next for the Oregon Ducks are the Arizona State Sun Devils, which have been rebuilt by coach Dennis Erickson into one of the new Pac-12 Conference's top teams.
They have an athletic, 6-8 quarterback in Brock Osweiler, a top-flight running back in Cameron Marshall and defensive stars in Vontaze Burfict and Jamaar Jarrett.
"Another explosive offense that can throw the heck out of the ball," UO coach Chip Kelly says. "Another challenge for our defense.
"And," he adds, of ASU, "a really, really talented defense that can play. So, it's going to be a battle."
The Sun Devils play Utah on Saturday, before preparing to play the Ducks at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at Autzen Stadium (ESPN).
• The work-in-progress UO defense had its best all-around game of the season against Cal, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti says.
But, again, it was partly because the opposing quarterback (Cal's Zach Maynard) wasn't really accurate with his throws, especially on third down. And, the UO offense exploded in the third quarter of Thursday's 43-15 victory, and scored 29 points in the second half, giving the defense plenty of cushion.
The Ducks' defense did force three field goals in the first half, rather than allow touchdowns, and shut out the Bears for the game's final 36 minutes.
"We gave up some plays, but holding them to three field goals was key," Aliotti says. "I'm very pleased with how we played. The second half I really loved the kids' aggression. We turned up the dial, brought some heat (on QBs) from different places."
He adds: "We should have had 8-10 interceptions, but we didn't. We put good pressure on the quarterback and kept them out of the end zone in the second half."
Cal still managed 465 yards offense, as Maynard and backup Allan Bridgeford combined to go 28 of 60 for 321 yards, and Isi Sofele rushed for 119 yards of Cal's 144 on the ground.
• De'Anthony Thomas (6 catches, 114 yards, two TDs) was the receiving star. But, Josh Huff, after returning from injury for the Pac-12 season, asserted himself with three catches for 54 yards. He had a leaping catch and tumble as a highlight.
"I'm feeling 100 percent healthy," Huff says. "I'm feel like I'm light on my feet and faster."
Says offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich: "He's one of our most dynamic guys. He can play every skill position in our offense."
• Kenjon Barner welcomes the opportunity to get more carries, should LaMichael James (elbow) be out for some time. Barner had a 68-yard run against Cal.
"We're going to be fine," he says. "It's unfortunate to lose LaMichael, for him to be hurt, but it's football, injuries are part of the game."
Barner visited James on the field, after the star back's gruesome elbow injury. Similarly, James helped comfort Barner when he got knocked out on a kickoff return last season at Washington State; James was quite emotional when medical personnel wheeled Barner off the field.
"I didn't know what to say," says Barner, of his visit while James was being treated on the field. "To see a teammate and a friend down, it's not a comfortable feeling."
• Cal coach Jeff Tedford's take on the 2011 Ducks offense:
"They threw the ball better. I thought (we) had a good plan and man coverage and they really exploited us. They protect the passer well and (Darron) Thomas threw the real well. (We) had tight coverage in certain areas and the receivers made some plays and they're very fast. Their receivers are fast."
• This and that: The Ducks were bedeviled by penalties in the opener against LSU, and penalties reared their ugly head against Cal - 11 for 91 yards. ... The Bears finished 5 of 17 on third-down conversions against the Ducks; again, forced to pass, Cal's Maynard didn't remind anybody of Joe Montana. ... James has 4,129 yards rushing in his career, good for fifth in conference history. James has three 200-yard rushing games; USC's Marcus Allen had five in 1981. ... Darron Thomas has TD passes in 18 consecutive games; after his second-quarter interception against Cal, he went 5 of 6 for 95 yards and three scores the rest of the way. ... Cliff Harris had three pass breakups. Once again, he refused to speak to the media; same with linebacker Kiko Alonso. ... The Ducks have won 19 consecutive games at Autzen Stadium, which has now seen 77 consecutive sellouts. ... The Ducks' 43 points were the fewest at Autzen since beating OSU 37-33 in the 2009 Civil War game.