Oregon’s blowout win marred by miscues

By Matt Walks

As the clock ticked to zero in Oregon’s rout of Tennessee Tech on Saturday afternoon, the scoreboard revealed no surprises. 63-14. Another blowout win for the Ducks over an FCS patsy.

But buried in the box score are several concerns head coach Chip Kelly will likely address with his team before conference play begins next week against the Arizona Wildcats. One issue that plagued the team all game was penalties — 12 for 105 yards, including 4 illegal contact hits that needlessly lengthened multiple Tennessee Tech drives.

“I feel like we’re a very disciplined team,” sophomore running back De’Anthony Thomas said after the game. “We do a lot of things right, and I just feel like sometimes the refs are against us.”

Refs or no refs, the gifts came to the Golden Eagles almost immediately. After forcing Tech to punt on their first drive of the game, Thomas, who was otherwise good for 222 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, called for a fair catch before backing away. After a funny hop, the ball hit Thomas on the hand before Tech fell on it. Two plays later, Tech QB Tre Lamb hit wideout Da’Rick Rogers on a screen pass Rogers would take 23 yards for the score to give the Golden Eagles an early seven point lead.

Even as Oregon broke open the game with seven unanswered touchdowns, the Ducks looked uncharacteristically sloppy at times. There was Marcus Mariota’s first career interception, a rare poor decision for the freshman. There was Rob Beard’s badly blocked field goal from 25 yards out, his second miss of the year. And then there was Thomas’ second credited fumble.

After splitting two defenders, Thomas slowed up as he neared the endzone. Tech defensive back DaJuan Brown jumped Thomas at the goal line, tomahawking the ball out of his hands and into the endzone. Offensive lineman Jake Fisher, who had ran downfield to block, dove on it for the score.

“It’s a teachable moment,” Thomas said after the game. “I gotta finish through the finish line, just like a track meet.” After the play, Thomas had Kelly in his ear.

“If Jake Fisher, our right tackle, beats you to the endzone, I don’t think you’re running full speed,” Kelly said. The quirky score is reflected in Fisher’s stats: zero receptions, one yard, one touchdown.

Another area of concern, however irrelevant it may be, was the play of sophomore quarterback Bryan Bennett, who saw plenty of time in the second half leading the Ducks’ second unit. Similar to the work he did against Arkansas State during Week One, Bennett’s performance was good, bad and at times ugly. A fumble and an interception accompanied two short touchdown runs, the second of which saw Bennett flip end over end into the endzone. The gutsy run made the score 56-14 in the third quarter.

Make no mistake: At no point in this one did the Ducks look particularly vulnerable. But with conference play looming, Kelly and the Ducks have plenty of polishing to do as they look to secure their fourth consecutive conference title.

“(Miscues) are always a concern,” Kelly said. “Winston Churchill said the problems of victory are a lot more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they’re no less difficult.”

Read more here: http://dailyemerald.com/2012/09/15/oregons-blowout-win-marred-by-miscues/
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