No. 17 Oregon defeated No. 7 Washington via the Cristobal way

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

The Ducks were six yards from the end zone in the first overtime. It was third down, and a touchdown would defeat the No. 7 Washington Huskies.

Oregon was planning on passing the ball, but Washington countered by playing six defensive backs, so right before the snap, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal ran down the sideline and called a timeout.

“I almost pulled a hamstring sprinting down there on the sideline,” Cristobal said.

Two starters on the O-line had already been injured, and freshman running back CJ Verdell was carrying the load. So they called an inside zone. Verdell ran through the line and into the end zone, and the No. 17 Ducks defeated the No. 7 Washington Huskies 30-27.

Cristobal took the ball out of star quarterback Justin Herbert’s hands, and he put his faith in Oregon’s ability to push one of the Pac-12’s best run defenses. It wasn’t the only time. He consistently ran it on every down, no matter the situation. Despite the injuries, the Ducks ran to victory with a wounded offensive line.

“I call them Moses because, as a group, they just love to open up like the Red Sea,” running back Travis Dye said. “I give them all the credit.”

But the Ducks didn’t win with anything biblical or through divine intervention. They won with physicality. The Cristobal way.

“Coach Cristobal just told us that we are a downhill team, and we were going to keep running downhill,” Verdell said. “I was just glad the coaches put their trust in me to run the ball.”

Right guard Dallas Warmack went down with an injury in the first half. He returned but went down again and did not return. Freshman left tackle Penei Sewell also left during the first half. He returned in the second but got hurt again and could not come back.

After this, Oregon shifted its O-line. Calvin Throckmorton moved from right tackle to left tackle, Jacob Capra came in at right guard and Brady Aiello went to right tackle.

“We trust Brady Aiello and we trust Capra,” Cristobal said. “We consider those guys in our circles co-starters.”

The numbers agree. Oregon continued to run the ball, finishing with 17 more runs than passes. Oregon’s runs weren’t for long gains. The Ducks only had one run over 10 yards, but they chipped away, never doubting the strategy, even when it didn’t always work.

“If you watch the structure of our practice, it is completely designed to improve fundamentals and technique, and a huge portion of that is making sure we know how to win the line of scrimmage,” Cristobal said.

The offensive line vouched for Cristobal to become Oregon’s head coach when he was a candidate. Through Oregon’s game plan against Washington, Cristobal vouched for them. A win against a Pac-12 rival and a top-10 team makes the work pay off.

“It validates all of their work, their investment,” Cristobal said. “It validates their trust and belief with everything that they’ve gone through. … When guys do this, and they see this kind of result, and they have this unbelievable feeling with their teammates and accomplishment, it’s a life changer.”

What would Cristobal do if Verdell fell short? Guess.

“We were going to go for the win,” Cristobal said.

Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917

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