Oregon at Stanford Recap and Reactions
Oregon’s game at Stanford was one of the most dominant games Oregon has had since the 2009 USC game on Halloween. Oregon took the lead in the first quarter and never looked back. 8-6 was the closest the game ever got as Stanford was down two to three possessions for the rest of the game.
The defensive line by far was the most impressive unit of the night. The line got penetration in the backfield, stood their ground, and made tackles at the line. Rarely ever did Stepfan Taylor have a semi-truck sized hole to run through and those holes have been there against every other team Stanford has played.
One of the keys I wrote in the preview was that Oregon needs to get Stanford in to passing situations as they ranked in the 40’s in passing S&P+ situations. Stanford had a lot of 3rd and 5 or longer and the defensive line was able to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback. Oregon ran a lot of stunts on the line, blitzed often with a zone coverage, and were able to sack Andrew Luck three times, one of which resulted in a fumble converted for six. Andrew Luck had only been sacked four times all season but the Ducks front seven dominated.
The Oregon defense while not creating turnovers as often as they did last season, were great against Stanford causing three fumbles and intercepting two passes. These plays created short fields for the Ducks offense and resulted in 22 points. The two possession leads Oregon created off turnovers didn’t allow Stanford to continue to run power running plays like traps and treys and forced them to put receivers out on the field who could easily be covered by our defensive backs.
When Stanford was in passing situations Luck was pressured and had to move in the pocket often. In the longer passing situations the Cardinal couldn’t put big tight ends out to catch three yards passes and turn for another yard, they needed their wide receivers to run dig routes and deep hitches. These receivers don’t have the size advantage that the tight ends do and they also lacked speed. So when Andrew Luck was pressured he had to throw to receivers who were tightly covered, resulting in two interceptions.
On offense the Oregon receivers had a big athletic advantage. While Darron Thomas only needed to throw 17 passes, three of those went for touchdowns. Tuinei, who has had troubles getting separation, was able to get open for a touchdown catch (but I don’t know why Oregon doesn’t use him more for deep route jump balls). Huff had a hitch play where the defensive back slipped on the turf trying to keep up and then Huff cut back inside on the safety. De’Anthony Thomas took a screen pass and speed cut two defenders like they were standing still.
I was really impressed with how much of the workload LaMichael James had this game. He averaged 7.3 yards a carry and had 146 total yards rushing and three touchdowns. The line was dominant and seemed almost every rush from the second quarter and later went for at least three yards almost every time. The line easily got to the linebackers letting Oregon’s fast backs in one on one situations with safeties.
This was the most complete game that Oregon has played so far. They are really peaking at the right time and hopefully can keep this up when hosting USC next week. Oregon only needs to beat USC or Oregon State to clinch a spot in the PAC-12 title game, which they will almost assuredly win.