After losing two weeks in a row and a player’s only meeting to kick off the week the Oregon Ducks came into Saturday’s matchup against Washington State, looking to turn their season around.
While the Ducks typically come out fast and furious to build up a sizeable lead, Saturday’s game definitely didn’t go as planned given that Washington State virtually dominated Oregon with a score of 28-14 at the end of the first half.
Unfortunately for Oregon, things didn’t get any better ultimately falling to Washington State by a score of 51-33. The Ducks have not lost three straight games since 2007 (losing to Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State) when Mike Bellotti was Oregon’s Head Coach. With this third loss, the Oregon Ducks virtually have nothing else to play for, besides their pride.
Four penalties for 42 yards hurt the Ducks, as costly penalties continue to hamper Oregon, Penalties aren’t the only area of concern, the Ducks continue to struggle when faced with third and fourth down situations (going 6-12 on third down and 1-2 on fourth down).
Washington State put up 371 passing yards and 280 rushing yards totaling 651 yards of offense.
Oregon knew that they had to stop Washington State’s running backs Jamal Morrow, James Williams, and Gerard Wicks if they wanted to keep the Cougars under wraps. That plan fell through as Morrow, Williams, and Wicks combined for 35 carries, rushing for 273 yards, and scoring six touchdowns.
In addition to having to contain the running game, the Ducks also had to make sure that they kept Washington State’s top wide receivers from breaking out into the open field. But Jamal Morrow, River Cracraft, Kyle Sweet, Tavares Martin Jr., and Isaiah Johnson-Mack did break loose, combining for 28 receptions and 307 yards of offense.
Luke Falk exploited the Duck Defense, effectively extending the Cougars’ lead from inside the pocket.
Falk completed 36-48 passes, for 371 yards, including one touchdown, and no interceptions. He also scrambled away from pressure five times, while gaining seven yards.
Injuries continue to plague the Oregon defense as defensive leaders Johnny Ragin III and Arrion Springs were both knocked out with leg injuries during the third quarter. Ragin was carted off in obvious pain, and is a tough loss for the Oregon defense, which will result in a freshman replacement.
Oregon’s quarterback Dakota Prukop had a decent game, although he still has difficulty making quick decisions and missed a few big yardage attempts by either under/over throwing the ball to wide-open receivers.
The FCS transfer completed 14-22 passes for 132 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Prukop was forced to scramble away from pressure eight times and gained 13 yards rushing.
The Eugene native - from Sheldon High School- freshman Justin Herbert also made his Oregon debut late in the fourth quarter. Herbert completed 3-5 passes for 70 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. However, he did manage to score his first touchdown, scrambling into the end zone in garbage time.
Oregon Ducks workhorse, Royce Freeman, fortunately made his return from injury for Oregon. Freeman had 19 carries, gaining 138 yards, and scoring three touchdowns. Running backs Tony Brooks- James and Kani Benoit also combined for 52 rushing yards. During the fourth quarter, Benoit went down with an injury, and could be another key loss for the Ducks.
The Ducks needed to provide more opportunities for offensive weapons Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson to help drive the offense and balance out the running game. Unfortunately for Oregon, Carrington and Nelson only combined for eight receptions, gaining 62 yards, and no touchdowns.
Oregon also lost senior wide receiver, Dwayne Stanford, during the third quarter after going down with an apparent leg injury.
Oregon’s coaches and players need to come together and figure out what has to change for the Ducks, especially coming into rivalry weekend against a top ten ranked Washington team.