After Oregon celebrated their first conference victory and snapped their five game losing streak against Arizona State by a score of 54-35 last weekend, the Ducks headed south to continue their winning streak against the USC Trojans.
Unfortunately for Oregon, the Ducks game plan of coming out fast, scoring frequently, limiting penalties, and taking the loud USC crowd out of the game was nowhere to be found. Near the end of the first quarter, Oregon was already down 17-0 and being dominated by a motivated USC Trojan team.
Even when Oregon started to comeback in the second quarter, USC found a way to regain the momentum, and the Duck’s went into the locker-room at halftime with a score of 6-24.
In the second half, things would not get any better, as the Trojans would continue to dominate the Ducks on both sides of the ball. Oregon would go on to lose to USC by a score of 45-20.
After the game, Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich said, “Tonight is different than other nights, of who you are playing, how they are playing you, and just couldn’t get in any rhythm offensively, that was the problem.” Helfrich also said “There is no margin for error” when talking about the rest of the schedule for the Ducks and chance at a bowl game”.
Oregon’s defense continues to struggle both in the passing and running department (giving up 579 total offensive yards). Furthermore, on 21 separate occasions, the Ducks’ defense missed key tackles, in which the Trojans were able to gain ten or more yards.
And the Ducks continue to struggle in the penalty area (7 penalties for 43 yards) and not convert on third down situations (5-16). This was also the fifth time that Oregon has given up 40 or more points this season.
Oregon freshman quarterback, Justin Herbert, showed great promise and determination (completing 18-33 passes for 162 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions) and was rushed out of the pocket countless times, while taking major hits and losing 14 offensive yards.
After the game Herbert, summed up his performance saying, “I didn’t get the ball out quick enough, the offensive line was good, and we just didn’t get things rolling.” All in all, Herbert said, “No loss is a good outcome, any loss is something to be upset about”.
The Oregon Ducks’ running game struggled to gain long yardage, even though all of the core backs were healthy. Royce Freeman, Taj Griffin, Tony Brooks-James, and Charles Nelson combined for 24 carries, gaining 83 yards, and scored one touchdown.
After the game, Oregon Running Back, Tony Brooks-James commented on the mood of the locker-room, by saying, “sad, down, depressed, a lot of guys are playing with their heads” and “any time you lose there is always room for improvement.”
Oregon offensive weapons Darren Carrington, Jalen Brown, Pharaoh Brown and Charles Nelson also had some trouble getting open down the field, only combining for nine receptions, gaining 109 yards, and scoring one touchdown. And even though Carrington did not lead with receptions, Herbert progressed by making use of his other key receivers.
For USC, Freshman quarterback Sam Darnold exposed major weaknesses within the Oregon defense by completing 28-40 passes, for 309 yards, including two touchdowns, and one interception. He also scrambled away from pressure five times, while gaining 23 yards.
But USC’s running backs, Ronald Jones II and Dominic Davis dominated up front for the Trojans, running all over the Ducks’ defense. Jones and Davis combined for 26 carries, rushing for 199 yards, and scored four touchdowns.
And the Trojans’ top wide receivers found little resistance breaking out into the open field, as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Deontay Burnett, Darreus Rogers, and Taylor McNamara combined for 17 receptions, 177 yards of offense, and two touchdowns.
Overall, this is another bad loss for the Oregon Ducks, who now must win all of the remaining games on their schedule to become bowl eligible.
Next week, Oregon (3-6) hosts Stanford (6-3) at home, and will have to quickly regroup, as they face another run heavy team from the south, including Christian McCaffrey, who is one of the best running backs in the nation.