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Little Details Plague Oregon’s Trip to Nebraska

NCAA Football: Oregon at Nebraska
Sep 17, 2016; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp (1) scores a touchdown against Oregon Ducks cornerback Ugo Amadi (14) in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Two is better than one, but zero simply doesn’t get the job done. After a touchdown, going for two instead of one is a good idea in principle. It was one of the crazy, never before fathomed, ideas that Chip Kelly brought to Oregon when he arrived in February of 2007. If the game becomes close one extra point can completely change how the other team must play the game. The ducks found out Saturday that though the reward can be high, the risk can be even higher.

Oregon lost to Nebraska 35-32. After getting the first two-point conversion by an athletic Charles Nelson dive, the ducks took an 8-0 lead. This successful two-point conversion was followed by four unsuccessful two-point conversions. If the ducks were to have simply kicked through the extra point after each touchdown they would have tied the game 35-35. If they were to have taken the initial Charles Nelson two-point conversion and kicked the extra point on each touchdown after, they would have won the game by one point.

During the Chip Kelly era at Oregon, the ducks would consistently go for two and were consistently successful. During 2010 they were successful on seven of the eight times they went for two. During 2011 they were five for seven. The ducks were always above the national average on two-point conversion success rate, which hovers around 40%. On Saturday alone, the ducks went one for five. They were unsuccessful more times in Saturday’s game than the ducks were in 2010 and 2011 combined.

“It’s just all based on look,” Helfrich explained. “The situation was exactly how we planned it. We have to coach it better to execute it better.”

The trip out to Nebraska took a toll on the ducks. A toll that they will feel for the rest of the season. Devon Allen, the star wide receiver who just returned from Rio after participating in the 110 hurdles for Team USA, has officially been ruled out for the season. Starting offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, one of only two veterans on the offensive line, has officially been ruled out for the season. Speculation still surrounds starting running back Royce Freeman. A defender seemed to make contact with Freeman’s lower leg during the first quarter of the game. Oregon will not disclose any details about the injury, but the injury was serious enough to keep him out of the final 3 quarters of play Saturday.

Penalties plagued the ducks the entirety of the game. Oregon finished the day with 13 penalties for 126 yards. Compare that to Nebraska’s 5 penalties for only 47 yards and you have a real issue that must be addressed by Helfrich and his staff going forward.

The amount of athletes on Oregon’s roster has never changed. They still have explosive weapons at the skill positions and athleticism across the board. What they are missing is the understanding that it’s the little details that propel teams to greatness.