Oregon's players and coaches had little time to rest
and enjoy Saturday's win over UW, already looking ahead to Friday at Cal (7:15
p.m. PT, Fox Sports 1).
By Rob Moseley
Perhaps it was the glow of another win over
long-time rival Washington, the Ducks’ 11th straight in the series.
Whatever the reason, reviews of Oregon’s 45-20 win over the Huskies on Saturday
have generally been quite positive.
As just one example, the Ducks moved up in the
polls Sunday. Oregon rose three spots to No. 6 in the AP
poll of media, and two spots to No. 7 in
the coaches’ poll. The first College Football Playoff selection
committee poll will be released Oct. 28.
Inside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, coaches
worked feverishly to grade film as a short week of preparation begin for a
Friday game vs. California at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (7:15 p.m.,
Fox Sports 1). UO coach Mark Helfrich said that process began
Saturday night, and while there was much to like from the victory, he stopped
short of agreeing when asked at a press conference Sunday whether it had been
Oregon’s most complete performance of the season.
“We’re playing better,” Helfrich allowed. “And
that’s encouraging. Definitely not our best; we certainly hope it’s not our
Helfrich said the Ducks definitely tackled
better than they had recently, holding the Huskies to 3.7 yards per carry on the
ground and allowing only one pass play longer than 18 yards. Offensive line play
wasn’t as consistent as a week earlier at UCLA, but the Ducks overcame that
thanks to a big game by freshman running back Royce Freeman, who ran for 169 hard yards and
four touchdowns, breaking numerous tackles along the way.
As the Ducks (6-1 overall, 3-1 Pac-12) move
forward, Helfrich said their return game could stand to improve, on both
kickoffs and punts. He said the return units have sometimes been just a single
missed assignment away from a huge play, but those breakdowns are enough to
limit long returns.
Credit for Oregon’s strong two-game win streak
since the loss to Arizona goes in part to what Helfrich called “a grittier edge”
to practices the last two weeks. “I think it’s more of a mindset and an
attitude, more than different drills or anything like that,” he
In the postgame locker room Saturday night,
just before the Ducks capped their victory celebration by singing the fight
song, Helfrich implored them to maintain that edge. “Keep believing in the
process,” he told the Ducks, “and we’ll be singing a lot.”
Freeman’s heavy workload of 29
carries, the most by a UO back in two seasons, will not become a trend,
if Helfrich gets his preference.
Sophomore Thomas Tyner had three carries before leaving
the game for good in the first half, and Byron Marshall was used primarily at
receiver, where the Ducks were without Keanon Lowe. Thus, the second-most carries by
a UO running back against Washington were the six by senior Kenny Bassett, a former walk-on who earned a
scholarship for this year and like Marshall doubles as a slot
Helfrich said the Ducks would like to get back
to the balance they had in previous weeks. “We need the committee,” he said.
“For us, that committee’s good. But there are going to be things that happen in
games, whether it’s game-plan related, readiness related, guys are going to have
to carry the load differently.”
Bassett, a valuable member of the kickoff
coverage team, ran for 20 yards on his six carries and was also solid in pass
protection, Helfrich said. “The guy’s a great ‘team’ guy,” the coach added.
“Unbelievable special teams player, knows multiple positions offensively and has
definitely earned some consideration for future relevance.”
For several weeks to start this
season, Oregon got labeled a second-half team. The Ducks outscored
South Dakota 21-0 after halftime, overcame a deficit to Michigan State with a
28-3 advantage in the final two quarters, and broke a halftime tie to win at
Lately, the Ducks are getting an earlier start
in pulling away from opponents. The second-half team has become a second-quarter
team, with Oregon building a 21-3 lead over UCLA before allowing a touchdown
just before halftime, and scoring three unanswered touchdowns against Washington
in the second quarter Saturday.
“It’s just kind of the rub of the green of how
that happened the last couple weeks,” Helfrich said. “… We were able to get in a
little bit more rhythm offensively, get in a few more plays, and stop them on
defense, limit their plays, and it was a good complement.”
With a Friday game this week,
the coaching staff had to condense two days of work into one Sunday, and
scheduling tweaks will continue into Monday.
Typically, Sunday would have included a
game-planning meeting, but that will be held Monday morning as the coaching
staff combined review of the Washington game with looking ahead to Cal on
Sunday. Players attended meetings Sunday, but the Ducks opted not to hold a full
“We brought the players in for kind of a
condensed debrief of yesterday, then got them treated, hydrated, fed and out of
here,” Helfrich said.
The coaching staff’s players of the
week for the Washington game included Freeman on offense, linebacker Derrick Malone Jr. on defense and placekicker
Matt Wogan on special teams.
Malone tied for the team lead with eight
tackles, plays on which Washington compiled a total of just 34 yards. Wogan
extended his streak of kickoffs into the end zone to 15, Helfrich said, putting
all eight of his kickoffs Saturday past the goal line.
On the scout teams, receiver Jalen Brown, defensive back Bronson Yim and running back Lane Roseberry were the players of the week,
the latter on special teams.