Coming off of a painful loss to #2 LSU last week in Arlington, the #13 Oregon Ducks have some work to do if they want to, once again, be regarded as an elite program in the college football world.
That quest for respect begins this week as they welcome Nevada into Autzen Stadium for the home opener.
The Ducks have a lot to learn from their loss last week, but they did not play terribly from a physical standpoint.
Oregon’s defense in particular was very impressive for most of the game. If they did not have to constantly be on the field with their heels on the endzone due to turnovers, the numbers would reflect that. The Ducks allowed 20 points off of turnovers, points that cannot be blamed solely on the defense.
The one concern with the Oregon defense was that they were unable to force a legitimate turnover against LSU. The only LSU turnover was on a snap that shot past the unaware Jarrett Lee while calling an audible, allowing Oregon to pounce on the ball. Yes, it counts in the turnover column, but the Ducks hardly earned it.
The aggressive defense of Oregon figures to find plenty of turnovers this season, and to be fair, LSU only completed 10 passes, so the Ducks were not out of place.
That Oregon defense was also without two starters, cornerback Cliff Harris and linebacker Kiko Alonso. As of Wednesday, head coach Chip Kelly had not revealed if either player would be eligible for the Nevada game.
On offense the clear issue is in the run game, where Heisman hopeful LaMichael James was held to just 54 yards and has clearly been frustrated following his performance. That means James ran for as many yards as quarterback Darron Thomas had in pass attempts (54).
“I need to run more physical. I need to start doing me,” said James.
As long as “doing me” includes getting his butt into the endzone three or four times I think Oregon fans would be satisfied with that.
James, along with running backs Kenjon Barner and freshman De’Anthony Thomas, were working behind an offensive line that was fairly inexperienced and showed their flaws when it came to penalties and an inability to block an athletic LSU defense at times.
This week Oregon will need to show that they are ready to play and get back on the winning track against a Nevada team that won 13 games last season.
Nevada, who warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere last year when they forced the Boise State kicker to choke away the Broncos’ BCS bowl dreams (twice) on national television, has lost most of the notable players from last year’s team.
However, Nevada head coach Chris Ault and his dynamic pistol offense is always a fear for opposing defenses.
Nevada did not play last week so Oregon may be at a disadvantage scheme-wise due to all of the uncertainties concerning what Nevada is capable of with their new personnel.
Regardless of what players take the field for Nevada they enter the game as a heavy underdog to the Ducks, who should come out intent to show the Nation that they still have the explosiveness that has trademarked the Ducks as the most innovative offense since some guy in a leather helmet decided to throw the ball to a teammate instead of hand it to him.
The score should not be close, but Oregon needs to see improvement and maturity in all aspects of the game.
This is a good opportunity for the Ducks to make their first step away from the LSU game and towards a new season.
Oregon fans if you still need to be cheered up look no further than Corvallis, Oregon a few miles up the road.
After losing to Sacramento State, the long debated question has been answered:
How many batteries does it take to beat the Beavers at home?
Prediction: Oregon wins 45-17.
Prediction #2: Oregon State, with help from coaches and alumni, finds a way to teach all of their players how to properly tie their shoes just before game time. They’re playing at #8 Wisconsin so that may be the closest thing to a moral victory that they will take from this matchup.
About the Author
Written by Rob Parness
My name is Robbie Parness and I am a student at the University of Oregon. I'm a California native that loves to play, watch and talk about all kinds of sports. I would love to become a sports writer someday or work in sports in any capacity.