December 1, 2008

Grades and Analysis: OSU

Grades and Analysis: Oregon State

Oregon mauled in-state rival Oregon State 65-38 in front of a record crowd at Reser Stadium in Corvallis on Saturday.

Summary Opinion: B

AJ: Something seemed to be different for a late November game before kickoff. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm and then the Ducks came out hot. Oregon was explosive on both sides of the ball with huge scoring plays from offense and defense alike.

JC: The Ducks overpowered the Beavers with a show of offensive firepower that put up more yards than any other Oregon team ever has. The Ducks also scored more points than any prior Beaver opponent ever has. It was an overwhelming offensive performance that made rather lackluster performances by the defense and especially the special teams in Corvallis.

Offense A-

AJ: The Ducks have established that they run the ball well. When they are effective with the pass early in games, they are a devastating offense. Defenses are forced to loosen up just enough to give the big three running threats for Oregon sufficient seams and lanes to power through the bodies. The Ducks probably could have run the ball all day on the Beavers and ground out a close game. Instead Chip Kelly went to the pass early, and Oregon's first touchdown drive included 69 yards passing and the scoring strike. Its result on the Beaver defensive spacing gave Kelly a candy store to work with.

JC: The Offense didn't turn the ball over, gained nearly 700 yards and was relatively balanced in the impact of its use of the pass and the run. While the Ducks ran the ball much more than they passed, they passed well early and by establishing that facet of the offense opened up opportunity for the running game.

Offensive Line B

AJ: The Ducks averaged 7.5 yards per rushing attempt and gave Masoli time to throw much of the afternoon. The hogs of Oregon controlled the point of attack against the Beavers the entire game, and with them doing their jobs so well the offense seemed unstoppable against a defense that had played everybody else much better.

JC: The offensive line was inconsistent against the Beavers. While they opened at large holes at times, at others like the Ducks' first offensive play of the game, they looked porous and still others sloppy because of the numerous penalties (four) they incurred. While it wasn't their best game, it was good enough to help the Ducks win.

Quarterback A-

AJ: If there were one person who could be pointed at as to the improvement in the Oregon offense it would have to be Jeremiah Masoli. Though not quite ready to run the team in the first few months he was on campus, Masoli now has his legs, arm and head all working together within the Oregon playbook. Most Duck fans have by now see why the coaches stuck with him when he struggled a bit in a couple early games, and fewer will boo him in his next Autzen appearance. Masoli threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in this blowout win.

JC: Jeremiah Masoli ran the ball effectively, passed very well and has learned to run the read option much more effectively. He still makes the foolish mistakes of youth as he did when heaved a ball up for grabs from 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but against OSU none of those mistakes hurt.

Running back A

AJ: Jeremiah Johnson averaged 12.9 yards on 17 carries and LeGarrette Blount 6.6 yards on 17 carries. The averages would have been less than half that if the first tackler had been able to take down these two horses. The production from this position was once again outstanding and psychologically demoralizing for the Beaver defense as they could not bring the backs down without support from the back four who had to play off to honor the pass.

JC: Jeremiah Johnson was at his scintillating best as broke long runs and trusted his speed to extend them. LeGarrette Blount was his battering ram self, especially on quick hitters. The Duck running backs both went over 100 yards for the game, with JJ hitting the double century mark before the first half was over. You can't ask much more from a pair of running backs.

Tight ends/H-backs A-

AJ: Ed Dickson got in on the action with 81 yards and a touchdown. What really continues to impress about Dickson is his aggressiveness when he doesn't have the ball. It's fun to watch him go pick off a defender regardless of where the play is.

JC: Ed Dickson had two catches including one for a touchdown. Like Jaison Williams, his blocking contributed greatly to the Ducks' offensive success.

Wide receivers A

AJ: Like Dickson, these guys are doing a great job of helping with downfield blocks this year. Long touchdown runs do not happen without these guys helping. On the receiving end, the group was very good. Jeff Maehl and Terence Scott scored on long touchdown catches and the unit averaged 25.8 yards per completion, plenty enough to spread out any defense.

JC: The wide receivers weren't thrown a lot of balls. Jeff Maehl had a team high five catches including one for a touchdown, while Terence Scott had two catches including one long touchdown catch. Jaison Williams only had one catch. That isn't a lot, but Williams contributed enormously to the offenses success with some excellent downfield blocking. Williams was responsible for holding the corner of the end zone open on Jeremiah Masoli's touchdown run in the third quarter and for spring Ed Dickson for a touchdown in the fourth.

Defense C+

AJ: In the first half the defense gave up touchdown drives of 60 and 47 yards and scored a defensive touchdown, a very solid half of football aside from the second touchdown which took three plays and 0:26 seconds at the end of the half. The third quarter was the lone letdown quarter with the defense giving up touchdown drives of 72 and 86 yards. Aliotti's group closed the game out nicely in the fourth quarter holding the Beavers to one 18 yard scoring drive. The best part of the defenses' play was forcing four turnovers, turning two of them into touchdowns.

JC: The Duck defense gave up too many yards and two many points. It did some good things. Five sacks and four turnovers including two which were returned for defensive scores demonstrate that well enough. Still, the bottom line is points allowed and the Ducks' pass defense had a gaping hole in its middle that Oregon State exploited regularly enough to put up a total of 38 points. That's too many and the Ducks should be able to do better. They'd better if they are the face one the potent spreads from the Big 12 in San Diego.

Defensive Line B+

AJ: Nick Reed had three tackles on the game, all of them sacks. The senior playmaker also forced a fumble in his career regular season finale, the very week he was named an Academic All-American. Will Tukuafu added three tackles and Tonio Celotto and Mike Speed two each, one of Speed's being a nine yard sack. The Beavers averaged less than three yards per rush, in large measure due to the big fellows in the trenches. Brandon Bair helped this grade further with his 24 yard fumble recovery.

JC: The defensive line generally put quite a bit of pressure on Beaver quarterback Lyle Moevao. Moevao was forced to move all day long, was sacked five times by defensive linemen and even when he did get rid of the ball he took a beating. The Duck defense was stout once again against the run and the guys in the defensive trenches had a large part in that.

Linebackers C

AJ: Spencer Paysinger played another fine game with eight tackles, a 70-yard interception return for touchdown and two pass breakups. Jerome Boyd added seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Casey Matthews contributed four tackles and a tfl. Encouraging also was the play of Josh Kaddu and Riley Showalter in backup roles.

JC: The Duck linebackers did a good job against the run. While it's hard to say for sure without knowing the defensive play calls, they once again appear to have failed in pass coverage. Certainly Spencer Paysinger's pick six suggests otherwise, but it's hard to argue with more than a dozen catches on short to medium routes by Oregon State's running backs and tight ends. The Ducks need to find a way to cover the middle of the field more effectively if they are going to shore up their defense for the Holiday Bowl.

Defensive Backs C+

AJ: Thurmond's pick six towards the end of the second quarter should have been huge but was basically negated by OSU's subsequent three play TD drive. Patrick Chung stood out more this game than most others this season. Chung led the team with eleven tackles, one of them for loss. His fellow safety T.J. Ward had eight tackles. Cornerback Walter Thurmond scored on a 40-yard pick six, added seven tackles and broke up two passes. Jairus Byrd broke up two passes on the other side of the field.

JC: Lyle Moevao threw 51 passes. Some of them had to be caught. Unfortunately, the catches that the secondary gave up were too often on third and long. Coupled with the fact that all of the penalties on the Duck defense were called against the secondary, that means the Duck defensive backs didn't do their job. It was another in a series of less than stellar performances by a unit that was expected to be among the Ducks best.

Special Teams: D+

Kickoffs: F
Matt Evensen rarely kicked the ball inside the on kickoffs. He kicked a squib into one of the OSU front four that was smothered at midfield. When he did kick the ball to the Beaver return men, they often had a big return. Both James Rogers and his running mate had returns of 40 yards or more. Add Evensen's kick out of bounds and the facemasking personal foul he had called on him and it was miserable way for a senior to play his last game in the state of Oregon.

Kickoff returns: D
The Ducks tried a number of return men including speedster Jamere Holland. Only Walter Thurmond could average has much as 20 yards per return and he just eked that much out by gaining twenty on one return. Holland averaged less than twelve on his for attempts. The Ducks were called for both holding and a block in the back. It was a miserable day. At least no one fumbled.

Punting: B
The good news is that Josh Syria averaged over 50 yards per punt and there were no bad snaps. The bad news is that coverage team couldn't always get quite that far downfield and on one occasion it cost the Ducks a big return of 55 yards.

Punt Returns: C
Jairus Byrd only had the chance to return one punt. He went nowhere with it. He was also leveled when he attempted to catch a punt resulting in a 15-yard personal foul penalty assessed against OSU. An average performance, an average grade.

Placekicking: A
Morgan Flint was perfect as he has been since he took over the job three games ago. Perfect performance earns a perfect grade.

Coaching B

AJ: This was one of the most complete and meaningful victories in recent Duck history, and the coaches did their work in noteworthy fashion. Nick Aliotti had the Beaver's bread and butter fly sweep play stuffed from outset. The Beaver receivers were able to find an occasional seam in the passing lanes which could be shut down with better execution. The offense was all but unstoppable by the Beaver defense Saturday, and the only times they were was when penalties slowed them down.

JC: Chip Kelly had an excellent game plan and his players executed it very well. Nick Aliotti on the other hand still seems unable to solve the problem of covering tight ends and running backs and opponents continue to exploit the holes. It was probably tough to prepare for everything. The Beavers are generally a running team and much of the Ducks preparation was for Quizz Rogers. When he was forced out of the game by injury, much of the Ducks' preparation became useless. Still, Aliotti has got to find a way to cover the gap in the center of his defense. Tom Osborne's kickoff teams looked out of sync and out of sorts. Their performances were miserable. Matt Evensen may be hurt, but Oz has got to be able to find a more effective way to compensate than he is. The coaching staff also deserves to be dinged for all the penalties their charges racked up. Fifteen penalties are far too many, especially for this late in the year.

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