College Football Weekly Update- How the Ducks Turned Things Around


How the Ducks Turned it Around

Oregon had high hopes at the start of the season and it all started with a revenge game at Boise State to start the season. Before the game even got started, LaGarrette Blount told the media that they “owed Boise a beating.” By the end of the game, the only beating Blount gave was the punch he threw at Byron Hout.

The Broncos did the beating, holding the Ducks to 151 total yards and just six first downs in route to a 19-8 victory.

Things didn’t get a lot better the following week. Oregon’s offense woke up and scored 38 points, but they allowed Purdue, who currently sits at 3-6, to score 36 points. The Boilermakers caught what would have been the game-tying two-point conversion with 1:01 left, but Kyle Adams was out-of-bounds.

The next week, Oregon defeated 18th ranked Utah 31-24 and never looked back. Their defense has played much better as has Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. The Ducks have dominated every opponent they have face since then, starting with a 42-3 blowout win over previously unbeaten California a week after the Utah win.

But no win was larger than the Ducks 47-20 destruction of Southern Cal. The Ducks held the powerful Trojans to just 327 yards and absolutely lit up the USC defense, scoring 47 points and racking up 622 yards, including an astounding 391 yards rushing.

There are four main reasons for Oregon’s improved play.

  • – Chip Kelly’s coaching job

He kept his team afloat after an extremely disappointing early-season loss and an incredible amount of negative publicity for his school and what was thought to be his team’s best player (Blount). He rallied has troops and has Oregon playing as well (maybe even better) as any team in the country. The opening week loss and subsequent punch are now things of the past.

  • – The emergence of LaMichael James

The freshman out of Texarkana, Texas has been an absolute beast. After getting just 11 carries in his first two games, James has rushed for over 100 yards in every game but one. That one game was a 52-6 victory over Washington State in which things got out of hand pretty quickly. James wound up with just 13 carries, but still managed 81 yards and 2 TDs. James saved his best performance for Oregon’s biggest game – he went for 183 yards and a TD on 24 carries Saturday night against the Trojans. He now has 918 yards and 7 TDs on just 131 carries (7.0 ypc). James’ most impressive game may have come in a 24-10 victory over UCLA. Backup QB Nate Costa had to make his first career start because of Jeremiah Masoli’s injury and he passed for just 82 yards. UCLA knew James had to run, but that didn’t stop him – he had 152 yards on 20 carries.

  • – Oregon’s defensive improvements

After holding Boise State to a season-low 19 points and 361 total yards in a loss, the Ducks were shredded by a pretty bad Purdue team for 36 points and 451 total yards. They followed that up by holding Utah to just 297 total yards and have played well in every game following the Utah game. In fact, the 20 points that USC scored on Oregon were the most points the Ducks have allowed since Utah scored 24 against them back in week 3.

  • – Jeremiah Masoli has become a very good Quarterback

After struggling in his first three games (29-of-64(45%), 0 TDs, 2 INTS), Masoli has really turned his game around. He has played in four games since then (he missed the UCLA game because of an injury) and has put up incredible numbers. He is 68-of-96 (71%) for 748 yards, 6 TDs and zero INTs. He has also rushed for 291 yards and 4 TDs during that stretch. Masoli was 19-of-31 for 222 yards and a touchdown and added 164 yards and a TD on the ground in the blowout win over the Trojans. Masoli is making better decisions and the Ducks’ offense is playing at a very high level because of it. He has now accounted for 14 total TDs and has just 2 interceptions.

The Ducks probably don’t have a chance at a National Championship because of their opening game loss, but they do control their own destiny in the Pac-10. They have road dates with two ranked teams – Stanford and Arizona and have home games against Arizona State and rival Oregon State in the annual “Civil War.”

Only One-Half for Brandon Spikes?

I like the fact that Spikes has come out and apologized and I can’t really fault Tim Tebow for trying to defend him, but this warranted at least a full game suspension. Spikes blatantly tried to gouge the eyes of Georgia Running Back Washaun Ealey on Saturday and his classless act deserved worse than a half-game suspension. There is no place for that in college football and Spikes should have been made an example of. It seems like Meyer will stop at nothing to win another championship and if he wasn’t going to give Spikes the punishment he deserved, than the SEC should have stepped up and done it themselves.

I do like one thing Meyer did – he took action immediately- even if the punishment doesn’t match the crime.

Long time FSU Defensive Mickey Andrews Announces his retirement

Mickey Andrews is one of the best Defensive Coordinators of all time and he transformed Florida State into the national power that they become during the ‘90s. It’s unfortunate that such a loyal man and great coach is going out like this – Florida State is fielding easily their worst defense since Andrews has been there. Click here to see a very good article about Andrews’ career and just what he really meant to Florida State.

Performance of the Week

Jeremiah Masoli, Quarterback, Oregon

The Junior Quarterback went 19-of-31 for 222 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also rushed for 164 yards on just 13 carries and added another TD on the ground while orchestrating a blowout win over Southern Cal, 47-20.

The Heisman Race

Mark Ingram didn’t play but I’m not sure anyone did anything to merit leaping him.

  1. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
    Last week: 18 attempts, 99 yards
    Season: 153 attempts, 1,004 yards, 8 TDs, 19 receptions, 186 yards, 3 TDs
  2. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
    Last week: 22-of-27 for 268 yards and 2 TDs
    Season: 172-of-257 (66.9%), 2318 yards, 18 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 TD rushing
  3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
    Last week: 16-of-21 for 171 yards and 1 TD
    Season: 198-of-275 (72%), 1977 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 1 rushing TD
  4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
    Last week: 15-of-21 for 164 yards and 2 TDs, 18 carries, 85 yards, 2 TDs
    Season: 99-of-153 (64.7%), 1323 yards, 10 TDs, 4 INTs, 139 carries, 551 yards (4 ypc), 8 TDs
  5. Case Keenum, QB, Houston
    Last week: 44-of-54 for 559 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT
    Season: 285-of298 (71.6%), 3293 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs, 3 rushing TDs

My top 25

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Iowa
  6. TCU
  7. Boise State
  8. Oregon
  9. Georgia Tech
  10. LSU
  11. Penn State
  12. Pittsburgh
  13. Utah
  14. Houston
  15. USC
  16. Ohio State
  17. Miami
  18. Oklahoma State
  19. Notre Dame
  20. Arizona
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. Oklahoma
  24. South Florida
  25. Clemson

Game of the Week:
#10 LSU @ #1 Alabama
3:30 pm EST, CBS
The Line: Alabama -10

It’s time for Saban Bowl III and if this installment is anything like the first two, we’re in luck.

In their first matchup, LSU pulled out a 41-34 victory after trailing 27-24 entering the fourth quarter. LSU scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes after a key Alabama fumbled.

Last season, it was LSU that pulled the near upset after tying the game with 6:12 left. Alabama’s field goal on the final play of the regulation was blocked and the game went to overtime. LSU QB Jarrett Lee was picked off in overtime and Alabama went on to win the game 27-21.

LSU, who is ranked 9th in the BCS could get themselves back into the BCS Title picture with a win over Alabama, setting up a potential rematch with Florida.

Both Quarterbacks have struggled to put points on the board for their offenses. In fact, Tennessee held Alabama without a touchdown while Florida kept LSU out of the end zone.

I think that both squads have excellent defenses that are capable of shutting down any opponent and although I do like the Tide’s defense better, I think it is their offense that is going to be the difference in this game.

And I like Alabama’s offense better for a couple of reasons. The number one reason is the balance that the Tide brings on offense. Alabama actually averages more yards per game on the ground (218 yards per game) then they do through the air (192 yards per game). LSU on the other hand, has had a lot of trouble running the ball, averaging 141.5 yards per game on the ground.

One of the best indicators of an offense is yards per play, so let’s look at that. The Tigers average 5.34 yards per play while the Tide’s offense averages just over 6 yards per play, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

LSU averages just 3.95 yards per rush, while Alabama averages 5.3. I think that it will be much easier for Alabama to shut down LSU’s running game than vice versa, forcing LSU throw the ball earlier in the game, giving Alabama the opportunity to force LSU QB Jordan Jefferson into mistakes.

I really like the way Alabama dominates the clock. They have the ball or over 32 minutes per game while LSU doesn’t have much of an edge in T.O.P. at all. Alabama’s running game and ability to sustain drives is going to be the difference in this game. The Tide should be able to control the clock and wear down the LSU defense in the fourth quarter.

Games to Watch

#16 Ohio State @ #11 Penn State – 4
3:30 pm EST, ABC Regional

Ohio State pitched another shutout last week when they beat New Mexico State 45-0. Penn State struggled early on and actually trailed Northwestern 13-10 before dominating the second half in route to a 34-13 win. I really like the Buckeyes’ defense. It is very good. The held NMSU to just 62 total yards and are one of the best coached units in the country year in and year out. The Buckeyes give up just 260 yards per game, good for sixth in the entire nation. The Buckeyes give up about 4 yards per play.

My problem with the Buckeyes is their offense. They average just less than 5.78 yards per play. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been awful. He is completing just 54.6% of his passes and has thrown 9 interceptions.

Penn State’s defense gives up just 254 yards per game, good for fifth in the nation. Penn State’s defense gives up slightly over 4 yards per play so the defenses are pretty much even.

However, Penn State’s offense is much more explosive, averaging almost 6.5 yards per play. The Nittany Lions have also had much more consistent Quarterback play from Senior Daryll Clark. Clark has 18 TD passes and 7 interceptions, but 3 of them game in one really bad game – Penn State’s 21-10 loss against Iowa. Penn State also has a feature back – Evan Royster. Royster has rushed for 859 yards. Ohio State lacks a feature back and Pryor is the team’s leading rusher with 554 yards.

I think that Ohio State’s defense will be the best Daryll Clark has seen but Penn State is too explosive and Ohio State has too many offensive deficiencies.

#8 Oregon @ Stanford +5.5
3:30 pm EST

Oregon is riding high after one of the biggest wins in the history of their program and now they have go on the road to take on a team that’s undefeated at home, has a consistent running game and a smart Quarterback – that’s an excellent recipe or an upset.

I really like what Chip Kelly is doing with the Ducks and I think he’s going to have his team ready to go.

#23 Oklahoma @ Nebraska +6
8:00 pm EST, ABC Regional

Nebraska was really starting to make me a believer. They were 4-1, fresh off a win at Missouri, with their only loss coming in the final seconds at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech. Then, they lost two straight home games. They were blown out by Texas Tech 31-10 and then beaten by Iowa State 9-7. Another conference loss would probably end any chance at a Big 12 title game appearance.

Nebraska has had a lot of trouble and despite Oklahoma’s defensive performance against Kansas State (KSU had 364 yards and 30 points), I don’t expect the Huskers to have much success against the Sooner defense. Landry Jones seems like he is getting very comfortable in the offense, so I like the Sooners to cover.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)