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September 27, 2004The Oregon Ducks entered Saturday's contest against the Idaho Vandals five touchdown favorites, and from the opening kickoff on, proved why. The Ducks controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, opening gaping holes for Terrance Whitehead, while giving Kellen Clemens ample time to find open receivers.
The offense was strong in the first half, not as more mistake-prone in the second. Coach Bellotti was hoping to play a lot of youth, and did exactly that. A dozen true and redshirt freshmen played, including Luke Bellotti, Andiel Brown, Kwame Agyeman, A.J. Tuitele, Brady Leaf, Jackie Bates, Ryan Gilliam, David Faaeteete, Dennis Dixon, Garren Strong, Josh Tshirgi, and Cameron Colvin.
This game was an important win for the Ducks after an 0-2 start, if nothing else to prove to themselves and their fans that this Duck team is explosive, deep and talented. Pac-10 play starts next Saturday against Arizona State, a team the Ducks certainly can beat. That is the beginning of the real season.
Grade and comments:
QB: Clemens 11-19, 157 yards, 3 TD's, 0 Int's; Dixon 5-8, 71 yards, B+. Clemens played well but had a drop or two hurt his numbers, as well as a few overthrows. Still some slight problems with the accuracy of his deep balls, but both Tim Day and Demetrius Williams failed to catch deep balls that they could have caught. Good decision making by Clemens overall. Dixon had his best performance so far, given his extended minutes against an overmatched opponent. He might want to consider checking to see whether or not the TB is open for the pitch on option plays.
RB: Whitehead 18 carries, 115 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions 44 yards 1 TD, Andiel Brown 10 carries, 47 yards, B+. Large holes made for easy initial yards against Idaho. Whitehead did a great job of exploiting the holes and driving his legs through tackles. Andiel Brown was a pleasant surprise, although he has been a consistent performer in practice for a couple years. Rosario was great when called upon, rushing for a four yard touchdown on one of his two carries.
WR: Colvin, Paysinger, 2 receptions each, C-. Maybe not a fair grade given that they just weren't thrown many balls. Marcus Maxwell had a good day blocking downfield, helping his team make bigger plays on a number of occasions. Garren Strong did not seem to get many opportunities.
TE: Day 3 receptions, 27 yards, 2 TD's, B. Day would have graded in the A range had he not short-arm a perfect fade throw by Clemens in the end zone. Day did a very nice job of getting himself open when he was in the route.
OL: A. While clearly physically dominant, the offensive line still did a tremendous job of execution. Tschirgi and Flanagan played extended minutes, and for the most part graded-out well. Blown pass blocking by Tschirgi on one play caused a sack which angered Clemens because he had a guy breaking open deep. However, this was a tremendous full game performance by the offensive line.
DB: B-. Gipson led the team with seven tackles, and the defensive backs as a whole played well in man coverage. Idaho was able to find some gaps in our zone coverage on occasion. Marques Binns made a few impressive plays again this week. JD Nelson dropped an interception he certainly will not look forward to seeing in film. It seemed odd that the Ducks didn't start Gilliam and Binns when they decided to rest the starters. Speaking of which, Aaron Gipson's pride and talent are impressive. When the Ducks were having trouble with Idaho's short outside passing game, Gipson gave up his day off and came in shut down the Vandal wide receivers.
LB: A-. The Jerry Matson fan club should be swelling. The former walk-on set the tone early, knifing through the offensive line and collaring the running back one-handed for a five yard loss. His early TFL set a tone for the defense that carried over throughout the day with total of 12 TFLs to go along with the four sacks. A.J. Tuitele played extended minutes at the outside position. Ramone Reed made a nice play on the ball for an interception. The group gets marked down for Tuitele's roughing the quarterback penalty which kept a halted Idaho drive alive.
DL: A. Devan Long was absolutely unblockable, regardless of how many linemen tried. Long was able to apply pressure on almost every down. Haloti played extensively, physically throwing the Idaho offensive linemen around. Robby Valenzuela was constantly disrupting the Vandal offense. Solomona's interception return for a touchdown was spectacular, although Coach Greatwood may want to bring a loaf of bread to practice Monday to show Chris the difference between it and a football.
Special Teams: B-. Jared Seigel became the all-time leading scorer in Duck history, passing Duck great Derek Loville. Seigel missed an extra point wide right, although the hold by Leaf was not great. Explosive punt returns by Whitehead and Washington gave the Ducks great field position. Dittman had a few nice punts, providing great relief to us armchair quarterbacks who had bitten our nails to a nub over the punting situation.
Coaching: B-. Well, it was Idaho, and our personnel were clearly superior. The coaches get high marks for having the team firing on all cylinders right out of the tunnel. They get marked down for 104 yards in penalties, which could potentially cost us a game against more evenly-matched opponent. This is very difficult to grade this game.
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