Originally posted on Fanster  |  Last updated 10/26/12
In what has been billed as the biggest game to hit Tempe in years, the Ducks of Oregon pull into Arizona ranked #3 in the country on a beautiful fall Sonoran evening. Boasting two former ASU coaches and the brother of Cameron Marshall, the Ducks have won the last seven and 11 of the last 14 meetings. Left lane hammer down meets one of the most prolific offenses in college football. You know it’s a big deal when Nike owner Phil Knight, PAC-12 commish Larry Scott and over 20 NFL scouts pack the press box. Oregon received the opening kickoff and on their second play of the game a fumble by QB Marcus Mariota gave the ball to ASU on the Duck 28 yard line. On the play, defensive lineman standout Will Sutton who caused the fumble had to be assisted off the field with an apparent knee injury. ASU’s first play QB Taylor Kelly hit wide out Kevin Ozier for a 28 yard touchdown pass. And before the crowd could come down from their fever pitch, Oregon’s speed demon Kenyon Barner shot through the ASU defense for a 71 yard run. A two point conversion to kicker Rob Beard put Oregon up 8-7 1:12 into the game. No sooner did ASU get the ball back when they marched back downfield to the Oregon 26 yard line before the drive stalled. Out marched kicker Alex Garoutte, with what we all knew was going to be a failed 43 yard field goal attempt. Unfortunately, it went wide right. Oregon didn’t hesitate on the next drive as they marched down field for a 74 yard drive in 14 plays with Mariota hitting freshmen Bralon Addison on a 6 yard touchdown throw. A Rob Beard extra point made the score Oregon 15 ASU 7. It was also during this drive that it was announced on TV that Will Sutton would not return. A HUGE loss in the center of the d-line for the Sun Devils. ASU’s next drive sputtered which gave the ball back to the Ducks. And just like pouring gasoline onto a fire, the Oregon offense sped back downfield. Even when ASU would get a tackle for a loss or break up a play in the backfield, Oregon wouldn’t flinch and rattle off another big gainer. Really without much effort, the Ducks went 15 plays for 78 yards and another score. This time it was a two yard pass from back up QB Bryan Bennett to starting QB Mariota. In true Oregon fashion, they’ve had a kicker catch a two point conversion and a QB with a touchdown catch. End of the first quarter mercifully ended Ducks 23 ASU 7. The first play of the second quarter saw ASU QB Taylor Kelly get intercepted, which led to another Kenyon Barner score three plays later. In many of my pre-game descriptions to friends, this Oregon team can put up 20-30 points on you within a New York minute if you’re not careful. And if the loss of Sutton wasn’t enough, defensive end Junior Onyeali was also injured in the first quarter and has yet to return. The idea of having to stop this Duck offensive without two of the d-line starters is daunting. With another feeble attempt of a drive failing for ASU wasn’t bad enough, Oregon’s next drive featured a 86 yard run by QB Marcus Mariota for a score. Another Kelly interception and another score by Barner put this game at 43-7. What makes this first half depressing to this reporter isn’t so much the score, but the fact it’s being broadcast to a national audience and also having huge recruiting implications. A dose of reality is probably good for this team, but this wasn’t the way to receive it. Oregon’s first punt didn’t come until a little over six minutes left in the half. I’m also questioning the play calling a little bit as they’ve slipped further behind. The mix of run/pass plays was a little heavily loaded on the run. Some mis-direction or play action would slow down the Duck defense a little and maybe give Taylor Kelly some more time. We shall see what Coach Todd Graham has in store for us in the second half. The best press box halftime quote came from ASU color commentator and former Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst. “Coach Graham should have the Animal House John Belushi Germans bombing Pearl Harbor quote playing in the locker room”. Now that all the east coast televisions had turned off, of course the third quarter turned into a football game. A bunch of punts exchanged and no scoring. But you know what they say about shutting the barn door after all the animals have escaped…. Early in the fourth quarter Taylor Kelly led ASU down to the Oregon 2 yard line only to stall out on downs without a score. Par for the course tonight. Michael Eubank replaced Kelly the next drive and had some success but it was obviously to late. Anthony Jones returned an interception for a score as well as DJ Foster scoring on a spectacular 23 yard catch, but it was against a back up Oregon defense. Final score mercifully was Oregon 43 ASU 21. I found a few things rather interesting during the post game presser. First was, a few of the players didn’t think that Oregon was that fast. Maybe the sight of Ducks including the quarterback, zooming by you for 406 rushing yards didn’t convince you, but from the press box, it was obvious. This Oregon team was fast. The other comment made by Coach Graham was that ASU held Oregon scoreless in the second half. On paper that statement was true, but it was blatant to all watching that Oregon coach Chip Kelly had clearly backed off the gas pedal. Graham did take ownership of the changed game plan after Sutton got hurt, which is honesty that goes along way with the media and fans. I take a few other notes from this game. Taylor Kelly finally got frustrated and made game changing mistakes. And to Graham’s credit, left him in the game to learn from his struggles. The ASU place kicking game is atrocious and needs to be fixed pronto. And finally, the injuries to Sutton, Onyeali and Andrew Sampson will help shape the outcome of the rest of the season. Which continues next weekend against UCLA during homecoming.
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