Originally posted on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 9/14/13
The Ducks stuck to the plan. You have to like the poise they showed in overcoming a shaky start, getting Marcus Mariota in a great rhythm despite early struggles in the passing game. It was the first time they trailed all year after getting off to lightning fast starts in their first two games, and the feeling is that this team takes its cues from their even-keel coach and chill quarterback. The execution improved and the edge in talent was evident by the end of the first quarter. Shelling an SEC squad 59-14 is a big deal. Tenneessee hasn't lost many games that badly in their history, and this was an opponent with some talent, players who were heavily recruited and seasoned in the best conference in the country. Oregon dominated them after the first six minutes, save a fourth quarter manned by the twos and threes. The Ducks had 687 yards of offense while holding the Vols to 316, a big chunk of that in the fourth quarter, running against the scout team for 8 yards at a time. Johnny Mundt is a revelation. He reminds fans of David Paulson, a big target with soft hands who runs hard after catch, a reliable target, incredibly poised in his first start. Getting the tight end involved for big plays is such an advantage for an offense. It gives the defense more to think about, keeps them from packing the box or rotating safeties to double up on wide receivers. Add Byron Marshall's smooth reception on a swing pass, getting great blocking from the wide receivers as he shoots 36 yards down the sideline, and the Ducks have established emerging weapons in the passing game that give the offense so many options and weapons it's almost mind-boggling. People wonder if Oregon might throw more this year, and here's the answer. 456 is the biggest passing day for a Duck qb since Kellen Clemens in 2005. Fans have to love how Mariota and Frost got everyone involved in the attack: Huff 6-125, Mundt 5-121, Addison 6-78, Hawkins 3-61, a couple of clutch grabs to go with a 61-yard scoring strike on 4th and 6. That one ripped the heart out of the Volunteers, a situation in which nearly everyone else in college football would be punting. At least thus far, the identity of the offense seems to be to attack the edges and throw downfield. They haven't had much success running inside, but no one yet has been able to keep up with this team in open space. Mariota's quick release and DAT's quick feet keep teams guessing and running to cover. Frost did a masterful job of mixing up plays today, and burned Tennessee when they overcommitted to stopping the quick screen. It's the best intermediate passing Oregon's had in a long while, and you get the feeling there's even more they can do. Marshall ran better today. The Ducks used six different tailbacks in gaining 216 yards on the ground, so no one had to take a lot of punishment. Like the first two weeks the defense had one major lapse, giving up one big play, a 51-yard pass and run on a crossing route that was just too easy for the visitors. Outside that, the Vols didn't have a gain over 14 yards. Torrodney Prevot continues to impress on special teams. I counted three nice tackles. Joe Walker appears to be struggling in the middle, missing three tackles in one-on-one situations where a linebacker is expected to square up and make the play. Oregon held Tennessee to 13-29 passing for 138 yards, 4.8 per attempt. They didn't sack Worley but they hurried him into a number of poor throws. Taylor Hart and DeForest Buckner were active on the defensive line. Tony Washington had a nice stuff on a second quarter running play. Wogan looks like the field goal kicker, and returning punts, Addison is a cool customer who sets up blocks well and is shifty. He's a lot of fun to watch, and developing into a clutch receiver, a guy Mariota looks to often on third down. The penalties this time were more procedural stuff rather than the late hit and taunting type the Ducks got in Charlottesville. Still, two blocking penalties cost the Ducks big chunks of field position, negating a 70-yard kickoff return by Thomas and a second long punt return by Addison. Correctable errors in a very satisfying win. After three weeks Mariota's passing % increases to 59.7%, with 889 yards, 7 tds and no interceptions. He's added 262 yards on the ground with 4 more touchdowns. Next Saturday is the season's only bye, with Cal coming to Autzen Stadium on September 28th. Students will be in class by then, adding new energy as the 3-0, second-ranked Ducks begin pursuit of a PAC-12 title.
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