East Coast Blowout
For the second straight week the Oregon Ducks proved the transition from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich will be an easy one. Making the trek out to the East Coast to face the the Virginia, the Ducks poured it on early and didn’t let up in the second half en route to a 59-10 trouncing of the Cavaliers.
But while this game was similar to the first in regards to a blowout win for the Ducks, it was different in that Virginia was a quality opponent.
Though it was just the first game of the season for the Cavaliers, they played impressively and beat a BYU team with their defense while the Cougars ended up torching the No. 15 Texas Longhorns in week two. They still aren’t a Stanford or UCLA, but Virginia was a good early test for the Ducks to gauge where they are at.
With plenty of games left to play, there are plenty of things for Oregon to improve on, but for the most part, they looked like the No. 2 team in the nation yesterday.
Here are this weeks’ game balls.
Offensive Game Ball: Marcus Mariota
While it is tough not to recognize De’Anthony Thomas and how explosive he was against Virginia, Marcus Mariota once again played impressively and finds himself with this weeks’ game ball.
Still just 14-of-28, Mariota did show poise in the pocket and an ability to remain calm in the face of pressure. On Oregon’s first drive he managed to explode up the middle for a 71-yard touchdown run on a crucial third down, subsequently setting the tone for the rest of the quarter.
Mariota finished the day with 199 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 122 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Look for him to continue to improve his accuracy as the weeks progress.
Defensive Game Ball: Derrick Malone
One of the biggest concerns for the Ducks heading into 2013 was their linebacking corps, and while they still have a lot of ground to make up in that category, Derrick Malone played impressively yesterday and will look to continue his impressive streak of play to start the year.
Against the Cavaliers Malone led Oregon in tackles with 12 total tackles and was also credited with 0.5 tackle for loss. With room to still improve, Malone’s effort was a good sign that Oregon’s linebackers will be able to fill the Ducks’ needs at the position.
Special Teams Game Ball: Alejandro Maldonado
I’ve given Alejandro Maldonado a lot of flack in recent years but he actually played well against the Cavaliers in situations he is generally not used to. Oddly punting the ball four times on the day, Maldonado stepped into that role well and averaged 41 yards in distance with a long of 50.
Aside from his efforts as a punter Maldonado also converted a 29-yard field goal in the third that gave the Ducks some extra separation from the Cavaliers.
There’s still plenty of things the Ducks need to improve on, but if the above players continue to give the effort they are capable of, Oregon belongs in that No. 2 position and will see themselves have plenty of success throughout the year.
Next weeks test against Tennessee will be a big one and it’ll be great to have the Autzen faithful rocking the stadium.