The Oregon Ducks shut down the Arizona Wildcats 49-0 and have solidified themselves at the top of the Pac-12 with this shutout, blowout victory over a No. 22 ranked team. This is as impressive as it gets, and the defensive performance the Ducks showed led to the first shutout of Arizona since 1964.
What a way to start the conference season for the Ducks, and those three warm-up games certainly warmed up Oregon for their first test of the season against the Wildcats.
Colt Lyerla made his debut at running back for the No. 3 ranked Ducks, and he didn’t disappoint with seven carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 53 yards.
True freshman Bralon Addison made some big plays in the passing game by hauling in three passes for 83 yards, including a long 55-yard touchdown catch. Although Marcus Mariota wasn’t as accurate as he usually is, he still finished with an efficient 7.5 yards per attempt.
It was something of a down game for De’Anthony Thomas on the ground (he did have a big 38-yard return punt return that set up a three-yard TD on the ground for Lyerla and Bryan Bennett), who didn’t find the end zone and only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. But Kenjon Barner put in a solid 86-yard performance on the ground to help keep the Oregon offense ticking, and the offense was efficient and did their job in this one.
But the most impressive performances were reserved for defense, as the Ducks were able to stop the high-flying Arizona offense- and then some. Quarterback Matt Scott is one of the best in the conference, but he didn’t play like it by going 22-44 with three picks- one of them was returned for touchdown by Ifo-Ekpre Olomu (two picks off of Scott in total from him). Troy Hill had a pick six off of B.J. Denker (backup QB for Arizona, came in for Scott). Star linebacker Kiko Alonso had an interception off of Scott as well.
That’s extremely impressive, considering the doubts surrounding the Ducks secondary’s ability without safety John Boyett. Those concerns were almost completely mitigated based on Oregon’s performance against Scott. Austin Hill still managed to catch seven passes, but he only averaged 7.6 yards per reception which is a testament to Oregon’s ability to limit the big play. Dan Buckner was held to just three catches, and the coverage was very impressive as a whole.
Everybody knows Oregon has a great running game, but Arizona’s running game is also something to take not of. Ka’Deem Carey had 147 rushing yards against Toledo and 126 against Oklahoma State, and he also averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his last game. However, Carey was held to just 3.6 yards per attempt against a nasty Oregon defense. 3.6. Yeah, that’s right.
Let me tell you something, I thought this game was going to be a 20-point win for Oregon. I never saw a shutout coming against a star quarterback, two very good receivers, and a top running back. But it happened, and it goes to show you that Oregon’s defense has always been very good; it’s just that it gets overshadowed by the offense. Especially to the average fan who doesn’t know about Alonso or Ekpre-Olomu.
Take the time to celebrate this crushing victory over a good top 25 time, and Oregon looks like a team that should be ranked over No. 2 LSU after their less convincing victory over Auburn (12-10, Auburn isn’t ranked). I would put Oregon at No. 2, because shutting down an offense that was previously 12th in the nation statistically is no easy feat; especially when it’s a Rich Rodriguez controlled spread offense. The Ducks fans who were fretting- even after the 63-14 win over Tennessee Tech- should fret no more. The offense is as good as ever, and the defense just showed that it’s up there with the best of them as well.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.