San Jose State

Oregon Ducks fly into conference play on the back of their defense

Oregon Ducks fly into conference play on the back of their defense

No. 20 Oregon remains undefeated heading into Pac-12 conference play with a 35-22 victory over San Jose State (0-3), but the 3-0 Ducks aren't satisfied. 

The closer-than-expected win was marked with inconsistent offensive play and an uncharacteristic performance from quarterback Justin Herbert.

Herbert was intercepted twice by the nation’s second-worst pass defense in San Jose State. He seemed uncomfortable in the pocket while forcing too-tight throws and underthrowing receivers, like Dillon Mitchell on the first play of the game.

"Today we played some inconsistent football," coach Mario Cristobal said.

When asked about Herbert’s performance Crisotbal said, “I’m not disappointed with his play at all. I know he is very critical of himself, and that’s okay. We want our players to have high standards for themselves.”

He finished the game 16-of-34 for 309 passing yards and three touchdowns. 300 passing yards might seem like a good statistic but consider this: In SJSU’s first two games, UC Davis quarterback Jake Meier and Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew each finished with over 425 passing yards.

The tight score kept Herbert in the game until the final minutes, when freshman Tyler Shough took his place. Backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister was on the sideline with crutches after undergoing a minor procedure on his knee. Cristobal expects him to return in two weeks.

[READ: Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference]

It wasn’t all bad for Herbert and the Oregon offense. The Ducks splashed in some explosive plays that sent the 50,049 fans in Autzen into a frenzy.

A wide-open Jacob Breeland took a pass a career high 66-yards to the end zone for his first touchdown of the season.

Herbert also completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to CJ Verdell, who led Oregon today in rushing (42) and receiving yards (85), totaling 127 all-purpose yards.

Tony Brooks-James took a kickoff return 95 yards to the house, but it was negated by a costly holding penalty. The Ducks committed six penalties for 59 yards, which is still less than last season’s average of nine penalties a game.

But the real bright spot was the Duck run defense. Oregon held the Spartans to 29 rushing yards on 28 carries. So far this season, the Ducks have held opponents to 2.2 yards per carry.

Oregon also had 11 pass breakups and two interceptions, including freshman Jevon Holland’s first career pick.

Senior Ugo Amadi was seemingly everywhere, finishing with a team-high eight tackles and two pass break-ups. He also provided a spark on special teams, returning three punts for 100 yards, including one 57-yard return that was just short of a touchdown.

“(Amadi) was making more plays in the backfield than I was, “ said outside linebacker Justin Hollins. “To have a defensive back like that is tremendous.”

Hollins could have been the MVP of the game. Hollins had a team-high eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one interception. He has a tackle for loss in seven straight games and a sack in all three games this season.

“Justin Hollins is always wreaking havoc off the edge, always in the quarterback’s face and applying pressure,” said linebacker Troy Dye. “He finally got a pick, he kind of bobbled it, if he would have dropped it I would have got on him.”

Oregon’s run defense is peaking at the right time, with No. 9 Stanford and running back Bryce Love headed to Eugene to open conference play next Saturday. All eyes will be on the Ducks, as ESPN’s college game day visiting for the prime time 5 p.m. game.

Is Oregon ready for Stanford?

"I think it’s time to go find out," said Cristobal.


What They're Saying: San Jose potential upset vs. Oregon?


What They're Saying: San Jose potential upset vs. Oregon?

While the term cupcake is being thrown out there, the No. 20 Oregon Ducks are focused on the upcoming San Jose Spartans to round out non-conference play this Saturday at Autzen Stadium. But let's take a look at the flip side as to what the Spartan program is saying coming into Eugene this weekend.

You can read the full article HERE.

SJSU coach Brent Brennan says: "We’re going to try and get our team not to look at the entirety of it,” Brennan said. “Just play this play and take a deep breath. If something good happens, play the next play. If something bad happens, play the next play. That’s a challenge with our football team in general, but especially for young players who haven’t been in a lot of major college football games.”

The Ducks' young secondary will be tested once again by San Jose's tight end play through senior Josh Oliver. For the second consecutive week, Oliver is the leading pass receiver among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) tight ends. After two games, Oliver is averaging 6.5 receptions a game and has 13 catches for the season. Article can be read HERE.

Despite the 31-0 shutout at Washington State last weekend, the Spartans are looking to start quicker, not overthink it, and use their advantages. 


Game information: 

No. 20 Oregon vs. San Jose State, kickoff at 2 PM (PT) this Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

Oregon Duck uniforms: Black, electric green for week three

Oregon Duck uniforms: Black, electric green for week three

Oregon's first of two 'blackout' games is scheduled for game three against San Jose State. The No. 20 Ducks (2-0) will wear black vs. the Spartans on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Autzen Stadium. Fans are also encouraged to wear black. 

The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font. The jerseys are simpler than in years past. 

Did you know the NCAA tightened restrictions on CFB uniforms?

More Ducks:

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Official: 4-star WR Jalen Hall off Oregon football team

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

Oregon football rises to No. 20 the AP Poll

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

It's a probable top-20 matchup and ESPN Game Day may be coming to Autzen Stadium on Sept. 22. While the Ducks (2-0) are focused on finishing non-conference play, No. 9 Stanford (2-0) is looming around the corner.

The No. 20 Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State (0-2) to Stanford, but I am.

Can you blame me?

-Junior quarterback Justin Herbert vs. senior running back Bryce Love.

-Heisman Trophy hopeful vs. Heisman Trophy runner-up.

-Biology major vs. biology major (they both aspire to be doctors). 

-Potential first round 2019 NFL draft pick vs. potential first round 2019 NFL draft pick.

An NFL scout’s dream game.

Yes, Oregon has to take care of business against San Jose State first.

“If you overlook a team, they can really embarrass you,” UO junior left guard Shane Lemieux said. “This week we have an emphasis on playing San Jose State and not focusing on who we have in the future.”

True. However, SJSU is near the bottom of the FBS level statistically in a number of categories; total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, etc.

Beating the Spartans shouldn’t be an issue. I expect Herbert to throw up insane numbers against a team that ranks second to last nationally defending the pass. The real win on Saturday will be the Ducks walking out of Autzen without any injuries.

Stanford coach David Shaw announced Love will miss the Cardinal's week three game against UC Davis due to an undisclosed injury, but is expected to return at Oregon. 

Oregon’s defense hasn’t faced anyone close to the caliber of backfield threat that Love presents. However, each of Oregon’s nonconference match-ups have featured a standout player that the Ducks had to game plan for.

Bowling Green’s leading rusher Andrew Green carried the ball 25 times for 113 yards. Oregon kept Portland State’s Preseason All-American and All-Big Sky Conference selection Charlie Taumoepeau in check, but the tight end still broke through a few big holes to score twice on 125 receiving yards on five receptions.

This Saturday, the Ducks will face San Jose State tight end Josh Oliver, a Mackey Award watch list candidate, who is a threat in space.

While Oregon’s cupcake nonconference games did not teach us much about who the Ducks are, it did offer the challenge for the UO defense to prepare for Green, Taumoepeau and Oliver.

Next up, Love, who is a different animal. After deciding to forgo the 2018 NFL draft as a junior, Love’s senior season opened quietly with 29 yards on 18 carries against San Diego State. He rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown last weekend in Stanford's 17-3 win over rival USC before leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter. It marked his 16th career hundred-yard rushing game.

Last season Stanford destroyed Oregon, 49-7, in a game in which the Ducks were without Herbert and penalties (nine for 109 yards) halted UO's offensive momentum. In that game, Love reached the 100-yard rushing mark in less than five minutes, and finished with 147 yards on 17 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter. 

Love isn’t the only Heisman Trophy hopeful throwing up statistics. Oregon is averaging 43.4 points per game in quarterback Justin Herbert’s 17 career starts. Through his first 19 games, Herbert’s 4,450 career-passing yards are the most all-time for an Oregon quarterback. Yes, even more than Marcus Mariota, who had 4,401 yards through 19 games.

Herbert says his full focus is on San Jose State and the rest Ducks are saying all the right things. 

“We will worry about Stanford next week,” said junior UO wide receiver Brenden Schooler.

It’s a good thing I’m not on the Oregon football team.

Two likely undefeated and ranked Pac-12 teams vying for the North Division crown, playing in prime time… I can’t wait for September 22.