The Oregon Ducks followed up a tough loss to Washington State with a blowout throttling at the hands of the University of Arizona. Let’s take a look at how our prospects performed.
Justin Herbert, QB
Stats: 24/48, 186 yards passing, 2 TD, 1 INT; 6 carries for 31 yards
Draft Stock: 1st Round
Oh man, it is just getting worse for Justin Herbert and the Oregon Ducks who started so promising. They had the heartbreaking loss to Stanford but then bounced back against Cal and Washington, jumping all the way up to the 12th ranked team in the country. And now, they find themselves towards the bottom of the PAC-12 North. Herbert’s not having any more success throwing the ball. Maybe it’s the loss of freshman offensive lineman Penei Sewell that is taking a toll on the line because Herbert is having a little less time in the pocket, but if you watch the receivers run routes, they’re not creating any separation.
Despite the troubles through the air, Herbert is also not showing the emotional leadership that a guy at his caliber and at his position must show on and off the field. If Herbert doesn’t start taking control of this offense then the Ducks are in trouble the rest of the season.
The Ducks will finally return home after two straight weeks on the road. We’ve always known the PAC-12 for being a conference that beats up on each other, but if the Ducks don’t show some heart against UCLA (2-6), it will prove the start of this season was a farce.
UCLA’s defense has been less than stellar, ranking 11th in the PAC-12 in both total and scoring defense. The Bruins biggest issue is stopping the run, but Oregon has been making poor run defenses look good as of late. Herbert should start off by establishing the running game early, and then draw the safeties up with play-action and pump fakes to open up the field.
Penei Sewell, OG
Draft Stock: Freshman
Out with high ankle sprain. 6 week estimated timetable.
Jordon Scott, DT
Stats: 1 tackle, 1 solo tackle
Draft Stock: Sophomore
Jordan Scott seems to be becoming less and less of a factor. Against Arizona, he didn’t see an unordinary amount of double teams, so there’s no excuse for him being kept out of the back field as much as he was. Also, Zona didn’t stick to running wide and away from Scott, instead he seemed to be struggling with shedding blockers or reading the design of the plays correctly. Either way, a performance like this against an average Zona team is very disappointing.
UCLA’s offense has yet to find it’s rhythm all year. They began to look promising after a 0-5 start by back-to-back wins against Cal and Zona, however, they took a step backward again by following up a two-game winning streak with a 41-10 loss last week to Utah.
Scott must regain his form and find what was working for him earlier in the year. He needs to shed the UCLA blockers to stop the run, UCLA’s biggest offensive weapon. He also must start reading the design of plays correctly again to keep UCLA in check.
Jalen Jelks, OLB
Stats: 4 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 pass deflection
Draft Stock: 3rd Round
Jelks, once again, was somewhat of a non-factor. For an athletic specimen like himself, there’s no way he should be playing this inconsistent. He lined up all over the field Saturday against Zona and should have been able to take advantage over a sub-par offensive line. He had a few good tackles and the one pass deflection, yet he allowed himself to get pushed off his line, allowing the Zona 0-line to open up gaping holes that the Zona backs feasted off of all game.
UCLA likes to run the ball a lot, I mean duh, it’s a Chip Kelly offense, but it’s mostly because they have struggled with QB injuries all year and haven’t been able to figure things out through the air.
It’s going to be imperative that Jelks makes himself extremely hard to block. If he stops getting pushed aside so easily, and these holes shrink to the point where he can use his speed and strength to close the gaps, the Ducks will have success against the lowly Bruins.
Troy Dye, LB
Stats: 13 total tackles, 13 solo tackles, 1 Tackle For Loss
Draft Stock: 4th Round
As typical for Oregon’s defense in these past few weeks, Dye has had to be everywhere. He had 13 tackles in the game against Zona, but what was most disturbing was that they were all solo-tackles, meaning, not only are the Ducks defenders relying on him to bail them out, the defensive line, in particular, is not doing their job and allowing the running backs to get into the second level with ease.
Also, despite the 13 tackles, Dye missed a few open field tackles and was blocked by o-linemen too often. It’s tough nit-picking a guy who had to, basically, do everything himself, but if the Ducks wanted to be victorious against the Wildcats, then Dye needed to do even more.
The same thing will apply to Dye as it does for Jelks and Scott. STOP THE RUN! UCLA is not yet able to rely on their passing game to bail them out of games. It is however, good enough to beat a team if the run game is working because that means the Ducks must adjust to it and bring up another defender in the box. Bringing up another defender creates one-on-one matchups on the outside which has plauged the Ducks all year.
Dye must step up in the holes unblocked and make the tackle within three yards of the line of scrimmage, or the Ducks will be in serious trouble.