Oregon Ducks Game Day Grades – Week 4
JUSTIN HERBERT: QB
STATS: 26/33, 346 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT, 11-carries 35 yards
DRAFT STOCK: 3rd Round
Justin Herbert did exactly what he was supposed to do. Play like a Heisman candidate. If the game ended in regulation, he would have only had three incompletions. He was spectacular. He controlled the offense like a magician, carving up the Cardinal defense with his arm. David Shaw, Stanford’s head coach, called Herbert a “hell of a quarterback,” referring to his team’s inability to keep the Duck QB in check.
There’s truly nothing else Herbert could have done to win this game. Despite all the hoopla and bad calls by the ref, especially the one that took a touchdown off the board for the Ducks, leading to the fumble and touchdown return for the Stanford defense in the third, Herbert had the Ducks in position to win the game.
Regardless of all of that, if the Ducks can pick themselves up off the canvas and rebound in Berkley against the No. 24 Golden Bears, there is no doubt in my mind that Herbert has yet another stellar performance as he had against Stanford; this time resulting in a victory.
TONY BROOKS-JAMES: RB
STATS: 6 carries, 27 yards, 1 touchdown
DRAFT STOCK: Undrafted
This was supposed to be the breakout game for Tony Brooks-James to solidify himself as the starting running back. That, however, did not happen. If anything, he proved he’s just not good enough to be the guy in a powerhouse program like Oregon.
TBJ is just too small to be a force in the PAC-12. Yes, the Duck’ fans are going to have LMJ, LaMichael James, pop into their heads and say ‘he did it,’ well TBJ doesn’t have the quickness, or more importantly the vision to be that good. CJ Verdell stepped up and showed he should be the Ducks guy. Verdell had 20-carries for 115 yards and a touchdown.
I see Verdell getting the nod as the starter after his performance against Stanford, although with TBJ’s speed, he will still see plenty of playing time. He will be limited to sweeps and any other run scheme designed to go wide.
PENEI SEWELL: OG
DRAFT STOCK: Freshman
Despite four sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, four pass deflections, and one QB hurry, Sewell and the offensive line played amazing. For a team to defeat Stanford, they must control the line of scrimmage, and Sewell was apart of a front that did just that.
Penei Sewell played like a senior Saturday against Stanford. First and foremost he did not appear to be rattled at any point in the biggest game of his career; a Nationally televised game against a top-10 team. He was never lost during audibles, his pass blocking was textbook, he got off the ball quickly during run plays, and he helped Herbert and the Ducks offense control most of the game.
Just like Herbert, if Sewell plays like this for the rest of the season, the Ducks will be a force to be reckoned with. The offensive line proved that they can not only play fast like the old Chip Kelly Ducks but physical, smash-mouth football like Alabama, Ohio State, Stanford, and other top ten teams.
JORDAN SCOTT: DT
STATS: 2-tackles, 1 pass deflection
DRAFT STOCK: Sophomore
Jordan Scott definitely had one of his best games as a Duck, and in his case, numbers lie. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this question. Did Darrelle Revis impact games for the New York Jets even if he didn’t defend a single pass? If you answered no, then go away. You don’t know football.
Scott made his presence known early by clogging up the middle of the line and getting off the ball so quickly that he found himself in the backfield blowing up plays.
Scott is too big and skilled not to be a factor, even if he’s not the one making the tackles. When he gets into the backfield immediately after the snap, just cause he’s not the player making the tackle doesn’t mean he’s not the one responsible for that stop. It’s like getting an assist in basketball.
That’s how he must play from here on out. Cal is 3-0 and the No. 24 team in the nation. They like to the throw the ball and attack quickly similarly to Oregon, so it will be up to Scott again to break down the pocket and make Cal QB, Chase Garbers, uncomfortably throwing the ball.
JALEN JELKS: OLB
STATS: 1 tackle
DRAFT STOCK: 3rd Round
Again, like Scott, numbers lie for Jalen Jelks. Jelks did his job play after play after play. What was his job you ask? It was to keep edge containment and force Heisman candidate Bryce Love back into the middle of the field where his help is. Yes, Love broke loose once leading to a 22-yard touchdown run, but that was it.
If you take that one run away, the defensive line won the battle in the trenches against a team that prides itself in winning that battle. That is Mario Cristabol putting his fingerprints all over this team. It is the strong physical presence Duck teams have been missing in the past.
There isn’t much negativity you can take away from the defense as a whole. The corners need to get better at tracking the ball in the air, especially against tall receivers like Stanford possesses, but other than that, Jelks and the d-line dominated this game. There is no doubt in my mind they fly into Cal and make life difficult for Garbers and Cals rushing attack of Patrick Laird and Marcel Dancy.
TROY DYE: LB
STATS: 7 total tackles, 5-solo tackles, 1 pass deflection
DRAFT STOCK: 4th Round
Troy Dye had yet another monster game. He led the team in tackles, he had a huge pass break up on third down, and set the tone from the opening kickoff. Dye was reading the plays like Luke Kuechly, clogging up running lanes and making tackles. His ability in this game to read the play was what allowed him to stay unblocked. The quicker he diagnosed what was unfolding made it impossible for Stanford linemen to make it to the second level and block him.
Cal plays more of a style like Oregon. They want to spread you out and attack wide, yet this plays into Dye’s and the Ducks’ strength. Both teams are fast and athletic, which in terms could be a bit of a shootout in the beginning, but once Dye and this Oregon defense find their foothold, there will be no bending against the Golden Bears.