Oregon Ducks Game Day Grades – Week 5
JUSTIN HERBERT: QB
STATS: 16/22, 225 yards passing, 2 TD, 6-carries 31 yards
DRAFT STOCK: 1st Round
Justin Herbert didn’t put up the numbers he did against Stanford, but once again he was phenomenal. He has such an understanding and control of the offense that playing looks easy. He knows exactly where his receivers are going to be and knows exactly when to hand the ball off or keep it himself on the read-option. In his junior campaign, he is showing the nation that he is the best quarterback in college football.
The following Saturday becomes the biggest game of the season for the Ducks, and maybe their most difficult. After losing to Stanford, the Ducks host yet another top-ten team that will ultimately shape the PAC-12, the Washington Huskies. The Dogs are an explosive offensive team and put up a lot of points, a lot like how the Ducks used to be when Chip Kelly was in charge. In order for the Ducks to win, Herbert needs to stay poised and calm even when the Huskies offense begins steamrolling.
Washington’s defense is sound; they have a lot of speed and are disciplined, similarly to Stanford just less physical. Herbert must be adept at making the right reads and getting the ball out quickly so his receivers can make plays in space. If he holds on to the ball too long, he will be sacked time and time again and Oregon will find themselves too far behind to come back. The Huskies have routed the Ducks in their last two meetings and now it’s time for the tides to turn.
TONY BROOKS-JAMES: RB
DRAFT STOCK: Undrafted
After the Stanford game, it is clear for all to see that Mario Cristabol has relinquished TBJ’s role on the team. Travis Dye and CJ Verdell have proven to be the go-to backs with each of them reaching the century mark on the ground against the Golden Bears. TBJ was demoted to a special teams player as his speed in the open field makes him a dangerous weapon when returning kicks.
There won’t much change here the rest of the year, barring any unforeseen injury to Verdell or Dye. TBJ will remain a kickoff returner for the Ducks and that will most likely be it for him.
PENEI SEWELL: OG
DRAFT STOCK: Freshman
Sewell not only continues to earn the respect from his teammates and coaches, but he’s ensured everyone that Cristabol knew exactly what he’s doing when the decision came to make a true freshman a starter. The O-line continued their dominance at the forefront of the offensive success (485 total yards, 225 passing, 260 rushing) as the Ducks beat the Bears 42-24.
Against the No. 10 Huskies, Sewell is going to have to maintain his excellence. The Dogs defense depends on speed and athleticism, whereas the Cardinal rely on physicality to impose their will against their opponent’s. The Huskies like to blitz and disguise their rushing schemes that will test the IQ of this freshman. For Sewell, constant communication will be the biggest key to his, and his teams, success for the Ducks to be taken as a serious contender.
JORDAN SCOTT: DT
STATS: 3-tackles, 2 solo tackles, 1 TFL
DRAFT STOCK: Sophomore
Jordan Scott continues to show why the coaching staffs lean on him in the middle of a fierce d-line. His strength is shockingly his athleticism with a frame coming in at 6’1 329 lbs. He’s not one of those big guys who are slow-footed, instead, he posses the ability to get off the ball with lightning quick reflexes that centers or guards are unable to block him.
The speed, depth, and athleticism of Washington will make Scott’s job monumental this weekend. Huskies QB Jake Browning is one of the best in college when he has time to set his feet.
Scott and the Ducks must put constant pressure on him and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Yes, Browning can and will run as a last resort, but he’s not the type of player who will beat you with his legs like Cal’s QB McIlwain. Browning wants to beat you with his arm first and legs second.
If the Ducks force him to throw the ball before he’s ready and force him to be a runner first, they will disrupt the timing of the offense and increase their chances at an upset.
JALEN JELKS: OLB
STATS: 5 tackles, 2 solo tackles,
DRAFT STOCK: 3rd Round
This was more of a typical Jelks statistical game. Against the Bears, Jelks made his presence felt early. Cal platooned two QBs to attack the Ducks defense. Chase Garbers was used as a more traditional QB to attack through the air, while Brandon McIlwain found success running the ball.
McIlwain ended up getting more snaps and passes than Garbers because of the success he found running the ball. He ended up with 15 carries for 123 yards and one touchdown by way of his legs. Throwing the ball was a different story. Although he completed over 50 percent of his passes, 11/21, he had one touchdown but two crucial interceptions that helped seal the victory for the Ducks.
This was a great first test for the Duck defense to see a running QB. As I mentioned earlier, Browning, Washington’s QB, will run the ball, but not like McIlwain. When McIlwain runs the ball he is looking to break off a long run. Browning is only looking to move the chains.
To beat the Huskies, Jelks and the Duck defense must contain Browning by collapsing the pocket around him. The more uncomfortable the Ducks make Browning the more successful they’ll be.
TROY DYE: LB
STATS: 11 total tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 QB hurry
DRAFT STOCK: 4th Round
Dye was everywhere, making tackle after tackle. However, I wouldn’t really call this a great game for him. The Cal Golden Bears apparently exposed a weakness of the Ducks, or just completely caught them off guard. Cal made this game much closer than it should have been by having QB McIlwain run straight up the middle for 123 yards.
Now, most of it was the linemen getting into the second level and blocking Dye and the linebackers resulting in big gains. I have to assume this was just the Bears catching the Ducks sleeping because Oregon was able to bottle up Stanford’s Bryce Love, which ain’t no easy task. So this just had to be something the Ducks weren’t expecting.
With that said, it was the best thing the Ducks could have asked for one week before they face-off against the Huskies. This gave the Ducks their first look at an offense that can execute the read-option well enough to be successful, and that’s what the Huskies do.
However, Browning is not as athletic as the Bears QB. So the Ducks were able to get their feet wet with a true mobile QB and can now truly plan for it with their next matchup.
Dye must play with the same intensity he did against Stanford this Saturday against Washington. He also must also understand when there’s a running play and when it’s a passing play.
As the middle linebacker, he must shed the blockers in the second level and clog up the running lanes to avoid monster runs. In the passing game, the Huskies love to attack the middle of the field with crossing patterns. His head must be on a swivel in order to see receivers coming across the middle so he can defend against those plays.