With a 40-point halftime lead, perhaps a bit of complacency on the Ducks was to be expected, but defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti wasn’t about to use that — or the fact that the Ducks were playing reserves —as an excuse for Oregon’s lackluster second half that saw Arkansas State outscore the Ducks 24-7.
“There’s a great lesson to be learned,” Aliotti said. “When you get an opportunity, you gotta step up…We didn’t do as good a job in the second half as I would have liked for some of those younger kids to have done. …When you get a chance to play, you gotta play like a man.”
The Ducks held the Red Wolves scoreless in the first quarter and nearly kept Arkansas State out of the endzone for all of the first half, but Ryan Aplin found Julian Jones for a 72-yard touchdown pass with 3:20 left in the half. Alpin would toss two more touchdown passes by night’s end on his way to a 300-yard performance, with senior wideout Josh Jarboe tying an Arkansas State school record with 13 catches for 66 yards.
David Oku picked up a game-high 81 yards on the ground on 12 carries, with two other Red Wolves also eclipsing the 50 yard mark on the ground.
While he will use the second half as a teaching tool, the Ducks longtime defensive coordinator said he wasn’t going to let anything overshadow the final score, and in a week that saw several Pac-12 teams fall to less than stellar competition, it’s certainly hard to complain about a three touchdown win.
“We’re going to take the win and get ready for next week,” Aliotti said.
Among the Ducks seeing the field for the first time on the defensive side of the ball was super-recruit Arik Armstead, who picked up two solo tackles in his Autzen debut.
“I thought I played okay,” Armstead said. “I’m hard on myself. I can always do better but I’m going to keep working on what coach asks.”
With the Ducks offense scoring at their trademark pace Oregon’s defense was on the field a lot, particularly in the first half, though Armstead said that’s one of the things that drew him to Eugene in the first place.
“One of the things coach Kelly used in recruiting me,” Armstead said. “Was that the defense was going to be on the field because the offense scores so quick. I’m excited to play all the time with our offense scoring so fast.
The Ducks forced three turnovers on the night with two coming in the first half including an John Boyett interception that led to a 25-yard return.