The words “most complete performance” were thrown around on more than one occasion during post-game interviews after the Ducks’ 52-21 demolition of Washington, and it’s easy to see why. After sluggish starts the last two weeks — albeit in two games that finished as lopsided Duck victories — Oregon dominated for 60 minutes on Saturday, scoring 35 points in the first half.
“As an offensive unit we did a really good job during the week of just pushing the tempo and making sure that we all communicated well,” Mariota said. “That really paid off for us today.”
The Ducks’ four offensive touchdowns in the first half came on four straight possessions and were scored by four different athletes. De’Anthony Thomas scored Oregon’s first touchdown of the night on a 16-yard scamper where he looked more like himself than he had in the previous two weeks, and Marcus Mariota added three touchdown passes by spreading the ball around.
“I think it speaks to the total team,” Kelly said. “I think that’s what we have — we have a lot of guys that can contribute and Marcus making really good decisions and not always having to have a go-to guy. When you can spread it out it makes you really difficult to defend because everybody’s got an opportunity to score. You’ve got to cover the entire field and I think it puts defenses on islands.”
Mariota completed 15 passes for 198 yards with seven receivers getting in on the act. Colt Lyerla had three catches for a game-high 71 yards including a 48-yard catch that was the only reception of his that didn’t result in points.
The freshman quarterback added seven carries for 46 yards on the ground as he continued to develop into a dual-threat quarterback, though his first option was always to throw the ball. Mariota’s footwork extended the play allowing his receivers’ routes to develop even on plays where he did throw.
“He’s looking to throw,” Kelly said. “He’s not always looking to run, but if you force him to run he’s obviously got the speed to take off and go. If you look at the one where he scrambled and found Huff and ends up with a touchdown, that really adds a huge dimension to your offense when your quarterback when things break down can buy some time — it’s really difficult to stay in coverage for that long.”
The Ducks got a complete effort out of their defense as well. Kiko Alonso was all over the place recording eight tackles, three and a half tackles for a loss, a sack to go along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. It was a productive defensive effort too. Avery Patterson picked off a pass and sprinted 43 yards to the endzone, his second score in as many weeks. It was the Ducks’ third straight week with a defensive score.
“I think it’s outstanding, it’s fun,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “It should be four weeks in a row if Kiko didn’t run right into that quarterback and Dior didn’t run out of bounds, but it’s really neat when you can score on defense.”