Heading into Oregon’s game today against Colorado, one of the biggest match-ups to watch was star wide receiver Paul Richardson against the Ducks’ secondary, led by cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
And all it took was Colorado’s first offensive play of the game to prove why.
The junior wide receiver, who leads the nation in receiving yards per game with 162.3, beat Mitchell down the sideline to catch a 55-yard pass from quarterback Connor Wood to put the Buffaloes in scoring position at Oregon’s 30-yard line.
The talent of Richardson appeared to be the first true challenge for Oregon’s secondary so far this season.
“We got tested, they did make a few plays, we just got to learn from them,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that after what happened in the first quarter today, the team will take this as a learning experience coming into the next game and the rest of the season, but both Oregon cornerbacks couldn’t deny that Richardson’s talent was some of the best they have ever faced.
“I can’t knock him, he did good,” Mitchell said. ”He (Richardson) was a little better than I expected.”
Mitchell also stated that he couldn’t even make up an excuse for the first play to Richardson and said he needs to be locked in.
Mitchell was able to redeem getting beat on the first play of the game by picking off two of Wood’s passes today. However, the junior from Sacramento, Calif. wasn’t completely satisfied.
“As a competitor, I rather have zero completions than picks. Picks are important but I would of rather held him to zero catches,” Mitchell said.
Ekpre-Olomu agreed and stated that Richardson was one of the best down-field receivers he has ever faced.
“I thought he was a good receiver. They put him in ways that he can get the ball in the open field and made it difficult on our defensive backs. He is a good receiver, so far one of the best that I have played this year,” Ekpre-Olomu said.
Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti echoed that the team did not come out as focused as he would of hoped.
“We didnt start very well,” Aliotti said. “I don’t know if we had their full attention, there’s no excuse about that.”
However, Aliotti stated that at halftime he had some words for the team, urging them to wake up and reminding them that this is not how they play.
“I was not happy with the way it started, but all in all … the third down defense was really good … the red zone defense was really good. We settled down and we got their attention.”
Allioti said that he always encourages his unit to not even get into red-zone situations and to shut every team down, but realized that in the tough game of football that is not always realistic.
“I’d love for us to think that we want to shut everybody out and not let them score at all, but in today’s football game it’s hard … it’s such a spread game that all it takes is one great athlete beating another great athlete, and that Paul Richardson was a really good football player. He had a really great game and he played well.”