Ducks overwhelmed by Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. — The Oregon Ducks knew that losing quarterback Justin Herbert to an injury would hurt the team. But, wow, it has been devastating, and the Ducks are not only losing games but losing them badly.
Stanford jumped out to a quick lead behind running back Bryce Love, gave up only one touchdown and pounded the Ducks 49-7 Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
The Ducks (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) have been outscored 82-17 in the past two games, including the 33-10 home loss to Washington State.
While the Ducks rushed the ball well, going for 276 yards on the ground behind Royce Freeman, who had 143 yards on 18 carries, the forward pass continued to be challenging since Herbert suffered his ill-fated broken collarbone against Cal on Sept. 30.
True freshman Braxton Burmeister, who's clearly not ready for big-time college football, went 1 of 4 for eight yards and two interceptions in the first half, after which the Ducks trailed 28-7. He finished 3 of 8 for 23 yards, while senior walk-on QB Taylor Alie played briefly in the second half and went 2 of 5 for 10 yards.
But the reasons for Saturday's loss to the Cardinal (5-2, 4-1), who have outscored the Ducks 101-34 in their past two games, can be spread around.
The Ducks looked clueless in trying to stop Love in the first quarter. He rushed for 136 of his 147 yards and two scores, including a 67-yard TD scamper that gave the Pac-12's best running back nine consecutive games with at least one run of 50 yards.
The Ducks had some big plays early negated by penalties, which continue to be a big problem for coach Willie Taggart's team. Although Oregon scored a touchdown on Burmeister's 1-yard TD run, set up by Freeman's 59-yard run, it only slowed Stanford's momentum. Quarterback Keller Chryst, who went 15 of 21 for 181 yards and three scores, connected with JJ Arcega-Whiteside for the first of two TD passing plays, and the Cardinal led 21-7.
Stanford made it 28-7 when the punt block team plowed through Oregon's protection to block Adam Stack's punt and Brandon Simmons recovered it for a touchdown.
In the second half, Chryst threw the second TD pass to Arcega-Whiteside, and another to Colby Parkinson. Even backup QB KJ Costello, who saw first-half action as well, threw a TD pass, to Parkinson late in the fourth quarter.
Offense, defense, special teams all had problems, and it doesn't look good for the Ducks moving forward. Herbert might return in November, giving the Ducks an opportunity to make a push for a bowl game. But the next three games — at UCLA, 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at home against Utah and then at Washington — look like tough games to win.
The nation's leader in penalties, Oregon had nine for 101 yards (to Stanford's two for 15). The Ducks punted six times and went 4 of 11 on third-down conversions and 0 of 1 on a fourth-down try. Stanford dominated the clock with 37:17 in time of possession to UO's 22:43. And, the Ducks lost a fumble.
Oh, and more bad news: Two offensive linemen (Tyrell Crosby, Jake Pisarcik) and a running back/returner (Tony Brooks-James) left with concussions. Receivers Charles Nelson and Dillon Mitchell returned to action, but only Nelson touched the ball — one carry, five yards.
"We didn't play well enough or coach well enough," Taggart said. "We've just got to play better and more disciplined. Can't turn the ball over against a good football team and expect to win. We knew we wouldn't have the ball much.
"And, we didn't execute at the quarterback position. There were times (receivers) were open. Got to get them the ball."
Burmeister, per Taggart's policy, was not available for a postgame interview. Taggart does not allow true freshmen to speak with media. Burmeister supposedly has been practicing well, but it hasn't translated to games.
"Practice is practice, a game is a game," Nelson said, of Burmeister's play.
Said Freeman: "He's going out there and learning a lot. Experiencing a lot. He's only going to get better."
The defense gave up 504 yards to Stanford; coach David Shaw called it "a complete game" on offense. Love had 147 yards on 17 carries before leaving with what appeared to be an ankle injury early in the third quarter after a run on a drive that ended with a touchdown and 35-7 Stanford lead.
"No reason for us to put him back in with the score the way it was," Shaw said.
Ducks linebacker Troy Dye lamented the defense starting "flat."
Said safety Tyree Robinson: "Coaches had to yell at us and wake us up."
After Love's initial bursts, the Ducks fell victim to passes from Chryst (and Costello); and the Pac-12's leading team in sacks couldn't put the Stanford QB down once.
Arcega-Whiteside had six receptions for 112 yards — and a ball bounded off his hands in the end zone and into the arms of UO cornerback Deommodore Lenoir for an interception, or it could have been a 56-7 game.
Chryst had three TD passes in last year's game at Autzen as well.
Said Shaw: "The story of the game for me was Keller Chryst. Keller played so well, so composed. Handled all the protections and all the running game and made big-time throws. It's a shame he got an interception, instead of a touchdown pass, just JJ missed that one."
"We weren't fully aware of the situation," Robinson said, referring to Chryst's damage against the defense. "We had to be more aware, or they would catch us when we're asleep, running the ball down our throats ... and then throwing the deep ball."
Dye says that while the Ducks don't have their starting quarterback, "we don't worry about what our offense does. It's not our job. You give up 49 points in a Pac-12 game, you're going to lose."
The Ducks still need two wins for bowl eligibility. Suffice to say, the victories will be tough to achieve, unless Herbert comes back.
Overall, "we can't let it get us down. We've got to fight through adversity," Freeman said. "We're blessed to play another game. We've got to use this week to get better."
OREGON 7 0 0 0 — 7
STANFORD 21 7 7 14 — 49
STANFORD — Bryce Love 5 run (Jet Toner kick), 12:34
STANFORD — Love 67 run (Toner kick), 10:37
OREGON — Braxton Burmeister 1 run (Aidan Schneider kick), 8:48
STANFORD — JJ Arcega-Whiteside 3 pass from Keller Chryst (Toner kick), 3:26
STANFORD — Brandon Simmons 2 blocked punt return (Toner kick), 8:05
STANFORD — Arcega-Whiteside 12 pass from Chryst (Toner kick), 6:53
STANFORD — Colby Parkinson 3 pass from Chryst (Toner kick), 11:09
STANFORD — Parkinson 2 pass from K.J. Costello (Toner kick), 3:03
Att. — 48,559