Wolf Pack were 'not quite ready'
EUGENE — Oregon got its mojo back Saturday night against an overmatched Nevada team from the Mountain West Conference.
Oregon's 77-6 blowout victory was the perfect get-well game after a heartbreaking 27-21 loss to Auburn in the final seconds of the season opener last weekend.
"As much as I felt like we were ready to come and play at a place like this, let's face it, we had too many players who showed that they're not quite ready," Nevada coach Jay Norvell said.
The Ducks will take that momentum into next week's 7:55 p.m. home game against Montana of the Big Sky.
After a slow offensive start in the first quarter, Oregon completely outclassed Nevada. The Ducks' offense was explosive, putting together sustained drives and big plays down the field. The UO defense was swarming and merciless, shutting down drives, racking up negative plays and creating turnovers.
As overmatched as Nevada was, the Wolf Pack did come to Eugene after edging Purdue 34-31 on a field goal in the final seconds last week.
Oregon racked up 623 yards of total offense, with 221 on the ground and 402 in the air.
Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert looked every bit a top-flight NFL prospect, completing 19 of 26 passes for 310 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Herbert did all of that while giving way to backup quarterback Tyler Shough with 7:56 remaining in the third quarter and Oregon up 49-6.
When Norvell was asked about Herbert, he preferred to be more introspective about his own team.
"I'm not disparaging Herbert. We didn't play good today," Norvell said. "We didn't play good at all. If we had played this way last week, Purdue would have scored 70 points on us. If we play like this next week, Weber State will score 70 points on us. He's a very good player. He played excellent today."
Wolf Pack redshirt freshman quarterback Carson Strong was impressed by Herbert.
"Justin is a really good quarterback," Strong said. "He's a top quarterback draft prospect for a reason. He stood back there and he was cool, calm and collected the whole game, and he was delivering strikes. I'm not really going to watch his film and take anything from him, but he's a really good quarterback."
Herbert got the bulk of his passing yardage in big-chunk plays, including a 66-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Breeland.
"The big plays, you can't pile on those types of mistakes, one on top of the other, and expect to have a proper outcome," Norvell said. "It's just not going to happen."
Nevada linebacker Lucas Weber said a big reason for the chunk plays was the Wolf Pack being undisciplined in the secondary.
"It wasn't like we didn't practice the plays (Oregon ran)," Weber said. "The biggest thing is guys weren't disciplined tonight. They wanted to come in on the run in the secondary. They were trying to be a little too aggressive on play-actions. They would just come down and bite, and we got beat. It's as simple as that. We didn't play well."
Oregon was able to set up the play-action pass by getting a surge from its offensive line to run the ball effectively.
"They knew who they were blocking," Weber said, of the Ducks' O-line. "They knew what to do. They were physical. They played well. We were doing some good things in the run game defensively, but they were able to play-action us a little bit and throw it over our head."
As well as Oregon's offense played, the defense was perhaps even better. The Ducks allowed just 192 yards (83 rushing, 109 passing).
"They didn't do anything we didn't expect," Norvell said, of the Ducks' defense. "We just didn't execute very well. They're a good football team. They're a good defense. They're well-coached. They were ready to play. I'm just disappointed at some of our execution and how we played collectively."
Strong said he believe the Wolf Pack finished the game with plays still left on the gridiron.
"It wasn't really about what they were doing," Strong said. "It was about us. There were guys open downfield, and I have to be able to see them and I have to be able to get them the ball. I missed a lot of plays. I left a lot of plays out on the field tonight."
There were indeed times when receivers were open. There were also times when Strong had wide-open lanes to take off and run.
The Ducks' defensive backs usually were able to recover and get to receivers. Oregon finished with two interceptions.
When Strong left the pocket to run, Oregon's linebackers cut him off before he could do any damage with his feet.
"They had a pretty fast defense," Strong said. "But there were plays out there to be made, and we just didn't do it out there tonight."
The Ducks truly showed their defensive dominance in forcing negative plays. Oregon had five sacks for minus-28 yards and 13 tackles for loss totaling minus-55.
"Typically when you have negative plays, (the other team) gets penetration and you're not handling the line very well. We didn't (handle the line very well)," Norvell said. "They had some pressure on the quarterback. They did a good job. They have a good football team. We didn't control the line of scrimmage like we wanted to. I felt like we could play better in the trenches today. But we've obviously still got some work to do there."
The game was surprisingly close in the second quarter, though. A 45-yard Nevada field goal cut Oregon's lead to 7-6 with 10:38 remaining in the first half.
The Ducks remedied that with 70 unanswered points.
"Everybody is accountable for what was put on film today," Norvell said. "I'm ultimately accountable. We didn't play good football today."
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