Nate Longshore continued his run of excellence though not with the big passing numbers of the past four weeks with a mere three touchdowns passing and one touchdown rushing. Longshore had plenty of time to survey the field and with only a couple exceptions threw with great accuracy and velocity. His deep passes were well-thrown though the accuracy on longer passes does continue to suffer when he is not able to set his feet. A wide throw to Lavelle Hawkins easily could have been a touchdown had the ball not drifted right, a result due to Longshore having to throw while still moving due to pressure from an Oregon defender. An opposing defense definitely wants him to move around but with the generally excellent pass protection provided by the offensive line nobody but Tennessee has had success with that strategy.
RATING: 8.5 (1-10 scale)
For the first time this season depth at running back was a major asset for the Bears as Justin Forsett relieved Marshawn Lynch who left the game in the 2nd quarter with a tweaked leg. To date Forsett had been contained by opposing defenses but given the bulk of the carries he found space to accelerate and room to run for 163 yards and a touchdown. His below average size prevents him from gaining many yards after contact but superior quickness makes him a dangerous runner whenever space presents itself.
Lynch continues to show amazing versatility as a running back and receiver running seven times for 50 yards and catching one pass for 23 yards while lined up as a receiver. Only an ankle tweak in the 2nd quarter prevented him from posting another 100-yard game.
Marcus OKeith also contributed with strong inside running and a nice performance
as a kick returner, averaging 23 yards per return.
Pass receptions were spread around to seven different receivers including three wide receivers, two tight end, and two running backs. The diversity of targets made it difficult for Oregon to key on any one area and Longshore repeatedly found the neglected receiver for long gains. The speed of DeSean Jackson was exhibited on his two long catches as well as on his punt return for a touchdown. The only visible errors by the receiving group were drops by Sam DeSa and Robert Jordan.
Craig Stevens had a strong game with three receptions, a season high, and also punished
Oregon with strong blocking. Stevens has been criticized for poor hands but looks much
improved in this area.
This was by far the most impressive performance by the offensive line this season. The pass blocking allowed no sacks and Longshore was rarely even hurried. The run blocking opened holes not only for the powerful Marshawn Lynch who often makes his own yards but for Justin Forsett who typically needs more space. The o-line had only one penalty, a false start by Mike Gibson early in the game. This high level of play bodes well for the Bears as both of the major questions for team success going into the season - offensive line and quarterback play - will have been answered in the affirmative.
The defensive line came into this season with high expectations but before this week hadnt put together a truly dominant performance. The wait is over, the defensive lline physically dominated a much heralded Oregon offensive line, closing the gaps and winning the battles at the point of attack all night. The tackle totals are not particularly impressive (11 tackles for the group, 0.5 tackles for loss) but their physical dominance allowed the linebackers and defensive backs to roam free from blockers and make plays. Nuu Tafisi deserves mention for the pressure he put on Oregon QB Dennis Dixon which contributed to some erratic throws and at least one interception.
Another season-best performance by a position group led by Desmond Bishop who was all over the field making plays (10 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 interception) and was key to stopping the vaunted Oregon rushing game. Worrell Williams continued his surge with 5 tackles (1 TFL) and Zach Follett continued to show up as a playmaker (4 tackles, 1 TFL) and would have had a punishing sack on the board had it not been for the officials waving off a play due to an inadvertent whistle.
Brandon Hampton set the tone for the game intercepting Dennis Dixon on Oregons first offensive play of the game and the unit provided great coverage all night with the exception of two long pass plays where Daymeion Hughes appeared to lose focus with the big lead. Despite those two gaffes Hughes largely took Oregon WR Jaison Williams out of the game with his coverage and also provided great run support. Bernard Hicks had a great game in place of Thomas DeCoud, intercepting a pass, defending another, and making 8 tackles (1 TFL). Cornerback SydQuan Thompson had another solid performance providing tight coverage and good run support.
The special teams play had highs and lows, the high being DeSean Jacksons punt return for a TD and the low being the failure to recognize a trick play on a fake fieldl goal that set up an Oregon TD. Punt and kick coverage teams were solid allowing no long returns. Andrew Larson had a solid but unspectacular game punting with limited opportunities and PK Tom Schneider hit a season-long 44-yard field goal.
The most memorable game for the Bears since the 2003 victory over USC and perhaps the best team performance under Jeff Tedford. The Bears showed they can come to play in a big game with a national audience. This win solidifies the Bears in the top tier of the Pac-10 and with as many as eight recruits present and many more watching on television should boost future prospects considerably.
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