Ducks Way Too Much for Vikings

Call it no contest if you want because that's what it was. Final score Oregon 69, Portland State 0. Along the way the Ducks did as they wanted, even though the head coach and star running back weren't particularly impressed with the over all performance. That's saying something as the Ducks racked up 668 yards of offense and only allowed PSU 140.

(PHOTO) Kicker Rob Beard (93) kicks off while #96 Dion Jordan heads down field in Oregon's 69-0 whipping of Portland State. (Photo by Chris Tschrigi)

"We came out like we wanted to," said Head Coach Chip Kelly of his team's efforts against PSU. "Both out lines had great push for most of the game. That's where it's won for us, our front."

Sophomore LaMichael James toted the ball 15 times and tore off a career high 227 yards and crossed the goal on runs of 66 and 35 yards. James is now tied with Tony Cherry (1985) for fifth all-time in a single game by an Oregon player. It was also James' first time over the 200 mark. Yet he isn't satisfied.

"Today is probably my worst game I played in my career," lamented James. "I didn't play with a lot of energy or enthusiasm. I got to play better. It is just me. I wasn't the same guy I was last week and I need to fix that. It doesn't matter how many games I have played in. I'll be ready come Monday."

Granted, Portland State is in the Big Sky and now is 1-2 in the early season with both losses coming to Pac-10 teams – Oregon and the Ducks' next opponent Arizona State. Still though James made things look easy slicing and dicing the Viking defense.

"I think he can play better," observed a dead-pan Kelly. "He danced a little too much. He needs to trust his speed. The one run he opened up the game with is what he should do. As the game gets on he seems to get stronger and stronger. We were sloppier today than we were the first two (games)."

Okay, so let's just call it a building block for the rest of the season. Something to build on. While James is working to get better, his teammates did the best they could to be competitive in this game. Nine Ducks got into the rushing column and one of the more pleasant surprises was that walk-on, Andres Reed showed he is something way more than a practice player by notching 95 net yards on 12 carries (107 yards total) with a long of 36 yards. Remene Alston had 13 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Josh Huff showed his running skills running away from the Viking defense for 18 yards and a score. Huff had a total of 31 yards on two carries. Nathan Costa slipped in to the endzone on an option read and the starting quarterback Darron Thomas was a step away from breaking a designed run into the end zone. He only got 35 yards on that run and later said that he'll work on his "conditioning" this week so that he can go all the way next time.

"He did another nice job," Kelly said of Thomas. "He was forced to run a couple times and showed speed. For 3 games in, I'm really happy where Darron's at. He's young, he's a sophomore, and he'll keep getting better."

One name that normally would show up in the stat sheet for rushing is Kenjon Barner but he went out after picking up a first down in the first quarter and is now listed as "day-to-day" by Kelly. Barner had three carries for 28 yards.

Thomas had a decent day throwing four touchdown passes on 9-of-18 and 140 yards, but he also gave up an interception, which is was one of the few mistakes he's made so far this season.

Jeffery Maehl was the leading receiver for the Ducks with three grabs for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Daryle Hawkins pulled in one of Thomas' passes for six as did senior Malachi Lewis, the first of his career.

"We had good execution overall on offense," said Maehl. "We had a couple openings and made plays."

Defensively, the Ducks were fast and quick to react. Oregon had the second shut out of the season but when one looks at the statistics, only Brian Jackson had more than five tackles. Jackson, a redshirt freshman had his career high with eight tackles (four solos) and he also had an interception plus forced a fumble. Josh Kaddu, Bryson Littlejohn and Brandon Bair all had five tackles. Two of Bair's tackles were half of the Ducks' total of four sacks today. Zack Clark and Casey Matthews got the rest. In all 30 Duck defenders got in on the tackling action.

"We got a vision and goal where we want to be," linebacker Josh Kaddu said of the Duck defense. "We know how to keep our heads out of the clouds."

Portland State was picked off twice and gave up three fumbles. The truth of the matter is, the Vikings only had two chances of putting anything up on the scoreboard. The first time kicker Zack Brown was wide right from 52-yards out. The second time was late in the game and they trailed 69-0. Rather than attempt a 30-yarder, they went for it but turned the ball over on downs at the Oregon 13.

"They are big and fast," PSU quarterback Connor Kavanaugh said of Oregon's defense. "They bring pressure, they are an athletic bunch."

The hardest working guy on Oregon special teams was place kicker Rob Beard with two field goals (41 and 27 yards) plus nine extra points and 12 kickoffs. Jackson Rice, last week's Pac-10 Player of the Week for Special Teams, had three punts averaging 36.3 yards with a long of 46 and one landing inside the 20. Cliff Harris had one punt returned to the endzone but was called back on an illegal block, but he still ended up piling up 72 yards in returns with a long of 27 on five punts.

The game was the worst loss in Portland State history and Viking headman Nigel Burton felt his team was "very disappointed."

"In the end it was more mental breakdowns than physical breakdowns," said Burton. "I expected us to execute better than we did."

Kelly was happy with what his team did against Portland State and the development so far this season.

"We are developing our depth," Kelly observed. "We had the opportunity to play mostly everyone. It will pay dividends down the road.

"We can go back and look at experiences, but we can't pump our chests and say ‘hey 3-0 lookout! We have to play everyone in our conference. A wet ball is no excuse. We must focus on fundamentals, over exaggerate fundamentals."

Even though the Ducks are 3-0 and ranked the No. 5 team in the country, Kelly isn't ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. When asked about the upcoming start of the Pac-10 season against Arizona State and does he think the team is ready and how he feels about it, Kelly responded in his usual direct style.

"We better be," replied Kelly. "We got no options and we can't tell them (ASU) to hold off. We play them as they come. It will be interesting to see how things shake out. I feel our team is 3-0."

So likely tomorrow, Kelly will think it is Sunday (it will be) and the next day will be Monday, obviously. And just as obvious James will work even harder next week to be better and who knows, maybe he might be!


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