"In all three phases, I think our coaches did a great job this week of planning and another great week of preparation," said Oregon's Mark Helfrich. "At some point somebody is going to score on us and we have to see how we're going to respond and I think our guys did a great job of just playing the next play. Whether that was a great play or bad play, our guys just had a great mindset this week and put us in a position where we need to be."
Mariota was blistering hot throwing the ball as he connected with senior Josh Huff (six catches for 125 yards and a touchdown) and freshman tight end John Mundt (five catches 121 yards and two touchdowns.) Mariota also picked up a rushing touchdown to go along with 27 yards of rushing.
What makes Mariota's passing numbers so impressive is that in the early part of the game, the lanky Hawaiian was only 2-of-7 in the first two Oregon possessions, from that point on though, Mariota sizzled.
At the start of the game the Ducks appeared a bit nervous, committing penalties, allowing Mariota to be sacked and even missed a field goal. After Tennessee scored, the Ducks responded with a 38-yard field goal by Matt Wogan. The Ducks defense then stepped in and put the clamps on Tennessee.
Oregon scored on five straight possessions to close out the first half with a 38-7 lead.
In all, Mariota connected with six receivers. Bralon Addison had six grabs for 78 yards. Daryle Hawkins had three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Running back Byron Marshall had a catch for 36 yards and fellow running back De'Anthony Thomas caught a Mariota pass for 28 yards. Keanon Lowe also had a catch for seven yards.
"Yesterday was when I got the official ‘I'm starting,' said Mundt. "So from then on my mindset was just to make the best of my situation. The nerves overnight kind of went away. I knew my assignments, I knew what I was doing, I was confident, and I just had to execute. Once I started warming up, I got in the zone and just worried about football. I said to myself that If I got my shot, I was going to run the route, get open, get the ball and do what I can when I get it, and it went great."
Thomas led all rushers with 86 yards on 13 carries including a TD. Marshall had 41 yards and a score. Freshman Thomas Tyner made his second game appearance and crossed the goal line after carrying the ball eight times for 29 yards.
Tennessee's leading rusher was Marlin Lane with 63 yards on 13 carries. Alden Hill scored the final touchdown of the day on an 8-yard rush. The Volunteers first score of the game came in the first quarter on a pass from Justin Worley to Jason Croom covering four yards. Worley was 13-for-25 for 126 yards and the scoring pass to Croom.
Tennessee's loss is the worst since 1905.
Defensively, the Ducks stingy defense had a lot of players contributing even though no one player's stats stood out. Brian Jackson led the tackling category with six tackles (three solos) while Issac Dixon playing major minutes in the second half had four solo tackles. Rodney Hardrick recorded a fumble recovery. In all, Oregon had 32 defensive players that recorded in a statistical category.
Even though the Duck had only four pass break ups and three quarterback hurries Tennessee only picked up 138 yards of passing. The Volunteers running game was nearly as inept as the Ducks held Tennessee to 178 yards of rushing and a total of 316 yards total offense with much of that yardage picked up when the outcome of the game was well established.
"We started a little slower than we wanted to and they made some good plays," said senior defensive lineman Taylor Hart. "Then, we picked it up and finished it up. We did what we needed to do. We just made mistakes we shouldn't have and we fixed them and played ball."
Oregon's special teams performed well with Wogan's field goal. Alejandro Maldonado missed the first field goal attempt of game on a 37-yard attempt however Maldonado took care of the punting chores, booting the ball three times for a 46.3-yard punt average landing one ball inside the Volunteer 20.
Oregon now has the week off before facing California on Sept. 28, at Autzen Stadium.