Missed opportunites doom Oregon's offense

Oregon's hopes of an undefeated season are dashed on a Thursday night in Eugene.

The game was where Oregon wanted it in crunch time. In the closing three minutes, the Ducks had the ball in the hands of their Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota trailing by a score in front of a packed home crowd. It’s the sort of opportunity to cement a legacy that only comes once or twice.

“We can’t make mistakes like that and beat people in our league. We can’t drop balls and make bad calls as a coordinator. We can’t turn it over. We can’t take sacks. They played well and we missed a lot of opportunities,” said offensive coordinator Scott Frost.

A lot of missed opportunities that may lead to one big missed opportunity.

Unfortunately for Oregon, Scooby Wright III came up with the deciding play of the game as he literally ripped the ball away from Mariota and perhaps, the Ducks chance at the college football playoff at year’s end.

Oregon’s offense was out of sorts from the beginning as the unorthodox 3-3-5 style defense created issues for the Ducks all over the field. Despite being forced to dink and dump the ball down the field, Oregon was still in position to score but a fourth down pass bounced off of Byron Marshall’s hands ending the Ducks’ drive and taking away their opportunity to snatch the game from the very beginning.

Very uncharacteristically, the Ducks only managed 7 points in the first half when Royce Freeman took the pitch to the right and turned to throw back to Marcus Mariota who fought his way to the end zone, getting stripped just after crossing the goal line which showed as a harbinger of things to come.

“I just threw a dart. Marcus made a good catch and he wanted a touchdown so he fought for the extra yards, but that was a great play,” said Freeman of his first career touchdown pass.

Mariota fumbled twice, ending Oregon’s turnover free streak and killing Oregon’s momentum. The first fumble occurred as the Ducks were driving down the field and inside Arizona territory. The offensive line continued to struggle to protect a quarterback who may not be at 100% according to his offensive coordinator.

“I think he did well and he battled. He wasn’t 100% healthy coming out of the last game and we were again not trying to run him a whole lot,” said Frost.

While Mariota continues to find himself on his back, the offensive line also seems to be having trouble sustaining the running game. For the second straight week, the Ducks have gone without a rushing touchdown. For many, that would have been an absurd thought at the start of the season.

At this point, Oregon seems to have more questions than answers. If Jake Fisher returns in time to play against UCLA, will his presence be enough to shore up an offensive line that has been abused to the tune of 12 sacks over the last two games? At this point, how far Oregon will fall in the polls and a playoff berth should be the least of their worries.

Right now, Oregon just needs to win a game.

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