Holding their own.

Oregon extended their home win streak to 22 games by defeating the Utah Utes 24-10 before 45,712 sun soaked fans. The weather was clear and dry and so too was the emotion from the fans. While the offense at time had trouble making inches it was the defense that stood out for the Ducks.

"The turning point in my mind, I told the team at halftime," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti. "(Was that) we needed the defense to step up."

And that is what the Oregon defense did. While giving up 10 points and 207 total yards in the first half, the Ducks defense shut out Utah in the second half and gave up only 166 yards in the second half.

"We stopped them four times because of penalties on the kicking game," said Bellotti referring to miscues by the special teams. Oregon was penalized seven times for a total of 77 yards while Utah was penalized 10 times for a total of 89 yards.

An example of what happened occurred on Utah's second possession in the second half. After forcing the Utes to punt on their own 36-yard line, a holding penalty turned the ball back over and continued Utah's drive. The defense delivered and caused Utah to turn the ball over on downs on the Oregon 24-yard line. The Utah drive did two things, first it took nearly seven minutes off the clock and kept Oregon's offense off the field.

Once the Ducks got the ball back on their own 24-yard line, it took two minutes and 59 seconds to score a touchdown.

"I thought our defense played excellent football today given the lack of consistency of the offense," said Bellotti.

Bellotti noted that some defensive back-up players contributed to the second half success for the Ducks. Bellott mentioned Gary McGraw, A.K. Keys and Garrett Graham as players who came and contributed to the effort. Graham ended up recording seven and half tackles, had one pass deflection and one quarterback hurry. Keith Lewis nearly matched his numbers from last week in which he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the week with nine and half tackles. Last week Lewis had 10 tackles.

While the Ducks offense did what it had to do, it was not the highly polished machine that Duck fans have come to expect. Oregon could only muster up 107 net yards of rushing for the afternoon on 32 carries and 270-yards passing. Fifty yards of the passing statistic came on a trick play in the third quarter when wide receiver Paris Warren received a lateral from quarterback Joey Harrington and then Warren threw a lop pass to a wide open Justin Peelle. The offense though was not able to convert a score on the play and turned over the ball to Utah on a missed Jerred Siegel field goal attempt.

"We made it tougher on ourselves than we needed to," said Bellotti

Oregon was able to move the ball on the Utah defense but at certain points the Oregon offensive line was not able to open holes for Oregon running backs.

"The only thing I care about is points, but I do care if we have to run the ball for a yard and we don't get it, then I'm not very happy," said Bellotti. "And not very happy for that reason only."

The Ducks were 0 of 9 in third-down conversions for the afternoon while Utah was 7 of 19 for third-down conversions. On one notable series, Oregon was third and inches when Matt Floberg was stopped in his tracks on a conversion attempt. At times the Oregon offensive line seemed sluggish and leg-weary in the summer heat.

Overall the Oregon offense accomplished what it needed to do. Harrington had a better outing in passing percentage, as he was 17 for 27 and 220 yards and no interceptions.

"I thought I played more consistent," said Harrington. "I thought I improved a little bit."

Harrington did have his spectacular moments. Late in the second quarter, the Ducks found themselves deep in their own territory on their own 4-yardline. Harrington dropped back into the end zone to pass, nearly slipped to his knee but was able to recover and rifle a 34-yard bullet pass to Jason Willis for first down. Harrington would continue to engineer that drive to a score that put the Ducks in the lead 16-10.

A second remarkable play occurred on Oregon's final scoring drive when Harrington threw off his heels and Keenan Howry falling catch backward in the end zone for the score.

Maurice Morris led Oregon rushers with 59 yards on 12 carries and Onterrio Smith had 47 yards on 11 carries. Jason Willis led all receivers with 107 yards on nine receptions. Howry had five receptions for 47 yards and two touchdown catches.

One point that had pre-season analysts wondering this summer was how good would Oregon's kicking game be. Bellotti indicated he thought that punter/kicker Jose Arroyo matured much between game one and game two and had a good game against Utah. Arroyo had six punts averaging 38.0-yards with a long punt of 46-yards.

Utah's Dameon Hunter led all rushers with 106 yards on 25 carries. Utah quarterback Lance Rice was 21 for 39 and 170 yards passing. Cliff Russell had seven catches for 100 yards for the Utes. Utah had the ball in their possession for 35:44 as opposed to Oregon's time of possession of 24:16.

Bellotti was asked what areas his team needs in improvement. Bellotti thought for a moment and reflected the team is 2-0, but he felt the team needed improvement in every area.

"We did not run the ball when we had to run the ball," said Bellotti.

Onterrio Smith was suspended for the first of the game due to an off-season violation.

"Each team we play in my mind will get better," said Bellotti. "We need to get better every week."

Oregon has a bye next weekend and Bellotti indicated the team would practice four times during the week.

"I don't like the bye this early in truth I'd rather have it at mid-season," said Bellotti. "It will be good for us in terms of focus."

There were no injuries of note today and that is good news for the Ducks.

The intensity of the crowd seemed somewhat more subdued Saturday. Maybe it was due to the warm 85-degree weather or perhaps the fans expected an easy win over Utah. The Ducks will need improved line play and the loud raucous support of the Autzen fan base against USC or this year's battle cry, "one inch out of control" could turn into one inch out of reach.


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