Oregon prepares for WSU

Two true freshmen have made an impact on the Oregon Ducks and both are on defense. Linebacker Troy Dye was named Pac-12 Player of the Week following his first collegiate game and safety Brenden Schooler is team's leader in interceptions.

On Tuesday, Schooler was answering questions about the Oregon defense and that is normally reserved for upper classmen. 

Schooler made a play last Saturday that turned the momentum of the game around when he intercepted the ball in the third quarter. Schooler's play seemed to propel the Ducks, who were 33-17 at the time but the pick was the first real defensive spark the Ducks had during the game. Following the interception ( Schooler’s second of the year) Oregon’s offense came alive and the Ducks scored on a 1-yard run by Tony Brooks-James as a result of the turnover and the score became 33-24 following the PAT.

On the next defensive possession, Oregon forced Colorado to punt after three straight plays and again the Duck offense responded by mounting an 11-play, 74 yard drive that culminated with Kani Benoit scoring from 3-yards out. Now the score, following the PAT was 33-31 Colorado.

Again, on the next defensive possession, the Oregon defense caused the Colorado offense to cough up the ball, this time when Dye picked off a pass at the Colorado 31 and returned it to the 27. Not to be outdone, the Duck offense came back out on the field and took the lead two plays later when quarterback Dakota Prukop hit WR Darren Carrington on an 18-yard passing play for a TD and following the PAT, Oregon took the lead, 38-33.

The momentum though switched when Colorado scored on a magnificent pass and catch that had to be reviewed to verify touchdown and with the PAT, Colorado regained the lead 41-38 with less than nine minutes to play.

Oregon was playing catch up but was forced to punt following a ten-play drive that only produced 37 yards and again the Oregon defense was called upon to make some plays.

Colorado had the ball on its own 7, with 4:45 left in the game. The Oregon defense desperately needed to stop Colorado from getting a first down and while it took a review to determine that in fact the Ducks confined the Buffs to a 3-and-out at the Buffalo 16.

The outcome obviously was that Oregon drove the ball to the Colorado 7 and with a first-and-goal and :48 seconds left on the clock, disaster struck when Prukop’s pass was intercepted in the endzone.

However, it was Schooler’s defensive play that sparked the big comeback.

Following practice on Tuesday, Schooler spoke to reporters about the upcoming game with Washington State and how the team is progressing. As with Dye on Monday, this is another case of freshmen becoming the playmakers and leaders of the Oregon defense.

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