Ducks Embarrassed at Home, 37-10

Eugene, Ore. -- "I didn't prepare my team well enough," admitted Mike Bellotti after his team was humiliated on its home field in the final home game of the season. Oregon (7-4, 4-4) lost to Arizona 37-10 in a game marred by Duck turnovers and a strong Arizona running attack. The Wildcats improved to 6-5 for the season and 4-4 in the Pac-10 race with the win.

(PHOTOS) Arizona running back Chris Jennings (28) runs over Oregon defensive back Walter Thurmond (6) for a first down in the Wildcat's 37-10 victory over the Ducks. (Photo by Chris Wilson).

Bellotti felt his team failed to perform offensively, defensively and on special teams, and the numbers prove him right. Oregon turned the ball over six times, four interceptions and two fumbles (both on punt returns). The turnovers not only stalled out drives but also left Arizona in great field position and leaving an Oregon defense that doesn't work against 2-back sets much in practice with the responsibility of stopping a fired up opponent.

"It's difficult because it sucks the momentum out of you very quickly, when the defense gets a stop, and we should be getting the football," said Bellotti of the Duck turnovers. "Instead, they have to turn right around and go back on the field."

For the day Arizona had 363 total yards to Oregon's 346. The Wildcats out rushed the Ducks 230 yards to 163. Arizona running back had a career day with Chris Henry picking 191 net yards on 29 carries plus two touchdowns. His touchdown runs of 15 and 61 yards tore the heart out of the Ducks and their fans. Up until this game Henry's best effort was 94 yards against Washington State. For the Ducks though the refrain has become all too familiar because Henry is the eighth back this season to rush over 100 yards against them and the ninth if you count UCLA's Chris Markey who had 97 net yards. Too often on Saturday, Henry simply broke through arm tackles and went on his way.

"Defensively we didn't tackle very well, which is a shame," cited Bellotti of the Ducks' defensive effort. "We are trying to limit tackling in practice to limit injuries, and maybe we need to look at that and evaluate that a little better."

What the Ducks do in practice seems to be a source of irritation on a number of levels. While injuries have slowed down what the Ducks do in during the week preparing for an opponent there are some things the defense is not able to do – practice against 2-back sets. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti pointed out after the game that his unit doesn't see 2-back sets until game days. Aliotti isn't using that as an excuse, but pointed the fact out as an explanation of why they Ducks have had problems against the run this season.

Another factor could be that the Ducks don't have the likes of Haloti Ngata, Junior Siavii or Igor Olshansky.

"(We're) not as big but that's not an excuse," said Aliotti of the defensive front line.

Probably the most obvious question from the game today is if the Ducks will continue going with Dixon. Since the California game, Dixon has seemed to be less productive every game. Today was his worst as he was 14-for-22, 88 yards and three interceptions. Brady Leaf was brought in the fourth quarter with the Ducks trailing 34-10 and he promptly threw one up for grabs. Whether there is any consideration of benching Dixon, the coaching staff wasn't very clear on the matter.

"We will evaluate it, but I don't know about changing starters," comment Bellotti to the question about switching signal callers for the upcoming Oregon State game. "Which ever quarterback we feel gives us a better chance to win (against Oregon State) certainly will start."

Apparently there was less hesitation in replacing a two-year starter from his job at right tackle. Big Geoff Schwartz was not in the starting line up for the second time in two years. Earlier this season Schwartz was out for the Portland State game because of a back problem, but this week it was because the coaching staff didn't see enough production from him during the USC game and decided to make a switch. According the Offensive Line Coach Steve Greatwood, the staff was also hoping to motivate Schwartz along with his teammates by the move.

"I just think that every player needs someone pushing him," Greatwood said of Schwartz's benching. "It's as much to challenge him and challenge everybody out there that I'm not going to just sit pat when someone has a subpar performance."

Ironically it was when Schwartz was in during the first half is when the Ducks found the holes opening up for the only Duck scoring drive of the day.

The mistakes were so plentiful and common for the Ducks on Saturday that it is hard to know where to start. Dixon threw three interceptions and Leaf threw one. Patrick Chung fumbled a punt and put Arizona in excellent field position. Andiel Brown assumed the punt return duties and did the same thing Chung did --- fumbled a punt inside Oregon's 20 yard line. Missed tackles and blown coverage by the defense, and a seemingly overpowered defensive line, all added up to a disaster that had the crowd of 58,029 headed toward the exits early, in fact many didn't even bother coming back after halftime.

For a season that started off looking to be so special has turned ugly and it isn't very apparent why that is. Surely the injuries that occurred earlier in the season have had an effect and on Saturday the Ducks were without Jaison Williams (out with a back problem). However, the team is healthier now than it had been and at this point of the year every team has injury problems. Whatever the reason, the Ducks are taking some huge steps back and need to fix things during this shortened week because next up is the Oregon State Beavers on Friday at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.

"We need to get better in a hurry," Bellotti pointed out. "Right now, we have certainly hit a plateau, or gone backwards and that's frustrating. I think it's tied to the turnovers, and the play at quarterback. We have to evaluate that and make sure that is improves in a hurry."

Notes:
Oregon's bright spot on offense for the day was Jeremiah Johnson's 103 yards rushing, his first career 100 yard day.

Linebacker Brent Haberly played for the first time since the Oklahoma game on Sept. 16. He had five tackles.

Cornerback Walter Thurmond had a career-high 14 tackles (seven solo).

The Ducks did not cause or recover any Arizona fumbles or intercept an Arizona pass.

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