Oregon Trounces WSU, 53-7

Eugene – The Oregon Ducks (5-1, 2-1) did what, where and when they wanted in a football game but the Washington State Cougars (2-5, 04) could do little about it as Oregon thrashed WSU, 53-7. The Ducks scored about every way possible and defended so well that one Duck could be the Player of the Week if Oregon fans and coaches have anything to say about it.

The Ducks scored six touchdowns and kicked three field goals but perhaps the safety created by a great pass rush is really the key indicator of what happened today. With Nick Reed taking the bull-rush by the horns, the Ducks kept the Pac-10's leading passer, Alex Brink well under his normal productive output.

Reed played one of his best games in an effort that suggested the Ducks were well prepared to counter anything Brink and his Cougar teammates had to offer. Green was the key to a second quarter safety as he broke loose from a Cougar offensive lineman and made a dash for Brink in the Cougar end zone. Brink tried to wiggle out of Reed's grasp and may have escaped had it not been for Oregon defensive tackle Cole Linehan coming up and sealing the deal by dropping Brink a foot inside the goal line.

"We had a blitz on and I got my hands on Brink," recalled Reed of the safety. "He started moving forward and (Cole) Linehan helped me out."

For the day, Reed ended up with 11 tackles (six solos) including three and half sacks of a total of five tackles for loss. The Duck head coach thinks Reed should be awarded the Defensive Pac-10 honor next week.

"He has an unbelievable motor," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti of Reed's performance. "He's not the biggest or fastest guy, but it's his effort that separates him. He is a great representative of our defense."

Brink, who had been averaging 304 yards of passing per game this season, was held to 251 yards on a 15-for-33 effort, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Those two picks may have set the tone of the game and inspired the Ducks who came into the game after a bye week.

The first interception was on the first drive of the game when Brink drove his team down the field. When it looked like the Cougars were going to be rewarded with some points for their effort, Oregon middle linebacker John Bacon stepped in the way of a Brink pass and stole the ball away. Bacon picked off the ball at Oregon's 23 and Bacon headed back up field for a 49-yard return. When Oregon's Dennis Dixon took the snap on the change of possession, he handed it to Jeremiah Johnson, and Johnson made a quick trip to the end zone, 42 yards later. On WSU's very next possession, lightning struck again when Duck linebacker Jerome Boyd intercepted Brink again, this time at the Oregon 5-yard line. The Ducks would create another turnover later in the quarter when defensive end Will Tukuafu forced Brink to fumble the ball and Boyd again was part of the action when he recovered the ball.

"We wanted it bad," said Bacon of the Duck defensive effort. "Our preparation for the game was the best it's been and we executed very well."

The Duck defense also held the Cougar running game to a dismal 63 yards. Washington State could not score until the 3rd quarter when the Ducks were up by 47 points.

"Oregon is definitely better than a number nine team," observed WSU's headman Bill Doba. "We can't come here, turn the ball over and expect to win against a team like this."

The Duck offense wasn't bad either. Dixon finished the day throwing for 287 yards on 21-of-28, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Dixon also scrambled for 16 yards net rushing but at times seemed to weld the Cougar defenders' feet to the ground. The Ducks countered WSU's blitzes by throwing screens and that paid off big dividends. Jaison Williams had four catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Johnson also was making the Cougars pay with both his running and his receiving until he went down with an injury in the second quarter.

Johnson wasn't the only injury the Ducks suffered. Cameron Colvin suffered a broken ankle, similar to the kind of injury Kellen Clemens suffered a couple of years ago. Colvin had just made his first reception of the day for four yards when he went down. Bellotti indicated that the nature of the injury to Colvin means No. 3 will be lost for the remainder of the year. It most likely will take between six and eight months for Colvin to heal and rehabilitate.

"I feel very bad for Cameron Colvin," said Bellotti of Colvin's injury. "He has worked very hard, and he was coming into his own and playing the most focused football of his career. It's just a shame to see him go down like this."

Colvin had regained his starting role against Stanford after Brian Paysinger was lost for the season resulting from an injury he suffered during practice. Colvin had been the leading Oregon receiver against Stanford and California. The highlight of his efforts was a 70-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the game against the Cardinal.

The severity of Johnson's injury is not entirely clear although Bellotti was pessimistic about the chances Johnson would be able to play anymore this season. Johnson was injured on a running play in the second quarter.

"Those are serious blows," admitted Bellotti of the injuries. "Our depth will be tested, but I have confidence that we will still be able to do the things that we want to do."

When Colvin went out, Johnson started to seem more passes thrown his way. When Johnson went out, the Ducks countered the effect by inserting freshman Aaron Pflugrad into the fray. Pflugrad ended the day with a very decent outing by scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a 22-yard post pattern. For the day, Pflugrad had a total of four catches for 47 yards and the score. Johnson was on his way to a big day with 63 yards on four carries and two touchdowns. He also left with one pass reception for 11 yards.

Derrick Jones also saw more playing time and responded with a touchdown catch. Jones finished the day with four catches for 27 yards total. Ed Dickson had three catches for 70 yards. Freshman Malachi Lewis had his first two career receptions for 21 yards. Garren Strong, Jonathan Stewart and Rory Cavaille also had two catches each. Ryan Keeling rounded out the receiver's statistics with a catch for 10 yards.

Stewart was the leading rusher for the game with 66 yards on 13 carries, but his day was over after the first drive of the third quarter. Dixon also took an early seat and that allowed Brady Leaf to come in and throw six times with four completions for 41 yards. Redshirt freshman Justin Roper made his debut as a quarterback and had a completion of 10 yards. Remene Alston recorded 13 carries for 26 yards and Andre Crenshaw toted the ball nine times for a net 24-yards. Dixon's day also included one rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

"It seemed like every time we sat down, we got right back up because the defense kept them down or turned the ball over," observed Stewart of the offensive effort today.

Brink's leading target was Michael Bumpas who had five catches for 80 yards and the solo touchdown. Jeshua Anderson had four catches for 127 yards. Charles Dillion had three grabs for 36 yards and Jed Collins, Kevin McCall and Dwight Tardy each had a reception. Tardy was the leading rusher for WSU with 11 carries for 34 yards. Marcus Richmond was 3-for-24 yards, with Gary Rogers rushing once for 15 yards. McCall had six carries for 14 yards. Brink was tagged with minus 24 yards because of the six Oregon sacks.

The six sacks came from Reed's three along with one each from Tukuafu, Linehan and Kenny Rowe.

"It was a team effort," confessed Reed of the pressure on Brink. "A lot sacks weren't made by the initial move. We made him (Brink) scramble and people were there to tackle him."

Patrick Chung was the second leading tackler for Oregon with seven including a tackle for loss and a break up. Jairus Byrd had five total tackles and two break ups. Walter Thurmond and David Faaeteete were also credited with break ups, while Ra'Shon Harris and Tukuafu notched one quarterback hurry each.

Kendrick Dunn was the leading WSU defender with 14 tackles followed by Andy Mattingly with 13 tackles including two sacks of four tackles for loss.

The win was impressive but it will mean little if the Ducks can not follow up with a similarly good performance next week. This was the first time in three years that WSU has been to Eugene, but next week will be the first time most of this team will travel to Seattle and visit Husky Stadium. It will be an experience they should not forget, as the Huskies would love to spoil Oregon's season with a loss.

The Ducks now have four serious injuries that in years past would have meant the end of any hopes for a great season. This team though is much different. It has tremendous depth and next week the Ducks will be put to the test, as they will be a rather young team taking the field in Seattle. It will be a time that they will feel the full brunt of the Oregon-Washington rivalry, this time on Washington's home field. If Oregon can win next week it will be another big statement about how good the 2007 Ducks are.

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