Ducks Find Success Sticking to What Works

Eugene -- Last week the Oregon defense looked lost, befuddled and totally out of tune. This week however, there was purpose, pursuit and a few sacks to go along with it as the Ducks (8-2, 6-1) demolished Arizona State, 44-21. Oregon made things easy for itself by jumping on ASU right off the start and by halftime it was clear the game was a route.

(PHOTO) The Oregon defense swarms an Arizona State player during Oregon's 44-21 win on Saturday in Autzen Stadium. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

Oregon held ASU to a total of 211 yards offense and while the Sun Devils wanted to establish a run game, the Ducks weren't buying it. ASU rushed for 127 yards on 38 carries averaging just 2.2 yards per carry. Contrast this to last week when Stanford ran amok over a Duck defense up to last week had been the Pac-10's leader in defense against the run. Granted the biggest difference between this week and last week was match ups – no one is going to confuse Brock Osweiler or Samson Szakacsy for Andrew Luck. Certainly Dimitri Nance is a fine back in his own right and has skills Toby Gerhart could only dream about, but why were the Ducks so successful this week and not last?

"Our focus mostly," admitted Casey Matthews as to what was different this week. "Less mental errors also."

Focus and attention to details has been a mantra Oregon's Chip Kelly has used all season and against the Sun Devils his defense were able to keep the Devils off the field. In the first half, ASU tried to run the ball down the Duck's throats as Gerhart had done the previous week. No doubt every team left on the Ducks' schedule is going to try and do the same thing. However, the aggressiveness came back for Oregon as it recorded two sacks, two quarterback hurries, five break ups and an interception.

T.J. Ward was Oregon's top tackler with eight (seven solos) tackles, Matthews also had eight tackles (three solos) as did Spencer Paysinger (two solos). Oregon also had seven tackles for loss including the two sacks.

It was a great recovery for a team that fell out of any chance for a BCS Championship bid, but the win over Arizona State surely steels the heart of Duck fans everywhere hoping to make a trip to the Granddaddy of all bowls, the Rose Bowl.

Even though the Ducks shot themselves in the foot by an interception, a blown kick off reception and some untimely penalties, for the most part the defense came back and looked like the squad that held been the real key to Oregon's success.

The coaches don't like talking about the Stanford game claiming it is over and done with and they are right, it is. Remembering all those mistakes would give anybody nightmares particularly if it was a result of trying to outsmart a bunch of smart guys -- like the Cardinal. Andrew Luck may see tricky NFL coverages someday, but if last week was any indication, then he already has a leg up figuring out complicated defenses, particularly when the defenders aren't so sure about what they are doing either.

However it seemed that a lesson was learned from the heartbreaking loss last week and a redemptive win this week – keep doing the things that make you successful. There's an old adage thrown around army barracks for the last couple thousand years -- keep it simple. Keep it so everybody on the roster knows what you are talking about.

We can't be sure that there was a lot of confusion among the defense last week because no one has come out and said so, it just looked that way.

So if Oregon failed to keep things simple last week in Palo Alto, it looked like they remembered the lesson this week. Hopefully for the Ducks and fans that lesson was well learned by a rookie coach and from all appearances it was.


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