Bender's struggles continue, while Hilinski shined and Jorgenson showed good poise and consistency.
Bender started the first drive, but didn't finish it. Following a third-down conversion, the offense struggled to find a rhythm. Then there were three consecutive incompletions, so first down was reset. Bender couldn't get the offense going. It moved to the defense's 35, but the play wasn't pretty, and coaches weren't happy with the inconsistent, sloppy execution. Frankie Luvu was able to get a sack, and soon after the offense was doing up-downs as punishment.
It’s unfair to hang it all on Bender. He works with the second team O-line and a mix of starting and backup wide receivers on Tuesday and Wednesday. In TNF Bender plays with the scout WRs. But Bender can't be completely forgiven, either. The second-year freshman does struggle with his accuracy at times, but there are chemistry issues because he doesn’t often get reps with the TNF receivers. Nonetheless, Bender was subbed out, and Hilinski took the reins.
Near the 30, Hilinski faced his third down, and relied on Madigan Taulelei to get the yardage. Later in the drive, a fourth down faced Hilinski, but he turned to a familiar face for TNF fans, James Williams. The true freshman busted through for a 10-yard gain to the 9. One play later, Williams finished the drive with a 9-yard run.
Hilinski stayed in at quarterback as the field was reset at his 25. Welcome James Williams again. On third-and-3, Williams took a handoff, cut to the right and busted 68 yards to the house.
The coaches liked what Hilinski and Williams were doing so much, the quarterback stayed in the game for another drive. This time it was Hilinski's time to shine. Hilinski had some misfires, but a 15-yard pass to Kaleb Fossum put the ball at midfield. After that, Fossum ate up 16 yards with a bubble screen, then Nick Begg pulled in a 14-yarder.
Williams then made his presence felt, breaking out of a would-be tackle by Ngalu Tapa behind the line of scrimmage to set up a first-and-goal. The defense denied another score, however, even though the coaches gave the offense five chances to punch it in. Among those on defense that stood tall were Greg Hoyd III and David Bucannon.
Jorgenson's crack was next. Calvin Green welcomed the young QB back to TNF by intercepting the first play of the drive. After Green’s high-jump pick and a Logan Tago sack, Jorgenson settled in. Around midfield, Jorgenson faced a fourth down — that if the defense had stopped would likely have ended the night -- but the true freshman scrambled and ran seven yards for a first down. A few plays later, the offense reached the red zone. James Williams finished the drive, once converting a fourth down, then eventually scoring his third TD of the night with a 5-yard run.
It may just be Thursday Night Football, but if Williams gets to play this year, good luck to the Pac-12 stopping four dynamic Cougar backs. If the Cougs elect to wait until next year -- the likely scenario -- then it will be fun to watch a four-headed monster next year.
The biggest standout for the defense was easily Bucannon. The fourth-year junior had several tackles and passes defensed, causing the defensive players and coaches to go wild with “BUC!” cheers and praising Bucannon’s stellar play from the sidelines.
Notable Notes: Check out the video above for Thursday’s Notable Notes
Offensive Thursday Night Football
QB: Peyton Bender / Tyler Hilinski / Christian Jorgenson
RB: James Williams / Alijah Lee
LT: Andre Dillard / Cedric Bigge-Duren
LG: Cody O’Connell / Noah Osur-Myers / Drew Norvell
C: Sam Flor / Carlos Freeman
RG: Moritz Christ / Chris Paz
RT: B.J. Salmonson / Davis Perrott
X: Erik Anderson / Kaleb Fossum
Y: Kyle Sweet / Madigan Taulelei
Z: Xavius Boone / Nick Begg
H: D.J. Thompson / Kainoa Wilson
Defensive Thursday Night Football
DE: Kingston Hernandez / Jacob Laird
NT: Ngalu Tapa / Devonte McClain / Austin Brown
DT: Hunter Mattox / Kingston Hernandez (when Laird at DE)
Rush LB: Nnamdi Oguayo / Logan Tago / Dylan Hanser /
WIL LB: Frankie Luvu / Paris Taylor
MIKE LB: Chandler Leniu / Triston Brock
NICKEL CB: Treshon Broughton / Colton Teglovic / Darius Lemora
CB: Kirkland Parker / Willie Roach
CB: David Bucannon / Deion Singleton / Aaron Hecker
FS: Hunter Dale / Skylar Cracraft
SS: Calvin Green / Kameron Powell
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Gerard Wicks / Keith Harrington / Jamal Morrow
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
C: Riley Sorenson
RG: Eduardo Middleton
RT: Cole Madison
X: Dom Williams
Y: River Cracraft
Z: Gabe Marks
H: Robert Lewis
DE: Darryl Paulo
NT: Daniel Ekuale / Robert Barber
DT: Destiny Vaeao
Rush LB –Ivan McLennan
WIL LB – Jeremiah Allison
MIKE LB – Peyton Pelluer
NICKEL: Parker Henry
CB: Charleston White / Kirkland Parker
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Taylor Taliulu
SS: Shalom Luani