Reality check for the Ducks as they prepare for Colorado
Its post-Utah reality set in, Oregon is moving on with some uncertainties.
Now unranked for the first time since 2009, Oregon heads into this weekend's game at Colorado looking for answers to the many questions that the 62-20 loss to the Utes brought forward.
It could start at quarterback. The Ducks' depth chart for the game lists Vernon Adams Jr. or Jeff Lockie at quarterback, the key there being the word ''or.''
Adams, a transfer who was deemed Oregon's starter just prior to the start of the season, has been struggling since he broke his right index finger in the season opener against his former team, Eastern Washington.
Despite the injury, he started in Oregon's loss at Michigan State in the second week, before sitting out the next week against Georgia State.
He started again against the Utes, but didn't last the half, making just two of his seven pass attempts. Lockie threw for 139 yards with one touchdown for the Ducks, who fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12. He was intercepted twice and sacked four times.
If the training staff tells coaches that a player is not ready to go, that's one thing, coach Mark Helfrich said about the decision to name a starter. Otherwise, the decision is based on who gives the Ducks the best chance to win.
''In general, when you're trying to get into the psychological side of things, the confidence side of things, that's where it's most difficult,'' he said at his weekly press conference. ''A lot of these guys are very competitive guys. They want to be out there no matter what. You weigh that. And we're always gonna put who we think gives us the best chance out there.''
While the starter at quarterback is uncertain, Byron Marshall will not play at receiver following an injury against the Utes.
Marshall left the game Saturday night with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. He was hurt on a kickoff return early in the second half and had to be helped off the field by trainers then taken to the locker room by cart.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior, the team's leading receiver last season, has caught nine passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns this season. He ranks 10th on Oregon's career list with 27 touchdown receptions.
Oregon does not discuss injuries as a policy, so the extent of Marshall's injury is not known.
Also expect Oregon to address some defensive shortcomings. Helfrich said earlier this week that responsibility for the adjustments is falling to the coaching staff, not the players.
Oregon had never before allowed 62 points by an opponent at Autzen. The Ducks' overall defense is ranked 110th among FBS-level teams, with opponents averaging 474.8 yards a game. Oregon's opponents are averaging 40.8 points through the first four games, and the Ducks have allowed 301.5 passing yards per game.
Helfrich also said the Ducks won't veer too much from what has worked in the past.
''It (a loss) is going to happen. How we react to that is under our control. We make constant changes, there's constant evolution when things are going great,'' he said. ''And when things aren't going great everybody wants to point the finger but we are definitely an outfit that is going to keep that internal and make the adjustments and go.''
Colorado (3-1) heads into Pac-12 play riding its first three-game winning streak in seven seasons.
With two losses, Oregon's chances of returning to college football's playoffs look dim. According to research done by STATS, a team from a Power Five or BCS automatic-qualifying conference has lost at home by 40 or more points 50 times since 2005.
But only three teams from a Power Five or BCS AQ conference that have had a 40-plus-point home loss have managed to win at least eight games during that season.