The then-No. 3 Oregon Ducks fell at Stanford Saturday afternoon, making the dream of a College Football Playoff a long shot. Prior to the game, the Ducks appeared to control their destiny to make the event but now, Oregon needs to rely on other teams losing.
With the Ducks walking off the field defeated, most Ducks fans blamed two factors for the first loss of the season: the referees and quarterback Anthony Brown.
Now, with the Ducks in the midst of their Week 5 bye week before hosting Cal on Friday October 15, it seems like now is the optimal time to make a quarterback switch if the program wanted to. Making the change now means backup Ty Thompson could get two full weeks with the starters before making his first career start.
However, Mario Cristobal's comments following Thursday's practice indicate the Ducks will ride with Brown until the wheels come off.
"He's had some really good moments, some other moments where we need to improve upon...he certainly gives us the best chance to win," said Cristobal."He's done enough in practice, he's done enough in games."
Oregon's head coach added the program doesn't overreact when a game gets dropped. Instead, his staff trusts what it sees.
"I think a lot of times when you have a game like this and things don't go well, it pours on people. We don't believe in that. We don't do that. We believe our eyes. We work at it. We improve. We don't blind ourselves. Everything is competition in practice. Anthony has shown a lot, and he's done a lot of good things in a lot of different ways. He's going to improve and get better."
Ducks fans better hope Brown can improve his play because if he cannot, Oregon will likely fail to win the Pac-12 for the first time since 2018.
From the sound of the postgame media sessions on Saturday, Brown's aware his poor play cannot continue.
"Excuse my language but I played like s---," said the sixth-year senior after the loss. "We had a chance to put it away and we didn’t. I will gladly take the blame on that."
The Ducks' starting quarterback had his worst game of the season, throwing for 186 yards and an interception with a 53.8% completion percentage. On the ground, he added two scores and 35 yards on 12 attempts but he had two critical errors in the run game.
During his second touchdown run, the play appeared to have been executed incorrectly but Brown still found the hole for a touchdown that seemed designed for the running back to score. No harm, no foul.
However, Brown's most inexcusable error was failing to pitch the ball to CJ Verdell on fourth-and-goal near the end of the first half. For the second consecutive week, Brown failed to pitch the ball to Verdell for a walk-in touchdown and got stopped short of the goal line, this time resulting in a turnover on downs.
"Execute the play like we called. That’s all we gotta do right there; that’s a walk-in touchdown," Mario Cristobal said on the radio broadcast before consulting his team during halftime.
Oregon State Defensive Players to Watch vs. No. 11 Oregon
Can the Beavers' defense keep up its rare hot streak against their arch rivals?
Oregon State Offensive Players to Watch vs. No. 11 Oregon
The Ducks face another explosive offense on Saturday in what should be an exciting game
LB Keith Brown Out, TE/DE DJ Johnson Questionable vs. Oregon State
The latest injury updates from Eugene ahead of this weekend's rivalry game
After the game, Brown agreed: "Simple, I should have pitched it."
Later, with the Ducks in control nursing a 24-17 lead, Oregon elected to pass the ball on second-and-18. Brown threw an incomplete pass intended for Travis Dye which allowed Stanford to keep a timeout.
"Time management, I tried to make the throw," recalled Brown. "Had I had a little more time, Travis wasn’t necessarily looking at the ball and I didn’t want to throw the ball into space and cause a turnover."
Oregon would punt the ball to Stanford back with 1:59 remaining. Thanks to some dubious officiating, the Cardinal forced overtime during an untimed down on first-and-goal.
Then in overtime, Brown threw the ball to Mycah Pittman too late on fourth-and-8, allowing the Cardinal to push him out of bounds and clinch the victory.
Despite many Oregon fans clamoring for Thompson to start, it seems from Brown's postgame comments he still has the support of the locker room.
"The guys are telling me that they have my back. But honestly, it’s not good enough," Brown said. "A team as talented as ours, I can’t make mistakes like this. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and we did it. A lot. It’s going to sting. Sting a lot. We’re going to learn from it and move on."
Oregon will get a chance to right the ship when it hosts California at Autzen Stadium on Friday, October 15 with Brown likely making his sixth start of the season.
More from Ducks Digest
Join the Community
Follow Dylan on Twitter: @DylanMickanen
Like and follow Ducks Digest on Facebook: @DucksDigest