Herbert Flies High While the Oregon Defense Remains Dominant
There's no getting around it — that was a snoozer of a football game. In the end, the Oregon Ducks went home with a 35-3 victory over the Montana Grizzlies. They proved dominant in several areas, but there was no statement made during the game. The offense wasn't as explosive as we've seen in the past, and the defense was stout, but there were few highlight plays that will be remembered.
After starting their season with a monumental opening game against the Auburn Tigers, the Ducks had cupcake games against two programs who are rarely mentioned in the college football landscape. They blew out both teams and got through their non-conference schedule with the record that many projected; 2-1. Let's take a look at a couple of things that Oregon did well in their victory on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
Herbert for Heisman
For 10 of the 12 quarters that the Ducks have played so far this season, quarterback Justin Herbert has looked like a supreme college football player, well deserving of being considered for the sport's highest honor. Against the Grizzlies, Herbert finished with five touchdowns on 30-of-42 passing for 316 yards and no interceptions. At one point in the first half, he was 10-for-10 with two touchdowns, and he now stands as the only quarterback in Oregon history to have five or more touchdown passes in five different games (Marcus Mariota had four such games).
While the Ducks have been without their three top pass-catchers — Brenden Schooler, Juwan Johnson, and Cameron McCormick — Herbert hasn't missed a beat and is still leading the Ducks to victory while looking like a potential national title contender. His mistakes are limited, and his upside is exponential. If he keeps putting up stats like this during conference play, there is no way he doesn't end up in New York City sometime in early December.
This Defense is All-Time Great
The Oregon defense held Montana to eight yards rushing.....eight. In the entire game. Meanwhile, they again went an entire game without giving up a touchdown, making it two straight, and counting. While there is no player that stands out among the rest, the defense as a whole is collectively dominant, and they allow the offense enough wiggle room to get off to a slow start if need be.
On Saturday night, the Ducks picked up one interception while rotating guys throughout the secondary, mainly due to a couple of injuries, on top of the coaching staff wanting to get some young guys new experience. What's stood out about this Oregon defense more than years past is the tackling proficiency. 10 players on the defense had three or more tackles, and the Ducks only allowed Montana in the red zone once, late in the second half, where they held the Grizzlies to a field goal.
The four total sacks and dominant run-defense says it all about this defense; they're much improved from years past, and they have the talent to run with anyone in the nation.