Oregon Football: 5 Most Important Takeaways from September
To no one's surprise, the Oregon Ducks are 4-0 heading into October.
They haven't faced any quality opponents but have still dispatched them in a way that tells us they are elite yet again.
In the midst of a string of blowouts (which likely won't end at Colorado on Saturday), however, we've learned a lot about this team.
Here are the five most important takeaways from the month of September.
All stats via ESPN unless otherwise noted.
The Defensive Line Is as Advertised
Coming into the season, it looked as if the Ducks might have their best defensive line ever with three proven and talented starters complemented by a host of experienced backups.
That script has played itself out through four games and is a major reason why Oregon's defense is allowing less than 11 points per game.
Tennessee rushed for 178 yards against the Ducks, with many of those coming late in the game, but no other team has eclipsed the 150-yard mark.
The team has posted 11 sacks, and Tony Washington is leading the way with three. But what you'll notice is that while the numbers are solid, the line just flat-out does not get pushed around.
Against the Volunteers, it had zero tackles for loss and yet managed to control the line of scrimmage throughout the entire game.
The growth of this unit will be crucial as the schedule ramps up.
De'Anthony Thomas Is the Go-To Running Back
Because you're likely only concerned with his status after Saturday night's game, it was reported Sunday by 247Sports' Justin Hopkins that De'Anthony Thomas suffered a sprain, and it isn't considered serious.
With that out of the way, one of the most important takeaways from September is the emergence of Thomas as the team's feature back.
That statement might not sound shocking, but it was reasonable to wonder if he could carry the load strictly from the backfield, and with 338 yards rushing and six touchdowns, he's answered that question.
Moving forward, we can count on seeing Thomas carry the ball 15-plus times per game and against strong front sevens, too. His role may expand a bit from the receiver position, but Thomas has proven that he is indeed an every-down back.
Marcus Mariota Has Some Accuracy Issues
Marcus Mariota is as explosive as ever. He has complete command of the offense, and there's no limit to the amount of different throws he can make.
With that said, he has some accuracy issues that have become apparent at some point in every game this season. That's called a trend, and it's officially worth noting.
Is it a major concern? No, but the only time Mariota was truly on his game was in the second and third quarters against Tennessee. That, coupled with what we saw last year, shows that he still has all the ability in the world.
Fans will blame the rain and the dropped passes, and that has skewed the completion percentage (now at 56) to an extent. But Mariota has missed a lot of throws over the middle and several easy ones to receivers near the sideline. Often, it's an issue of too much oomph, as the balls are sailing over receiver's heads.
This hasn't been reflected in the scores yet, but it will need to be addressed before the schedule gets tougher, or some of those miscues may end up really hurting the offense.
If there's one thing that separates this Ducks team from those in previous seasons, it's the incredible depth it has built.
Here's a list of guys who aren't technically starters: Bralon Addison, Johnny Mundt, Byron Marshall, DeForest Buckner, Ricky Havili-Heimuli, Tyson Coleman, Dior Mathis, Troy Hill and Erick Dargan.
Every one of those guys is good enough to start on the majority of BCS programs, and they help make up the second string at Oregon.
Of course, the Ducks rotate in backups throughout the game, but this team is built to survive injuries and fatigue more than most teams in the country.
The depth has also been evident in the second half of blowouts. While last year saw teams pile on garbage-time points, that hasn't happened nearly as often this season because of the strength of the team from top to bottom.
If It Plays to Its Potential, This Team Can Win It All
You never really know how good a team is until it suits up and hits the field for a real game against a real opponent.
It was fun to speculate about how good the Ducks could be, but until Aug. 31, we never knew for sure.
Through four games, it's clear that this team can win it all. For the naysayers, note the word "can." I'm not saying they will win a title or that they should be the favorite, but when the Ducks play up to their potential this team is as scary as you'll find in the game.
We thought this team was going to be special. After four games, we know it is special. Now, can it continue this run against better competition?
Only time will tell.
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