Oregon vs. Colorado: 10 Things We Learned from the Ducks' Win over the Buffaloes
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks put on a dominating performance in Boulder, beating the Colorado Buffaloes by a score of 57-16.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for five touchdowns in addition to rushing for two more. The Ducks piled up 755 yards of total offense on the night. Both Bralon Addison and Josh Huff had two touchdowns receiving each.
Colorado was simply outmanned in this contest. Head coach Mike MacIntyre has the makings of a solid program, but it'll take time until Colorado is competitive from a depth and talent standpoint.
Let's take a look at 10 things we learned from this game.
Marcus Mariota Is One of the Best Players in the Country
Marcus Mariota is one of the best players in the country regardless of position.
He's so incredibly dynamic from the quarterback position. Against Colorado, Mariota went 16-of-27 for 355 yards and five touchdowns. He also waltzed into the end zone effortlessly twice on zone-read attempts. Although accounting for seven touchdowns, he left the game midway through the third quarter.
Mariota has started 18 games in his collegiate career. He's thrown for at least one touchdown in every start he's made in college. The signal-caller also set an Oregon record for the most pass attempts without an interception (202), according to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian.
It's safe to say that Mariota is squarely in the mix for the Heisman Trophy.
Mike MacIntyre Is the Right Choice for Colorado
Mike MacIntyre was a fantastic hire for the Buffaloes.
Colorado has a record of 2-2 on the season. The two victories in 2013 has already doubled the total from a season ago.
Against Oregon, the Buffaloes played like there was nothing to lose. MacIntyre instructed an onside kick on the opening kickoff of the contest. On Colorado's first drive, he was successful in converting a fourth-down attempt.
Later in the first quarter, he dialed up a double-reverse pass play that resulted in a 75-yard touchdown. According to Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado has been the only team this year to score on four different possessions against Oregon.
It will take some time for MacIntyre to build the program. Increases in depth and talent are desperately needed. However, he's got the program on the right track.
An Injury to Marcus Mariota Would Be Disastrous
The options behind Marcus Mariota did not perform well in this game. Should Mariota suffer an injury, Oregon's offense could look dramatically different from an effectiveness standpoint.
Jeff Lockie was the quarterback who came in for Mariota in the third quarter. On Lockie's first two possessions, he turned the ball over via a fumble and an interception.
Another signal-caller, Jake Rodrigues, took over for Lockie. Rodrigues went 1-of-4 for 37 yards. Much to head coach Mark Helfrich's dismay, Rodrigues threw an interception in the end zone.
It was quite clear during the telecast that Helfrich was not happy with the performance of both Lockie and Rodrigues. Neither played with any confidence or crispness against what could be called a very poor defense.
Paul Richardson Is a Stud
Paul Richardson was a bright star amid an overcast night.
He was spectacular against Oregon's secondary. He led the Buffs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (134). Not only that, but he also threw a 75-yard touchdown to D.D. Goodson on a double-reverse pass play.
Richardson's diving one-handed grab should go down as one of the best catches of the season thus far. He truly is the only viable threat on Colorado's offense. His ability to stretch the field vertically despite being constantly double-teamed shows how good he really is.
He, along with Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee, helps to make up the class of the conference at the wide receiver position.
Capable but Not Complete Without Black Mamba
Oregon's backfield did quite well Saturday.
Mariota, Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner, Ayele Forde, Josh Huff and company combined for 349 yards and three touchdowns on 62 carries. Those numbers truly are spectacular, and any program would love to produce at that level.
However, the Ducks are missing an electrifying piece to the puzzle.
That man? De'Anthony Thomas.
"Black Mamba" needs to recuperate from an ankle injury suffered last week against Cal. His speed, quickness and jaw-dropping agility add an element to Oregon's team that's been missing the past two weeks.
Against top conference competition (Washington, Stanford, UCLA), the Ducks need a healthy Thomas. The mere presence of him on the field makes Oregon even more diverse and exotic on offense.
Colorado Needs More Talent
Oregon has the ability to make any team look pedestrian. The Ducks roster is littered with upper-echelon talent at all positions.
With that said, Colorado needs an injection of talent across the board.
The skill position players are in much need of athleticism. Outside of Richardson, there just isn't any semblance of elusiveness or speed. A competent option opposite Richardson would do wonders for his game. Also, both lines are in need of an upgrade.
Not all is lost, however. True freshman linebacker Addison Gillam leads the conference in tackles per game (11.33). Sophomore defensive back Kenneth Crawley has the potential to be a solid corner with more experience.
The good news for Colorado is that it does rely on lots of freshmen and sophomores. As that group matures physically and emotionally, the team should continue to get better.
Bralon Addison Is a Rising Star
Bralon Addison is making a name for himself.
The sophomore from Missouri City, Texas, had two touchdown grabs on the day against Colorado. His five catches for 158 yards led the team in both categories. This performance comes off the heels of last week in which he had two punt returns for touchdowns against Cal.
Addison is now firmly establishing himself as the second receiver opposite of Josh Huff. In the absence of De'Anthony Thomas, the sophomore has really stepped his game up.
His emergence makes Oregon that much more dynamic and dangerous.
A Noticeable Difference Existed Up Front
Aside from overall team speed, the most noticeable difference between both squads came in the form of the offensive and defensive lines.
Oregon's offensive line was fantastic at keeping Mariota clean in the pocket. He had ample time to survey the field and make the requisite read. There wasn't really ever a time where Oregon's signal-caller was under immense pressure.
On the other side of the ball, Colorado's offensive line had lots of trouble dealing with Oregon's pressure. Credit defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti for ratcheting up the pressure in the second half.
There were a myriad of exotic blitz packages that forced rushed and inaccurate throws from Colorado quarterback Connor Wood. Colorado went 0-of-14 on third down for the night, and it was directly due to the pressure applied by Oregon's defensive line.
The old axiom states that a good football team is built from the lines and out. In Colorado's case, an amalgam of talent and depth is needed on both the offensive and defensive lines.
The Ducks Scored...and Scored...and Scored Some More
The Ducks are performing at a ridiculous pace.
Per ESPN, Oregon has scored at least 55 points in five straight games. That's the second-longest streak, only being surpassed by Oklahoma (six straight games of 55-plus points) in 2008.
Oregon accrued 755 yards of total offense in this game. Per Ducks assistant athletic director for communications Andy McNamara, that total is the second-most ever for an Oregon team.
Colorado was virtually rendered useless against the prolific offensive attack. Oregon did anything it wanted in this ballgame, and it wasn't even close.
The Status of Colt Lyerla
The curious and tumultuous case of Colt Lyerla continued Saturday.
According to Fletcher Johnson of 750 The Game, Lyerla was suspended for the game by head coach Mark Helfrich and thus didn't make the trip to Boulder. This came after a public dispute between Lyerla and Helfrich earlier in the season.
This could be a last disciplinary measure by Helfrich. Essentially, Lyerla will have to "get with the program" and move on from the troubles that have plagued him this season.
He is a massive weapon with the ability to be very effective on throws down the heart of the field. His athleticism is rare for a player at his position.
Oregon needs Lyerla against the stiff competition it will face later on in conference play.