Three takeaways from Oregon's 41-20 demolition of No. 12 BYU
Oregon dominated BYU from the opening kick. That wasn’t an upset.
The 12th-ranked Cougars were outmatched against the 25th-ranked Ducks. Oregon scored on each of its first six drives — five of them touchdowns. BYU had three turnovers on downs, a missed field goal, and a three-and-out in its first six possessions.
As statement wins go, Saturday’s 41-20 win over BYU is a pretty good one for Oregon, which now moves to 2-1 on the season and looks to have put a season-opening loss completely out of mind.
Here are three takeaways from the win.
Bo Nix’s day
The Oregon quarterback was uncaged on Saturday against BYU. And yet Nix was still tame. It was a beautiful thing for the Ducks.
When Nix was with Auburn, he began as the beloved son. Fits of frustration interspersed throughout the next three seasons created a fanbase that just sort of waved goodbye and quickly turned its attention to the successor when Nix announced he was leaving via transfer. You could understand why Auburn fans would be ready to move on, but you also had to acknowledge that Nix, when on, has been a pretty dangerous college quarterback.
Against Georgia, he was brutal, and the college football media/public buried him for it. As it turns out, Georgia is a pretty darn good football team; that win might have said more about Georgia and less about Oregon than anyone thought in the immediate aftermath.
Then, against Eastern Washington, Nix threw for five touchdowns but rarely looked too far downfield and the 70-14 win left so many still scratching their heads asking, “What is this football team?”
At least offensively, we got the makings of an answer to that question against BYU. Oregon ran the ball on 20 of the first 26 plays from scrimmage. Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington and Jordan James all touched the ball for the Ducks. Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said to BYU, “We’re going to run it, try and push us off the line.” And BYU couldn’t.
That ground presence made things easy for Nix.
Hit what’s there for you. Don’t force it when there’s nothing.
Late in the second quarter, Nix threw a ball away pretty quickly on a second-and-5 when the pocket broke down. Rather than force a throw or try to scramble and make a play, he knew the Ducks — who averaged nearly 7 yards a play for the game — could pick things up the next play. They did. Four players later, Nix fired a laser down the left seam to tight end Terrance Ferguson to put the Ducks up 24-7 right before the halftime break.
Nix looked deep a few times, completing a 50-yard bomb to Troy Franklin. He picked his spots, he was fearless when he scrambled, and he should have gained a ton of respect from anyone who left him for dead after Week 1. Nix finished the day 13-for-18 for 222 yards and two passing touchdowns, adding 35 rushing yards and three more scores on the ground.
Oregon’s Bo Nix goes deep to Troy Franklin.
Another explosive for the Ducks leading to a touchdown.
— Derek Peterson (@dr_petey) September 17, 2022
That offensive line, though
The game ball goes to the offensive line. They were BYU bullies. The Cougars were dominated at the line of scrimmage. The only opportunities they had to touch the quarterback were when he scrambled. If the Oregon QB stayed in the pocket, the Cougar rush wasn’t sniffing him.
They opened up a huge hole on the left side of the line for a fourth-and-1 conversion late in the fourth quarter. They wouldn’t be denied in close to the goal line on a pair of opportunities after explosives. On runs that needed 2 yards or less to convert a first down or a touchdown, Oregon was successful on seven of eight tries.
We thought they’d be a physical, potentially dominant unit heading into the season. Looks like they’re trending in that direction after three weeks.
(Oregon controlled both lines of scrimmage. The Ducks held BYU to just 65 rushing yards — adjusted for sacks — at 2.8 yards a carry. That group is still a bit more of a work in progress, though. There were flashes. There were certainly flashes.)
Another learning moment early in the tenure for Dan Lanning
Oregon pulled Bo Nix too early.
The Ducks went up 38-7 midway through the third, turned BYU over on downs, forced a three-and-out on the next Cougar possession, and then put Ty Thompson in to run the show. There was still 4:03 to play in the third quarter when Thompson entered. The offense then went three-and-out and BYU drove down to score a quick seven points on the ensuing possession.
The next possession featured a procedural penalty for the Ducks, a 3-yard gain, a 4-yard loss, and then an interception off a ball that bounced off the intended receiver.
BYU scored another touchdown four plays later. The scoreboard suddenly read 38-20 and the Cougars had some major energy.
This Oregon team hasn’t yet earned the right to pull starters with almost 20 minutes of game clock left against another Power team. (BYU is technically an independent, yes, but Colorado is technically a Power team. So…) The hook was too quick. The reserve units got plenty of work a week ago against Eastern Washington.
For a team that’s trying to grow into itself, keeping the foot on the throat would have served the Ducks better in the long run.
To his credit, Lanning was obviously frustrated with the close from the Ducks. The gas pedal might let up, but that doesn’t mean the execution should drop. They’ll probably harp on that this upcoming week.
Bonus: Christian Gonzalez appreciation
Christian Gonzalez is that dude.
The Oregon cornerback had some superb individual plays in coverage.