In Week 1, the Oregon Ducks looked like they were running against air as they went up and down the field, blowing Nicholls State out 66-3. In Week 2, Mark Helfrich took his team east to take on the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville. It was a major step up in competition for the Ducks, but they answered the call and found a way to handle their business in hostile territory with a 59-10 win.
It wasn’t always pretty. The big, athletic fronts of the Cavaliers put up a challenge to the Ducks and gave the offense some fits late in the first half and into the third quarter. The Ducks were often forced to sustain long drives before punching it in, but their speed, pace and overall talent were just too much for Virginia to contain the entire game.
On the defensive side of the ball, Virginia sustained a number of nice drives periodically throughout the game as the offensive line made some headway against the somewhat inexperienced front seven of the Ducks. But Oregon’s D made plays when they needed to, creating turnovers and negative plays when they needed to keep the Virginia offense from really getting their momentum going.
Oregon will have plenty of coachable moments from this game to build on as the season continues, such as finishing out drives with points and consistency in the passing game. Several Oregon drives stalled out when they got into Virginia territory and resulted in missed opportunities to put points on the board. Marcus Mariota looked shaky with his accuracy and wasn’t helped by drops from his receivers. The team also needs to cut down on penalties after getting flagged for more than 100 yards on Saturday.
On the bright side, though, De’Anthony Thomas put doubts about his ability to carry the load as the No. 1 running back to rest with another 100-plus yard performance on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. He ran tough between the tackles and was elusive on the edge, making all the runs needed to make the Oregon offense click.
In all, it was a strong performance for the Ducks as they showed why they jumped up the polls to No. 2. Handily dispatching a quality ACC team on the road will do nothing but strengthen the reputation of the Ducks as one of the best teams in the country this season.