What if I told you:
1) Jacob Breeland would not play
2) Royce Freeman would get six carries and leave in the first quarter
3) Dillon Mitchell would get injured and not return
4) Justin Herbert would get injured in the first quarter and not return
5) Blake Rugraff would get the majority of snaps @ MLB because Apelu was injured
6) Nick Pickett would miss the game
7) Tyree Robinson would get ejected in the first half
8) Taylor Alie would also get injured and leave the game
9) AJ Hotchkins would not play
If I told you all of that prior to the start of the game, pretty sure everyone would have said 'game over, Oregon gets crushed.' And yet they did not get crushed; they did the crushing.
Remember when I said I thought that this team showed a lot of heart and character even in their loss last week? That's what I saw tonight. This defense won the game. Flat out won the game. The much beleaguered offensive line, despite Cal absolutely knowing what was coming, opened up hole after hole in the running game.
Obviously the injuries to Herbert and Freeman are big blows. But now we get to see just how good this coaching staff really is in game situations; and the injury to Alie (looked like concussion protocol) was a blessing in disguise. Burmeister needed to get his feet wet and trying to keep that redshirt on him was a dangerous game by the staff. With the redshirt burned, we will find out a lot.
The real point is that this team is different than any team in the last few years. Sure, there have been times when some of those teams might have escaped with a win thanks to a singular defensive stop; but I simply cannot remember the last time a defense just took over the game like that; it is the antithesis of what we expect from Oregon - and I liked what I saw.
Jalen Jelks Grows into All-Conference level
When Jalen Jelks became the 9th commitment to the class of 2014, his commitment was met with somewhat of a collective yawn by many; but I really liked him even then.
Jelks had impressed at the Rivals Camp Series and was starting to get a lot more attention. Combine his impressive performance with his size and youth and there is plenty to be excited about for Oregon fans.
Jelks, while big and very athletic, does have some areas of improvement like most high school prospects. He has good pad level and a quick first step off the line. He shows good footwork and tremendous pursuit ability. He does have a tendency, though, to leave his feet when trying to make a tackle. That's easy to get away with in high school where you can dominate by your sheer size, but it won't fly in college.
These thoughts were a part of my film review of Jelks. All of what he showed on tape is there - and he has become a very good tackler. His high motor and array of moves combined with a defense that lets him loose have made him into a very high caliber - and reliable - defensive player for the Ducks
Brenden Schooler is the consummate teammate
Something I noticed last night, even when Schooler was not the player with the ball, when the Ducks scored touchdowns, it seemed like he was always the first non-scoring player to get to the end zone (well, except for on plunges into the line).
Re-watch the Kani Benoit TD and who is right there? Brenden Schooler. A starter at safety last season who did not let pride get the better of him - he simply moved where he was needed most this season. You just have to love a player willing to move around like this for the betterment of the team.
Injury Updates:Game changer: "WATCH: Kani Benoit busts out a 68-yard TD run for Oregon" on @CBSSports https://t.co/1Ld5F4e6uH— Scott Reed (@DSAFootball) October 1, 2017
The Herbert news is as good as anyone can hope for; Broken Collarbone on non-throwing shoulder, out 4-6 weeks. All things considered, not the worst news - and definitely not the 'out for the year' nonsensical speculation.
Royce Freeman, from everything I could gather based on what the coaches have said and some other sources, is not likely to miss much time; if any. It sure does not sound like season ending for Freeman either.
Obviously most recruiting people loved his film from last cycle. He was a late, but important, steal for Taggart and his offensive staff. I know that they really wanted to preserve that redshirt, but this is why you recruit prospects. He looked about as comfortable as you would expect in the situation to which he was thrust last night; but practice this week becomes critical. For the first time, he will enter the week being the 'guy' for the team.
The game plan that is developed, he will have to incorporate not as the guy calling in signals, but as the player who has to make the plays; understand the reads; make the right decisions; know when it is time to throw it away to save the yards. Those things that make or break a quarterback now rest on his highly rated, inexperienced legs.
I like him a lot. I wish he had a little more time to be in the system, but the situation cannot be changed. This is why big time recruits come to school - to play. Now he gets his chance.
Akili Smith, the former Duck and Cincinnati Bengal tutored him and did a fantastic job; Burmeister will be a very good QB down the road. But he is still a freshman and is likely to make some mistakes. We are going to have to have some patience with him and see how he develops over the course of the next several weeks.
One thing: If you think Cal was stacking the box to stop the run in the fourth quarter; you ain't seen nothing yet.. Cal does not have the horses that WSU and Stanford do. The next two weeks will be very, very physical.