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Cal Football

Oregon Preview: Ducks Staying With QB Brown

October 14, 2021
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Oregon, which hosts Cal Friday night, was supposed to be controlling the Pac-12 North not looking up at Oregon State, Washington and Stanford in the standings..

And it was the Cardinal that caused the Ducks (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) their relative misery with the 31-24 overtime decision two weeks ago in Palo Alto.

Like the Bears (1-4, 0-2) Oregon had a bye this week. Rather than bask in adulation of their faithful, the Ducks were forced to defend themselves. Losing to Stanford does not sit well in Eugene.

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Anthony Brown

Other than what some critics viewed as some curious clock management at the end of regulation, the barbs were directed at quarterback Anthony Brown. The 6-3 senior transfer from Boston College who played a lot in the final two games last season prompting starter Tyler Slough to transfer, is not good enough for some Duck followers. They are clamoring for freshman Ty Thompson, the five-star recruit from the Phoenix area.

And Thompson has impressed in his brief duty this season. He has attempted 12 passes, completed six for 84 yards and two touchdowns. 

Nevertheless, head coach Mario Cristobal is sticking with Brown.

“If you look at our games earlier this year you’ll see enough plays being made, leadership,” Cristobal said this week. “You’ll see him complete drives. You can put it all together you see he gives us the best chance to win.”

The Cal staff is certainly impressed.

“The quarterback has a great arm,” defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon said. “He can make all the throws. He does a nice job on some of the first and second downs, a very capable runner.”

“They throw it pretty well,” head coach Justin Wilcox said. “They’ve run it so well then probably at times they didn’t need to throw it. The quarterback is a threat to run and he can pass.”

Running back CJ Verdell, a preseason honors candidate, was injured against Stanford and is done for the season. Verdell ran for 406 yards on 78 carries and six touchdowns this season, averaging 5.21 yards per carry.

Veteran Travis Dye becomes the starter and he is not too shabby. In his fourth year at Oregon, Dye has accounted for 382 rushing yards on 60 carries this year.

"I'm definitely ready,” Dye told the Oregon media. “I'm ready. My legs are ready. I feel good. I feel healthy. I'm ready to just do what the team needs me to do." 

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Travis Dye

He had a taste of being “The Man” after Verdell went down against Stanford and responded with 96 yards on 19 carries and also caught four passes for 39 yards. 

 

Behind him are three freshmen, all highly-recruited and inexperienced. Trey Benson was on campus last year but missed the season with an injury. Seven McGee and Byron Cardwell were part of the stellar 2021 recruiting class. Cristobal said at least one of them would play Saturday.

The wide receivers’ numbers are skimpy in the Ducks’ run-first attack. But both Johnny Johnson III (11 catches, 162 yards) and Mycah Pittman (5, 162) are dangerous.

The Oregon defense is run by former Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. It is a classic example of “bend don’t break.” The Ducks are last in the Pac-12 in total defense, giving up 412 yards per game. Yet they have allowed opponents to score just 21.8 points per game, third best in the league.

It will almost be two different defenses Friday night. In the first half defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux will be on the sidelines, serving a penalty for a targeting infraction against Stanford. 

“You have to account for him on every play,” Wilcox said, confirming the fact the Bears' offensive approach will change at halftime.

Thibodeaux, 6-4, 258, was voted the top defensive linemen in the Pac-12 by his peers in 2020. 

“I’m happy to have (Thibodeaux) back to be honest,” defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus said. “It was hard not having no edges. When (Thibodeaux)’s on the field it’s a big threat because they’re scared of his speed. When they’re scared of his speed I’m going to stay inside. It opens up a lot for me to work at what I want to do. It’s a great piece to have him back.

When he does return, it will mean the Oregon defense is as close to full strength as it has been in a while. Edge rushers Bradyn Swinson, who is still tied for the team lead in sacks (two) despite missing the last three games, Adrian Jackson Jr. and Jake Shipley are all expected to be back this week. 

Swinson’s return will be particularly impactful. “Getting him back will be huge for us,” DeRuyter said. “Especially with KT having to sit the first half. He [Swinson] had done some really good things, particularly in that Ohio State game when KT wasn't ready to play those couple of weeks.”

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Sewell makes a tackle

Inside linebacker Noah Sewell, who leads the team with 42 tackles, can be particularly disruptive and the secondary, led by cornerback Mykael Wright is one of the best in the conference.

DeRuyter’s tenure at Cal was not entirely smooth. In his first three years (2017-2019) he was defensive coordinator and directed a unit that had been the worst in the conference to one of the best. In the final year he was shoved aside to co-defensive coordinator with Sirmon, who became the pubic spokesman for the defense. He left Cal at the end of that season.

DeRuyter was diplomatic when asked about it 

"You know, my relationship with Coach Wilcox was very open. He was excellent at communicating, you know, what his thoughts were and I enjoyed working, there with him,” DeRuyter said. “Given that, you don't always agree with decisions. And as a coach, you're always open-minded, and I was very, very blessed and fortunate to get an opportunity here."

Oregon is one of the top teams in the country in turnover margin. The Ducks have thrown just one interception and lost one fumble. On the other side they nine interceptions and recovered four fumbles. 

“They have done a great job creating turnovers and they have also protected the ball well offensively,” Wilcox said. “I don't think there is any one thing. They’ve got their hands on some balls, there have been tips and overthrows their guys make nice plays on. Causing some fumbles. When those things happen it’s usually a combination of factors.”

Notes:

  • Oregon has a 15-game winning streak at Autzen Stadium, the third-longest active home win streak in the nation. 
  • The Ducks are 3-0 at home to open 2021, averaging 40.0 points a game while allowing just 16.7 points per game. 
  • Twelve of the 13 takeaways by Oregon's defense this season have come in UO's three home games.
  • Oregon has not lost to Cal in Eugene since 2007.
  • The Ducks are averaging 210.4 yards per game rushing, 27th best in the nation.
  • Oregon is 18-1 at home under Cristobal.

Related:

Tuesday Practice Report:: Musgrave, and Sirmon Talk Oregon Showdown

Wilcox Press Conference: 'Good Practices During Bye Week'

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion from...

Oregon Preview: Ducks Staying With QB Brown

1,557 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by GivemTheAxe
calumnus
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1. The refs assistance to Stanford year after year is galling. I used to think it was to get "a PAC-12 team" into the playoffs, but this time it was the opposite. It appears to be just pro-Stanford.

2. Interesting that the fans blame the QB. I guess that is what fans do. Though obviously if we had a freshman 5 star on the bench we would be clamoring for him to start too.

3. The comments by DeRuyter are interesting and contradict the "insider" party line that DeRuyter was fine with Sirmon's promotion over him.
BearSD
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DeRuyter essentially said, "Hey, you pushed me to the side, so now I have a better job! Sucks to be you!"
Big C
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Dunno who ever said TDR was fine with the way things ended up at Cal. Nobody would be, would they? Sounded like he "endured" it for a year (or was it two?) because he was still getting paid good money and he thought Wilcox handled it professionally.

Bottom line: Did Wilcox make a mistake going with Sirmon? So far, it looks like maybe he did.
wifeisafurd
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calumnus said:

1. The refs assistance to Stanford year after year is galling. I used to think it was to get "a PAC-12 team" into the playoffs, but this time it was the opposite. It appears to be just pro-Stanford.

2. Interesting that the fans blame the QB. I guess that is what fans do. Though obviously if we had a freshman 5 star on the bench we would be clamoring for him to start too.

3. The comments by DeRuyter are interesting and contradict the "insider" party line that DeRuyter was fine with Sirmon's promotion over him.
Their QB played a poor game against a good pass defense. He missed a lot of open WRs, made bad judgments and was intercepted, and threw to covered guys when others seemed open. I was the game, and it was obvious he was struggling by his and others' reactions. He is a good runner.

Furd is horrible agains the run, which makes you wonder about the first half game plan where Oregon tried to throw down field a lot. Oregon's OC had surgery and was not at the game, which may have impacted things.

I'm surprised by TDR's comments. That has not been the party line about the transition, nor consistent with TDR's comments since he has been at Oregon. Good guy, and wish him well.
Nasal Mucus Goldenbear
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wifeisafurd said:


Furd is horrible agains the run, which makes you wonder about the first half game plan where Oregon tried to throw down field a lot. Oregon's OC had surgery and was not at the game, which may have impacted things.
Yes. The only way for the Bears to beat The Turd this particular season is to RUSH (effectively: ~5 yds/run) ~65% playcalls, and keep them from rushing >120 yds on us. That is about the ratio of run:pass plays plus run D that drove K.State (31:14, 5.8yds/rush, 39 rush yds allowed), Ucla (51:29, 6.5, 67), and ASU (44:23, 5.8, 13) to beat them. We have several purtyokay runners on board including Garbers. Use them ALL, ~45-55 run plays (similar to BG 2009), from beginning to end. Run it down their throats, make them cry snotbubbles. Convert ALL the extra pt & FG attempts (jajajaja!). Have McKenzie back by then and keep the defensive front 7 fresh for the 4th quarter.
GivemTheAxe
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calumnus said:

1. The refs assistance to Stanford year after year is galling. I used to think it was to get "a PAC-12 team" into the playoffs, but this time it was the opposite. It appears to be just pro-Stanford.

2. Interesting that the fans blame the QB. I guess that is what fans do. Though obviously if we had a freshman 5 star on the bench we would be clamoring for him to start too.

3. The comments by DeRuyter are interesting and contradict the "insider" party line that DeRuyter was fine with Sirmon's promotion over him.


Maybe a mistake and maybe not.
TDR is a great DC. But
1. as has been pointed out before Cal's defensive performance started to decline while he was still at Cal.

2. When he came to Cal, everything I heard and read about TDR was that he was not at Cal for the "long run". I assumed he would be at Cal for 2-3 years then either retire or move on to a HC position at some other school. TDR did nothing to indicate the contrary.

3. What would any self-respecting HC do in such a situation? Begin a search for a long term DC then gradually ease him in. So it was no surprise to me when Sirmon was hired. The pandemic complicated matters. But the trajectory was clear.

4. Maybe TDR wanted to be the one to choose when to leave and maybe he wanted more control while he was still here. But that would be unrealistic.
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