The Virginia Cavaliers found their way to Autzen Stadium Saturday night, making it the first ever visit by an ACC team to the stadium.
They may never want to come back.
Though Oregon still has a lot of work to do on defense, especially before heading to Nebraska for game 3, the Offense was outstanding in the 44-26 win. There were so many play makers, it’d be hard to highlight just one.
Royce Freeman was the work horse- at one point in the first half, Freeman was the leading rusher and receiver- and game MVP after racking up 239 yards all purpose yards and 2 touchdowns, including an 85 yard scoring run.
“Last week, I fell short of my standards,” Freeman said after the game. “I always want to get a hundred plus off carries.
This week, Freeman said he felt good and was getting a lot of “love” from Offensive Coordinator, Matt Lubick’s play calling.
With his performance last night, Freeman is well on his way to breaking several Oregon records this season and remaining in the Heisman Trophy race.
Wide receiver, Devon Allen, showed he is in full football mode, after returning from the Rio Olympics just a few weeks ago.
Well, kind of.
After catching a 77 yard pass (yes, you read that right) from quarterback, Dakota Prukop, and taking it in for a touchdown, Allen gave a nod to his Rio hurdles by leaping over imagine ones in the end zone.
It turns out Allen had planned the move for over a week, all in good fun of course.
“I wanted to do something that sort of incorporated the whole Olympic hurdle thing,” Allen said after the game. “. . .My teammates got a big kick out of it.”
Making the night even more special for Oregon fans was Tight end, Pharaoh Brown. Not only did Brown return to the game for a second time this season (a miracle in and of itself), but he started at his position and scored a touchdown, making the crowd erupt with pride. Brown’s story has been one of a kind and closely followed, making him one of College Football’s favorite “comeback kid”.
After the game, Brown was all smiles as he talked through the scoring play and hearing the cheers afterward.
“It felt good to score,” Brown said. “It’s been a long time.”
Perhaps one of the best takeaways of the night was quarterback, Dakota Prukop’s, performance. After playing a decent, yet safe, first game with the Ducks, Prukop stepped it up a notch and gave Oregon fans a reason to be hopeful in his ability to lead the team into Pac 12 play.
Prukop finished the night 21 of 31, 337 passing yards and 3 touch downs as he spread the ball all over the field to the many skill players on the field.
If all that weren’t enough, Prukop made good decisions and secured the ball all night, ending the game with zero interceptions or fumbles.
But it may not be his solid stat line that meant the most.
After a pretty safe first game, many fans wondered if Prukop had that big play-making ability that will inevitably be needed moving forward into the meat of the Ducks’ schedule.
Prukop answered that question last night as he made plays out of very little at times and showed he has a cannon of an arm, especially with that 77 yard pass to Devon Allen.
After the game, Prukop said he had total faith in his offensive line and that it was easy to play “when you have the skill players around you who just make the play no matter what,” Prukop said.
When asked if he ever feels like he wants to show off his own skills, so-to-speak, Prukop said he definitely prefers to play “point guard” and get the ball to the guys around him. He talked about having to be the guy to carry his previous teams, at times, while still losing the game.
“Nothing replaces a win,” Prukop said.
Looking ahead to Nebraska and Pac 12 play, Prukop said the team still has room to grow and that for him, personally, he is working on loosening up a bit.
“One thing that gets me sometimes is I get a little wound too tight and I got out there and I’m too calm,” Prukop said. “One big takeaway is that it’s ok if I get a little excited and I’m sure I will next week.”
Speaking of next week. . .
The Ducks will head to Nebraska this week to face the Huskers who are now coached by former Oregon State Head Coach, Mike Riley, who Oregon fans should be very familiar with. It will prove to be a big stage and will be the Ducks’ first true test of the season.
There are more questions to be answered, but one thing is abundantly clear: Oregon’s offense will need some help from the defense, but they are definitely doing their part to move the Ducks up the polls.
After last night’s game, Oregon fans have a lot of reasons to be hopeful.