What we learned: Verone McKinley III is better than expected

NBC Sports Northwest

The Oregon Ducks made quick work of the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Friday Night matchup. A 45-3 thumping where quarterback Justin Herbert and the offense basically got to anything the Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) wanted. 

So what did we learn from the everything-they-did-works blowout win? 

We learned about Verone McKinley III... and he's better than expected. 

The freshman cornerback led the Oregon  defensive backs against the best all-around quarterback they've faced all season in Colorado's Steven Montez. They held him to 131 yards passing, 0 touchdowns, and picked him off four times. McKinley got two of those interceptions himself.

While senior linebacker Troy Dye or top freshman prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux might get a lot of the defensive hype, McKinley is poised to be a major contributor for the Ducks, now and in the future. 

Coach Mario Cristobal did not hesitate to throw praises McKinley's way after the game:

Verone is one of the smartest players that you'll see. He knows everyone's assignment... He is a student of the game and all his hard work is paying off. He has the confidence of this team.

With the rivalry game at Washington lurking next week, the Oregon defense will be a key factor in keeping the Huskies under wraps. UW fans are already worried about their recent offensive struggles, as outlined by UWDawgPound.com:

...the Husky offense is broken until proven otherwise. We've seen it now going on two plus seasons that against any team with a pulse, especially on the road, this team struggles to score.

For now, Oregon will take advantage of its extra day of rest thanks to a Friday night game.

But keep an eye on #23 in the defensive backfield as this Oregon teams chases another Pac-12 title and bowl game appearance. McKinley might just be the x-factor Oregon didn't know it needed. 

What we learned: Verone McKinley III is better than expected originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

What to Read Next