Making Grades: Ducks turn in a much-needed victory on the road

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The final score might not indicate it, but the 34-31 victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl might have been the Oregon Ducks’ most complete game of the season. The offense was as aggressive as it’s been all year. Oregon finally utilized that deep receiving corps and the defense put pressure on Dorian Thompson-Robinson nearly all day long. It took the Ducks a couple of possessions to get their footing, but once they did, it was a dominating performance for the better part of three quarters.

The only reason why the final score was a close as it was on the scoreboard was because of late turnovers. But overall, Oregon improved to 6-1 overall, 3-1 in Pac-12 play, and are now ranked No. 8 in the country.

Here are our grades for the performance:

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QUARTERBACK

Grade: A-

This was the Anthony Brown we’ve all been waiting for since that win over Ohio State. Brown was aggressive throwing the ball and made some really nice throws down the field. He was 29-of-39 through the air for 296 yards. Brown also had a sweet 43-yard touchdown run showing how dangerous he can be at the quarterback position.

The grade would have been an A+ if it wasn’t for two late interceptions. But this is the Anthony Brown Oregon needs for the rest of the season.

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RUNNING BACK

Grade: B

Four touchdowns in four carries should earn you an A although the yards were few and far between. Travis Dye gained just 36 yards on 14 carries, but those four scores supersede the lack of yardage. Touchdowns are more important on any day. However, Oregon’s inability to get a strong running game could have been fatal had AB not shown up and presented a willingness to throw the ball downfield. The 4 TDs from Dye saved this grade from being much worse.

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WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Grade: A

Oregon finally showed the dangerous passing game we all envisioned when we look at all that talent on paper where the receivers are concerned. Devon Williams is quickly showing that 5-star recruit ability that USC desperately wanted to keep. Williams caught five balls for 80 yards, while Mycah Pittman had five more receptions. Johnny Johnson III caught all four of his passes on Oregon’s first possession. Although he didn’t catch anything after that, it was nice to see him get into the mix.

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OFFENSIVE LINE

Grade: B

The offensive line has to deal with injury after injury, but they just keep plugging along. The game plan was to pass protect for Brown and they allowed just one sack. Brown attempted to pass 39 times and was upright all day. On the downside, Oregon struggled to get much of a running game going, and had to rely on AB completely to move the ball. Once center Alex Forsyth returns, everyone else can slide into their proper position and the line will be a formidable group.

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DEFENSIVE LINE

Grade: A+

Dorian Thompson-Robinson wishes he was upright most of the day, but Kayvon Thibodeaux wasn’t having any of it. He sacked the Bruin quarterback twice and had 4.5 tackles for loss overall. UCLA’s offensive line had no answer for the Ducks’ pressure with Brandon Dorlus and Bradyn Swinson. DTR was sacked five times and hurried countless other times.

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LINEBACKERS

Grade: A

Noah Sewell co-led Oregon once again with nine tackles and he also caused an interception by hitting DTR’s arm as he was throwing. Jeffrey Bassa had six tackles and Mase Funa added four before he was injured. The linebackers were a key part of several blitz packages and UCLA either had no answer or was slow to adjust. Whatever the problem was, Tim DeRuyter’s guys were having a field day in the Bruin backfield.

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SECONDARY

Grade: B

It took the secondary a quarter or so to figure some things out with Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense, but once they did, Oregon locked down the Bruin receivers. DJ James picked off DTR once and then intercepted Ethan Garbers with less than a minute left to preserve the win. The Ducks did an incredible job at holding tight end Greg Dulcich down. One of the better tight ends in the nation managed only four catches for 50 yards. Oregon also limited those explosion plays. UCLA gained 20 yards just twice in the air.

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SPECIAL TEAMS

Grade: D

While everyone else was playing great, for some reason, that wasn’t the case for the special teams. In a rare off day, Oregon’s special teams had several mistakes. Camden Lewis missed an extra point, Tom Snee had a punt blocked (not his fault) and Oregon also had a kickoff go out of bounds for a penalty.

Hopefully, this was just an aberration and this won’t become a trend. Odds are, this was just one of those days and the special teams will become special once again.

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