Making Grades: Oregon offense shines, while defense falters late against Colorado

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It was definitely two different teams against Colorado on Saturday. While the offense was full of treats, the defense struggled to completely stop a bad Colorado offense.

But if you’re going to have a clunker, you might as well do it against one of the worst teams in the conference.

The offense, however, was as efficient and dynamic in both the running game and the passing game as the Ducks scored on eight of their nine possession. It’s the kind of performance Oregon has been looking for since the Ohio State game.

Now on to the grades:

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QUARTERBACK

Grade: A+

In a word, Anthony Brown was awesome. The super senior turned in his best game of the season going 25-of-31 for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Oregon scored on all eight possessions that Brown was on the field, including seven touchdowns. The last time Brown was in Autzen Stadium, he was hearing boos. But he turned those boos into cheers against the Buffaloes.

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RUNNING BACK

Grade: A

Hello Byron Cardwell! The true freshman solidified his spot on the depth chart as the No. 2 tailback behind Travis Dye with a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. With CJ Verdell out for the season, it was important the Ducks find another reliable running back and Mario Cristobal may have found one in Cardwell.

Dye scored two more touchdowns Saturday, making it 10 for the season and six in the last two games.

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WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END

Grade: A

Once again, the receivers have shown their capabilities and they were led by emerging go-to guy Devon Williams. This is what the Oregon coaching staff envisions as they saw the possible depth chart for this group in fall camp. It was littered with four and five-star recruits, including Williams. He caught five balls for 95 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Troy Franklin also caught his first collegiate touchdown. A total of 11 receivers caught at least one pass from Brown.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Grade: A

The offensive line keeps on dealing with injuries and they just keep opening up huge holes for the running backs and protecting Brown at all costs. Colorado didn’t lay a hand on Brown all days as he wasn’t sacked once. The Ducks rushed for 256 yards. The big uglies up front made it look easy. The once inconsistent group is quickly becoming very consistent and one of the best in the Pac-12.

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DEFENSIVE LINE

Grade: C-

For the first time all season, the defensive line didn’t play up to their capabilities. Credit to Colorado, however. They held Kayvon Thibodeaux in check like no one has been able to do this season as he just had three tackles and no sacks.

Colorado freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis had a career day largely because he faced very little pressure.

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LINEBACKERS

Grade: C

Noah Sewell and Jeffrey Bassa combined for 10 tackles, but Sewell usually has 10 or more tackles by himself in most games, so it was just one of those days. Freshman Keith Brown did have a career-high four tackles, however, and depth players like Nate Heaukulani and Jake Shipley got some valuable experience late.

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SECONDARY

Grade: C-

We all know the Oregon secondary is better than this, but we have to be honest with these grades. It was the worst game of the season for the secondary, which is shocking considering how bad the Colorado offense was coming into this game.

Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis was 25-of-33 for 224 yards and three touchdowns making it easily his best game of the year. He also avoided throwing an interception.

Again, the Ducks are better than this and hopefully, it was just an off day and they’ll return to normal this Saturday as the Ducks will face another woeful offense in Washington.

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SPECIAL TEAMS

Grade: A

Kicker Camden Lewis rebounded nicely off of last week’s game where he missed an extra point. He was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra points and he also nailed a 27-yard field goal.

Punter Tom Snee got a rare day off as the Oregon offense scored on eight-of-nine possessions and on that one possession where the Ducks failed to score, they threw an interception.