If the Oregon Ducks were a stock, they would have lost a lot of money on Saturday. With a 49-3 loss to the defending champion Georgia Bulldogs, there aren’t many positives to take away from the season opener that kicked off the Dan Lanning era in Eugene.
Despite that, we want to go on with our regularly scheduled programming and identify players who either hurt or helped their cause with their play over the weekend. While the team as a whole did not perform up to standards, certain players looked good and might be making a case for a bigger role going forward. Other players who Oregon expects to be major pieces may not have gotten rolling.
In our stock report, we identify a few of each. Let’s get into it:
Stock Up: Chase Cota
AP Photo/John Bazemore
4 targets, 3 catches, 24 yards (12 yards after the catch)
The stats aren’t anything to write home about — nobody’s were — but Chase Cota impressed me in his Oregon debut at the very least. His three catches were impressive, and Cota acted as a safety valve for the offense. However, it was the one target Cota didn’t catch that impressed me the most.
Running a deep route down the left side of the field, Bo Nix led Cota with a ball to the inside with the deep safety converging. The safety timed it perfectly and drilled Cota hard in the ribs, knocking the ball free.
Bo Nix is out here throwing hospital balls now against an NFL team.
— Zachary Neel (@zacharycneel) September 3, 2022
Cota made his way to the sideline and into the injury tent for a bit, but returned to the game and played until the final whistle. He displayed toughness as much as he showed that he can be a reliable target for Nix. Let’s just hope his QB can protect him a little bit more going forward.
Stock Down: Bo Nix
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
21-for-37 (57% completion), 173 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs
8 rushes, 37 yards (4.6 yards per carry)
Speaking of Nix. … He’s had worse games, for sure, but the Oregon QB certainly wasn’t anywhere close to his ceiling on Saturday. While the offense seemed confident and competent early, moving the ball with some success, Nix had egregious throws on back-to-back drives, both of which ended in interceptions, leading to Georgia touchdowns.
The Bulldogs were ready for Bo Nix in the backfield‼️ pic.twitter.com/VpJCGRth2K
— ESPN (@espn) September 3, 2022
It will be interesting to see what Nix looks like when not playing an all-world defense, but Oregon fans’ confidence meter definitely dropped for the QB on Saturday.
Stock Up: Terrance Ferguson
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
6 targets, 4 catches, 37 yards (19 yards after the catch)
The sophomore tight end was Oregon’s leading receiver on Saturday. It’s unfortunate that it only took 37 yards to accomplish that feat, but at least a positive that Ferguson is finding his role in this offense. As a big-bodied receiver who thrives in short-to-mid-range looks, Ferguson is in line to have a big season as long as he can continue to grow his connection with Bo Nix.
Stock Down: Noah Sewell
3 total tackles (2 solo)
What a rare quiet game from Noah Sewell. On the biggest stage, Oregon’s star linebacker was almost a no-show, finishing with just three tackles. A lot of Georgia’s offensive damage came on the perimeter and in the flats, so that kept the ball away from Sewell’s main portion on the field, but he still struggled to have an impact in a game the Ducks needed him.
Stock Up: Jordan James
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
7 rushes, 15 yards (2.1 yards per carry)
I like the rushing attempts, and I’m going to choose to look past the yardage and yards per carry. What matters here is Jordan James was one of four true freshmen to get playing time on Sunday, and the coaches fed him the ball in the second half. Oregon has a deep running back room, but James showed on Saturday the coaching staff is working hard to get him reps and keep him in the mix.
Stock Down: Byron Cardwell
4 rushes, 28 yards (7 yards per carry)
Contrary to Jordan James, I feel like Byron Cardwell’s stats were pretty good — he had the highest yards per carry on the team — but his relative low-usage was a bit of a surprise. We have heard during fall camp that Mar’Keise Irving and Noah Whittington may have stepped up into the top spots in the backfield, and that showed on Saturday. I’m interested to see how big of a role Cardwell plays this year.
Stock Up: Jamal Hill/Bennett Williams
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Jamal Hill — 11 total tackles (9 solo)
Bennett Williams — 5 total tackles (3 solo)
As a duo, I was impressed with Jamal Hill and Bennett Williams. Neither had outstanding solo performances — although Hill’s 11 tackles led the team — but they were a big part of the defense and helped in the short passing game. On a day when Oregon’s defense was thrashed, I gained some confidence watching these two safeties.
Stock Down: Kenny Dillingham
Total Points: 3
Total Yards: 313
Total First Downs: 21
3rd Down Conversions: 7-for-15
Yards Per Play: 4.6
Look, I’m confident Dillingham’s offense is going to get going and can be pretty dynamic, but I was pretty disappointed with how it looked on Saturday. Granted, the Georgia Bulldogs are far better than your average defense, but the Ducks’ looked to lack creativity and an ability to adapt throughout the day. There were very few deep shots, and the Ducks were held out of the end zone for the first time since 2017. I’m confident it will get better, but that was a rough debut for Oregon’s new OC.