Stock-up, Stock-down: Which Oregon players made the biggest impressions in Week 1?

·7 min read

We’d be lying if we said that the Oregon Ducks stock as a whole was through the roof after their Week 1 performance against Fresno State.

With the betting spread favoring them to win by three scores, it was disappointing to see the Ducks trailing by a field goal late into the game, needing a go-ahead touchdown from QB Anthony Brown with under three minutes left to keep their home winning streak alive.

Nonetheless, they won the game, and it will ultimately be a small footnote in what hopefully turns out to be a memorable season. But still, in order to learn and get better, we need to look at the individual performances and see what needs to improve, and where the Ducks are on the right track. Here is who trended up, and trended down on Saturday:

Stock Up: Justin Flowe

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It comes as no surprise that Justin Flowe saw the biggest boost on Saturday afternoon, playing his first full game in Autzen Stadium. The freshman led the team in tackles with 14, and also had a crucial forced fumble in the 4th quarter to give the offense the ball with enough time to score the go-ahead touchdown. There were expectedly a couple of rookie mistakes on the day — Flowe was penalized on a late hit to the quarterback that could have very easily been reviewed for targeting and left him suspended for the first half against Ohio State — but as a whole, it was enthralling to see the new Oregon linebacker in action. We were arguably the most excited to see him play going into the game, and he surely didn't disappoint.

Stock Down: Anthony Brown Jr.

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At this point, we've already gone deep into the workings of Anthony Brown Jr., noting that he may not have played the best game on Saturday, but to blame him for the offensive stagnation as a whole is unfair. Check it out here if you haven't already. Regardless, it is fair to say that his stock is down a bit after Week 1. Brown managed to throw for only 172 yards and one touchdown, adding 56 yards on the ground with the go-ahead score. The offensive line wasn't great, the running game struggled until late in the game, and the receivers were largely unable to create separation throughout the day. Still, though, you'd hope to see your QB1 overcome that in the end, and while AB13 did, he left some questions up in the air.

Stock Up: Kayvon Thibodeaux

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

If your name is Kayvon Thibodeaux, you have to play incredibly well in 1.5 quarters to make us think even higher of you than we already did. Well, No. 5 certainly did that, showing in a handful of drives that he is going to be dominant this season. It started off with a pressure leading to a sack in the first drive, and then a strip-sack on the second, which gave the offense the ball on the 3-yard line. Unfortunately, Thibodeaux exited the game at halftime with a sprained ankle, but there is some belief that he won't be out for very long with a chance to play against Ohio State. We knew coming into the year that Kayvon was going to have a big season worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration, and his Week 1 performance certainly solidified that.

Stock Down: Troy Franklin

It may seem unfair to say that Troy Franklin's stock is down after Week 1 since he didn't really do anything poorly, but that's the problem — he didn't really do anything at all. After being listed as the starting X receiver on Oregon's depth chart, it was WR Kris Hutson who got the start over Franklin on Saturday, and the true freshman rarely saw the field throughout the day. He finished the day with zero targets and zero catches. We are unsure if it was due to injury or something of that nature, but after a lot of hype for the up-and-coming receiving threat, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Stock Up: Johnny Johnson III

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The receivers as a whole didn't play very well in this game, but Johnny Johnson III did what he could to have an impact. The only WR with a touchdown, JJ3 finished the game with three catches for 76 yards, adding 25 YAC on the day. No other receiver had more than 40 yards on the day. Coming into the super-senior season, Johnson is being pressured to up his draft stock before he tries to make it in the NFL. If the first week is any indication, he should be able to do that over the rest of the season.

Stock Down: Offensive Line

(Photo by Zachary Neel)

All throughout fall camp, the Oregon coaching staff was boastful about the fact that they felt they had 8-10 guys who could rotate in on the offensive line and play when needed. That turned out to be sort of an issue on Saturday, with the Ducks trying new front-five combinations well into the fourth quarter when they were trailing. You know the old saying that if you have two viable quarterbacks, you may not have one? The same thing can be said about Oregon's O-line after the first game of the season. There are some solid players up there, but until they actually find the right spot on the field, it may be tough to have much confidence them as a whole. The Ducks only ran for 186 yards on the day, most of which came in the second half. Anthony Brown was also sacked three times on the day. It's not time to even think about the panic button just yet, but we'd like to see more from this group going forward.

Stock Up: Tim DeRuyter

(Photo by Zachary Neel)

In his first game as the Oregon defensive coordinator, Tim DeRuyter didn't disappoint against his old team. The Ducks defense was impressive early on, forcing a punt, back-to-back fumbles, and another punt of Fresno State's first four drives of the game. While the secondary got picked apart a little bit throughout the second quarter, Oregon's run defense was stout, allowing -8 yards rushing in the first half and only 75 yards on the ground as a whole. The second-half adjustments were impressive as well, with QB Jake Haener held to under 100 yards passing in the final two quarters after an impressive first half. The defense is likely going to lead this Oregon team throughout the season, and they seem to have the right guy leading them. We can feel confident about that.

Stock Down: Mario Cristobal

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Fans who are calling for Mario Cristobal's job after a closer than expected game in Week 1 need to chill. However, fans who are a bit frustrated with the performance are somewhat justified. Once again, it seemed that the Ducks played down to their competition a bit, failing to blow out a team that they should have beat comfortably. The offense lacked creativity, and the O-line, whom Cristobal spends most of his time with, looked uninspiring for the most part. There is no better recruiter in Oregon history than Cristobal, but after a 2020 season left some questions about his game-management and actual coaching acumen, Saturday did little to calm them. Next week against Ohio State is going to put a magnifying glass on Cristobal as a whole, and if he can't keep Oregon competitive at the very least, it's going to be a tough look for a coach who has struggled to win the big games over the years.

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