Washington State put 33 points on the board against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday night, but that alone is no indication of how the defense played.
After taking a look at the offense, we now turn our attention to the defensive and special teams units.
Defense - B
(33 points against, 20 first downs against, 11-13 third down defense, 2 takeaways)
Overall Oregon’s play has been up and down at times this year. Particularly with injuries, units get degraded like has happened at QB.
But the defense has been able to absorb its injuries a little better. They have been fairly solid all year long, and seemingly getting slowly better. This game was no exception, despite the result.
The defense had to defend 16 drives against WSU. They forced 7 punts, ended 2 with takeaways, 4 by field goals and 3 touchdowns. Two of the three Cougar TD’s were of the one-play drive variety, the initial 41-yard strike and then the 25-yarder after the first Burmeister INT. Of the four WSU red zone chances, they held the Cougars to field goals on three of them.
DL - B+
(Jelks 5 tackles, sack, 1.5 tfl, pbu, Mondeaux 4 tackles, sack, qbh, Scott 2 tackles, sack)
Very good performance by these three. Once again Jelks, Mondeaux and Scott were disruptive forces. This is a stout and productive trio who seem to be maintaining a high level of play.
Scott Pagano, Hunter Kampmoyer, Gary Baker, Drayton Carlberg and Austin Faoliu all participated but did not add to the DL statistics. The Ducks will need more productive snaps out of these guys for the Ducks to take this unit to the next level. And Malik Young, where are you at?
LB - B
(Dye 11 tackles, ff, qbh, Winston Jr. 3 tackles, Moi 3 tackles, sack, Swain 2 tackles, qbh, Hollins 2 tackles, Leiato 2 tackles, 0.5 tfl)
Troy Dye. Seems like every time I write up the linebacker grades it starts with Troy Dye’s line. That is because he is currently fourth in the Pac-12 in total tackles with 8.7 per game, and against WSU he exceeded even that. Lamar Winston and Jonah Moi made some noticeable plays, but more production is needed from more people.
This group did not clog the middle of the passing lanes as much as needed.
Freshman Sampson Niu left his redshirt year and entered he action for the Ducks due to the absence of A.J. Hotchkins.
DB - B
(Graham Jr. 6 tackles, pbu, McGraw 5 tackles, Robinson 3 tackles, fr, pbu, Springs 2 tackles, tfl, Breeze 2 tackles, Lenoir tackle, Amadi 2 pbu)
Mistakes were made. There is no doubt about that. Both one-play WSU TD drives were one-play mental breakdowns, one immediately after the first failed fourth down try, the second after an INT. So, they need to do a better job of getting their heads in the game quicker after transitions.
But by and large they held they WSU passing game, a very good one, under control. Falk only threw for 283 yards, and that with the Cougars not running the ball effectively. Thomas Graham is playing well, Arrion Springs is finding his stride, Ugo is becoming the guy everybody throws away from.
The safeties are an improved lot with Tyree Robinson, Mattrell McGraw and Billy Gibson playing well as Nick Pickett was out due to injury.
Special Teams B
KO - B+
(43.3 net, 2/3 TBs)
Schneider and the coverage crew did a good job against WSU. Too bad they weren’t used more.
KOR - B
Tony Brooks-James and Kani Benoit did a good job along with their blockers. The real big drag on their average was the lackluster return of Hunter Kampmoyer (j/k Hunter).
Punt - B-
(34.6 net, 2/7 inside 20, 4/7 fair catch)
Decent job by Adam Stack with WSU only able to return one of his punts, with two going out of bounds.
Punt return - N/A
(28.9 net against, no returns)
No punt returns for the Ducks but WSU’s punt game was deplorable.
Kicking - A-
(FG 1-1, PAT 1-1)
Normally Schneider and his mates would get an A for this but I am going to ding them. Outraged? Sorry, but it is because Taggart did not have enough confidence in this group to go for a 51-yarder in the second quarter down 13-10. For the second time that game, the Ducks failed to gain a yard on fourth and turned it over on downs. This was right after WSU kicker Erik Powell hit a 52-yarder on the other end. So probably not fair, but I’m dinging kicking a third of a grade.