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Inside the highlight tape: how the Ducks bounce back

When expectations are as high as they are for the Oregon Ducks, it takes resilience to be a player or a fan, and Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup and Youtube channel madmike1951 is one of the best of the latter.

Yesterday, right on schedule, he posted the Duck highlights for the 26-20 loss to Stanford.

Clutch expert: Bralon Addison, productive receiving, returning and blocking Thursday, continues to be a highlight for the Oregon Ducks. Here he shows a textbook example of securing the ball in traffic after as Stanford linebacker Shane Skov tries to rip it out (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America).

While the temptation to burn the tape is great, a last look at it can reveal some important things the Ducks and their fans can take forward with plenty of football still to be played.



The opening kickoff was an immediate concern. The Ducks haven’t had much energy or threat in their kickoff return game this year, and this one was another they didn’t seem to get much going. Four Cardinal players get penetration on the Oregon wedge. Josh Huff really doesn’t have a lane and can’t make much of a cutback, and the Ducks start at the 17. Stanford won field position all night, and even when Oregon enjoyed good starting position, they were denied by a determined defense.

14:51, Second and 10, Oregon 17

Marcus Mariota pass to Josh Huff, 10 yards for a first down. This is a well-executed play that gets the ball out quickly and gets a quarterback in rhythm. The line blocking is solid. Mariota swings it out to Huff, who gets good blocks from Lowe and Hawkins on the perimeter. The first down is a great start for the offense, building rhythm and tempo in a big game, what Oregon needs to do in a big game.

13:59 1st quarter Oregon 3rd and 9, Oregon  28

Mariota pass to De’Anthony Thomas, 20 yards for a first down. The Ducks get a big play in their first crucial situation, an obvious passing down. The offensive line gives Mariota good protection early, can’t find anyone open, flushes right, looking for a receiver. MM breaks contain but he doesn’t have his customary burst on this night, not looking to run at all.  DAT does a good job of breaking open, running with his quarterback downfield and giving him a target. When the quarterback scrambles, it’s vital that receivers break with him, working back to the ball or breaking deep, but getting in synch with him. There’s an unspoken communication that’s built through hours of practice.

DAT dives low and helps his quarterback with a great grab. Mariota doesn’t get much on the throw: he’s not planting comfortably on the injured knee, his left knee, the one a right-handed quarterback normally uses to get his body and legs into a throw. But Thomas makes an athletic play for a big gain.

13:24 Oregon ball at the 50 2nd and 8

Mariota 7 pass to Bralon Addison. It’s a quick slant Mariota delivers before the free backside rusher can get to him. De’Anthony clears out the linebacker with a flat route, and Addison settles into the open area. He appeared to fall forward for the first down, but the Ducks don’t get a good spot on this play. Still, it’s well-executed, and the mix of plays Oregon has to this point is perfect for beating a stingy, hard-hitting defense. 

4th and 6, Stanford kicking from their own end zone

The Ducks force their only three and out of the game on  Stanford’s first possession, limiting two Gaffney runs to short gains and getting great coverage from Terrance Mitchell on a third down pass. The punt is low and returnable, and Addison, who has been Mr. Reliable both handling and returning punts, sees readily that he has a opportunity on this one. He speeds past the first two defenders, picks up two good blocks on the edge and then gets tangled up by the punter. The 25-yard return sets up the Ducks at the Stanford 28 with the game’s first scoring threat.

9:59, Oregon 3rd and 8 from the Stanford 26

Mariota pass, 19 yards to Keanon Lowe. Mariota has to buy time. He steps around a blitz, uses Jake Fisher as a shield as he eludes the defensive end, passes up another opportunity to run. Directing traffic and scanning the field, he flutters a dangerous cross-the-field pass to Keanon Lowe, who’s gained a step on his man over the middle. Mariota leads him perfectly and Lowe clutches it to his chest at the 7, first and goal.

In the first five minutes of the game, the Ducks had made all the plays in the game. They didn’t finish drives, and Stanford rose up with authority and aggression in key situations.

11:26 2nd quarter Stanford 14-0, kickoff

Another kickoff where the Ducks don’t get much going. Plenty of lackluster blocks, and Huff doesn’t find a lane. If The Black Momba is healthy, this is a spot where he might be able to provide the team some much needed momentum. In the fourth quarter Thomas broke a return 35 yards out to the Oregon 40, setting up their first touchdown drive.

11:19 2nd quarter, Oregon ball Oregon 18

Byron Marshall 21-yard run. Marshall shows good balance, keeping his feet after an ankle tackle at the point of attack. He gets a good seal block by Fisher, and Pharaoh Brown handles the contain man, creating a nice running lane. Cameron Hunt (#77) shows good mobility, chipping a linebacker at the second level and keeping him from pursuing the play.

This was Oregon’s best run of the night. They did some good things in this game; they didn’t do enough of them, and they waited too long to reach the level of urgency they showed in the fourth quarter.

10:40 2nd quarter Oregon 2nd and 10 own 39

Mariota 15-yard pass to De’Anthony Thomas. Another little swing route. Thomas goes in motion from the slot, one of the most effective ways to use him. He gets good blocks on the edge from Daryle Hawkins, who also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the game, and another receiver whose number is not visible in the frame. An effective play the Ducks ran twice in the first half for first downs.

10:26 2nd 1st and 10 Oregon Stanford 46

Mariota pass complete to Bralon Addison for 16 yards

Stanford runs a stunt in a five-man rush, but Hroniss Grasu and the Oregon offensive line have everyone picked up. Tyler Johnstone keeps the blindside defender bottled up on the line of scrimmage. Mariota has time to set and throw, an 8-yard out route to  Addison on the left sideline. Addison has driven his defender deep, selling an up route, and he has room to make a move. The shifty Texan is so good at making the first defender miss; here he gets 8 yards after the catch with a nifty inside cut that completely breaks the cornerback down. Bralon did the same thing to Jordan Zumwalt last week on a catch over the middle. It’s never a mistake to get him the ball. Addison makes things happen.

10:11 2nd quarter, 2nd and 10

Stretch run left by Marshall, four yards. The Ducks have blockers at the point of attack with a chance to break a bigger play, getting outside on The Cardinal with speed. No one gets a clean block. Marshall does a good job of getting what was available on the play, a positive gain in the running game on a night the Ducks didn’t sustain anything running the football.

9:19 2nd 4th and 9 Stanford 29

Clutch! Mariota complete to Addison for 18 yards, down to Stanford 11.

On a play when the whole stadium knows the Ducks have to pass, the line holds and provides solid protection. Mariota sells the quick screen with a shoulder fake, then zips a pass to Addison in the seam, which Bralon catches between two defenders, protecting the ball and his body in traffic.

Good blocking technique by Fisher, who drives his man high and wide and completely out of the play. Cameron Hunt and Johnstone combine on a nice double team on the left side as well. Grasu has a bit of trouble with a bullrush from the nose tackle but keeps battling, and Mariota does a good job of standing in and concentrating on delivering the football.