BOULDER, Colo - Oregon Ducks cornerback Terrance Mitchell admitted he underestimated Colorado star wide receiver Paul Richardson just a tad.
“He was a little better than I expected, honestly,” Mitchell said.
UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti had a hunch Colorado would go deep to Richardson early.
“I wish I would have relayed that down because in my gut, I just had a gut feeling that’s exactly what they were going to do,” Aliotti said. “They did it."
Each learned a lesson early when Richardson hauled in a 55-yard reception on the opening drive to set up a field goal. He finished the day as Colorado’s prime impact player, catching five passes for 134 yards and throwing for a 75-yard touchdown on a reverse pass to D.D. Goodson.
“He did his thing,” Mitchell said of Richardson. “He did his thing. I can’t really say much. I can’t knock him. He did good. We got the W though”
That’s because other than on Richardson’s big plays, Oregon’s defense was dominant Saturday. So much so that Aliotti, displeased after several blowout victories this season, left Boulder quite happy with his unit’s performance.
“When it’s all said and done if we can hold people to under 20 points, which we’ve done for five weeks in a row now, that’s hard to do in today’s football game, I’ll take the way it ended,” Aliotti said.
Colorado gained 374 yards of total offense against Oregon but 130 came on the two big plays involving Richardson.
On the Buffaloes other 68 plays they managed just 244 yards. Included were 94 yards rushing on 36 carries and 11 of 34 passing by quarterback Connor Wood.
The most impressive number of the day, though, was the zero third-down conversions allowed on 15 tries.
“We did settle down and played really well in the second half and really well on third down and really well in the red zone,” Aliotti.
Colorado saw four red zone trips net just three field goals. The first field goal, along with the long touchdown pass, gave Colorado a 10-8 lead in the first quarter. Then the Ducks got serious. .
“At that point we were able to get off the field on third downs,” Oregon corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said. “That just changed the game.”
Helping change things were Mitchell’s two interceptions in the first half. Both set up Oregon touchdowns. One came against an attempted wide receiver screen out of a bunch formation.
“I really was pleased with the bunch-set pick because we practice that play all week,”Aliotti said.
Mitchell’s interceptions more than made up for the deep pass he allowed. But not the eyes of Mitchell.
“To be honest, me as a competitor, I would rather have zero completions than the picks,” he said. “But the picks are important. I would have rather held him to zero catches.”
That would have been quite the accomplishment. Moving forward, however, having given up big plays to Richardson reminded Oregon’s defensive backs that as good as it is, it can get beaten.
“That’s going to have us ready,” Mitchell said. “Other teams might try us more now. We might have more opportunities. We just have to be ready at all times.”