Crying fowl: Ducks mounting penalties
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The trash talking began early on in Oregon’ 59-10 win at Virginia on Saturday.
According to Oregon players, the Cavaliers seemingly had a lot on their minds and no reservations about expressing themselves during the first half of the No. 2 Ducks’ 59-10 victory at Scott Stadium.
By the second half: not so much.
"Teams always talk in the first half," Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas said. "But as the game go by it slows down a little bit. You can tell by their body language that they're defeated."
The problem for Oregon is that it got sucked into the war of words on the field and that contributed to a dismal day for the Ducks in one category: penalties.
Oregon was flagged 11 times for 119 yards. Six penalties came in the first half for 80 yards with five going for 15 each. Even the usually mild-mannered Thomas earned one of those.
UO coach Mark Helfrich addressed the team about its lack of discipline following the game and let them know that their performance in that area was unacceptable.
“It’s huge,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “We’ve got to clean those things up. Helfrich came into locker room after the game. He wanted to make a point to the team that those things can’t happen.”
Helfrich said each player who committed a 15-yard penalty apologized after they happened.
There were a lot of apologies: Personal foul on offensive lineman Jake Fisher. Illegal use of hands on offensive lineman Everett Benyard. Roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli. Personal foul on Thomas.
What it all comes down to, according to Oregon offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone, is that the Ducks can’t get caught up in the war of words and allow that dictate how they perform.
“That’s the main thing we’re going to take away from the game,” he said. “We were undisciplined…We were just talking a little too much. The second guy always gets caught. They’re pretty talkative team when it comes to trash, doing a few things that were kind of frustrating early on. We just fed into it. We can’t let that happen anymore. I don’t think you’ll see it again from us this season.”
Thomas’ penalty came after Virginia defensive lineman Jake Snyder was flagged for shoving him in the facemask following a 17-yard gain in the second quarter.
Thomas responded by vigorously clapping his hands in appreciation of the flag on Snyder while slightly walking toward him.
One would assume Thomas also said something to Snyder that he shouldn’t have in order to warrant the penalty. But Thomas said he didn’t say anything.
“I was shocked,” Thomas said. “I was just wondering in my head why did I get a penalty? But they made a decision to give me a penalty. I’ve just got to learn from it.”
The lesson here is that Thomas should have simply walked away to begin with.
It’s a lesson the Ducks should take to heart because if word gets out that Oregon can be easily rattled by trash talk other teams will take advantage.
Helfrich said he wants his team to play with passion and desire but those attributes must be administered with discipline.
“That will be fixed,” Helfrich said.