Aliotti: on Rain and Not Being Great Yet
EUGENE – The most impressive aspect of of No. 2 Oregon’s expected blowout of California Saturday night at Autzen Stadium was that the Ducks made the 55-16 win look relatively easy in the most miserable of conditions.
Win gusts of up to 34 miles per hour blasted Rich Brooks Field, seemingly from all angles. Rain fell sideways, swirling and saturating players.
“It was like a never-ending cold shower,” Oregon linebacker Boseko Lokombo said.
But the elements appeared to only have a limited impact on Oregon's play.
Sure, there were some bobbled balls and a couple of fumbles, but given the misery the weather caused Cal (five turnovers) one would have thought that Oregon had spent the week practicing with wind and rain machines in the Moshofsky Center.
Not the case.
Instead, the Ducks relied on their usual brand of intense preparation and attention to detail to battle through vicious elements for a win to open Pac-12 play.
“It’s tough,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “That’s a slippery deal to begin with… There’s no magic formula for dealing with that kind of situation.”
A handbook of what not to do was published by Cal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) in the first quarter. The Golden Bears, who entered the game with the No. 2-ranked passing game in the country (438.7 yards per game) insisted on lining up in four and five-receiver sets and throwing the ball.
The result: Freshman quarterback Jared Goff completed 3 of 6 passes for 11 yards, fumbled twice and was sacked twice before being removed from the game.
The five turnovers, all in the first quarter, helped UO score on short drives and jump out to a 27-0 lead.
Helfrich said he wasn’t surprised by Cal’s strategy.
“You try to do what you do, so to speak, within the realm of conditions,” he said. “Those were some odd conditions.”
Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) had to work a little for those scores, however. The elements proved daunting to a point. Running back Byron Marshall fumbled twice in the game but rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns after Thomas left the game with an ankle injury.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota had his issues here and there but still managed to throw for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Mariota said. “Like I was saying earlier, it’s not an excuse. You have to play no matter how the weather is.”
On defense, Oregon pressed Cal’s receivers and dared the Golden Bears to throw deep.
Oregon had six tackles for loss, including two sacks.
Still, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti wasn’t entirely happy because there were some alignment issues and penalties that prevented the Ducks from playing the perfect game.
“If we don’t get a pass interference and score on that interception that would have been closer to great,” Aliotti said.
Such is life so far this season for the Ducks. The “bad” spots have come down to dropped passes, penalties, and a few miscues.
The bottom line is that Oregon is undefeated with a record four consecutive games of scoring 50 points or more against four opponents and Mother Nature on a bad night.