Secondary knew Halliday would get his
EUGENE – Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti wasn’t too displeased with his defense’s performance during a 62-38 win over Washington State Saturday night that saw the Cougars pass for 557 yards on an NCAA record 89 attempts by quarterback Connor Halliday.
But he was unhappy with how some of those yards were gained at the end of the game against UO’s scout team defenders.
One touchdown was scored by WSU’s defense off a fumble by quarterback Marcus Mariota. Another was set up by a Mariota fumble.
WSU, trailing 62-24 late in the fourth quarter, threw two touchdown passes in the final four minutes to make the score look less lopsided, upsetting Aliotti.
“I'm kind of stunned by the fact that he would keep his starting quarterback and crew in there and still be throwing the ball with 20 seconds left,” Aliotti said of WSU coach Mike Leach. “But he did. They want stats. They got stats. But we got the most important stat and that’s the ‘W.’”
He went on to say he thought it was low class and "Bull----" and to make sure Leach knows it. But hey, Leach is about throwing and that's what the Cougars do. They rack up stats.
Ahh, those stats. There were plenty on Saturday.
Halliday completed 55 of 89 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions.
The completions were a Pac-12 record and stadium record.
It might have been one of the most ineffective 500-yard performances in football history. WSU threw mostly short passes, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt and generated just one touchdown drive not either aided by an Oregon turnover or coming in the last four minutes against scout team defenders.
For these reasons, Aliotti wasn’t all too concerned about how his defense performed despite the gaudy numbers allowed.
“The secondary actually did a pretty good job,” Aliotti said.
They certainly got a workout.
“It was kind of frustrating chasing those little, short routes around,” UO cornerback Terrance Mitchell said. ”But at the end of the day, we’re going to learn from it and see what we’ve got to do to fix it.”
Oregon allowed 302 yards passing in the first half before stuffing WSU in the third quarter and for most of the fourth.
“I was extremely pleased with the way we came out in the third quarter,” Aliotti said.
The Ducks might have given up short passes but they didn’t allow much downfield. That forced the Cougars, who rushed for two yards on 12 carries, to complete numerous passes on one drive in order to score.
“You have to make them drive the ball,” Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said. “Make them drive all the way downfield. We were able to create turnovers.”
Oregon sacked Halliday four times, twice by defensive end Tony Washington, and intercepted him for times, all in the second half.
One came from Mitchell in the fourth quarter. He returned it 51-yards for a touchdown to make the score 62-24 with 13:01 remaining in the game.
Mitchell made sure to stare at its sideline and offer a few choice words.
“I had to let them feel it a little bit because they were heckling me on the sideline,” Mitchell said.
Still, there were lessons to be had. Mitchell said the Ducks should have done a better job of jamming receivers, taking away the middle of the field and tackling after the catch.
Ekpre-Olomu said WSU had a good scheme that challenged the Ducks.
“They ran a lot of pick routes,” he said. “More than I’ve ever seen.”
Given the lack of point production that mattered, all-in-all, the Ducks weren’t too upset by Halliday’s volume of yards.
“We did a good job in open space playing our guys one-on-one,” Ekpre-Olomu said.