Eugene, OR – In Mario Cristobal’s first game as the University of Oregon head coach, the Ducks extended their home opening win streak to 14 after defeating the Bowling Green Falcons 58-24.
Despite what the final score might lead some to believe, Bowling Green controlled the game early and threatened Oregon at many times throughout the contest. Oregon struggled to find any rhythm offensively, and Bowling Green’s sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege did not hesitate to take advantage of their first game jitters, leading the Falcons to a 10-0 lead in under ten minutes of play.
It did not take long however, for Oregon’s Heisman hopeful quarterback, Justin Herbert,to get things back on track. Herbert quickly posted 186 yards and 4 touchdowns, putting the Ducks on top 37-17 to end the first half.
Herbert continued to impress throughout the remainder of the game, finishing his day with 322 all-purpose yards and 6 touchdowns, setting a school record for most touchdowns in a season opener by a Duck quarterback.
The biggest concerns for Oregon this year really are no different than last. Defensive Coordinator Jim Levitt’s 3-5 defense continues to underwhelm, allowing big plays from small opponents, and their offense struggles to move the ball without Justin Herbert.
In an attempt to rest Herbert, who missed five games in 2017 with a broken collar bone, Cristobal gave the reigns to backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister halfway through the third quarter. Head Coach Mario Cristobal stated, “we thought that it was a good idea to get Braxton in when the game still was a game, when playing time mattered”.
Despite Cristobal and staff’s efforts to get someone other than Herbert to produce, Burmeister failed to earn even a first down. After a quick score for the Falcons Herbert was sent right back onto the field where he threw one more touchdown.
When asked about the short leash on Burmeister, Cristobal stated “When we didn’t move the ball and they scored… it just triggered a hey we need to get back on track…[we] did not want the game to go the other way”.
Oregon will need to find new ways to score if they want to compete for a Pac-12 Championship this year, as Justin Herbert can’t bear the weight of their in-conference schedule on his own.
The Ducks continue their non-conference play next Saturday, September 8th, at home against Portland State University.