Ducks bounce back from early turnovers
October, 20, 2013
By Craig Murphy | ESPN.com
EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon offense started to sputter in the second quarter Saturday against Washington State.
Oh sure, the Ducks entered halftime up 34-24, with 483 yards of offense already.
But Oregon was up 27-7 early in the second quarter.
More troubling, the Ducks fumbled the ball away three times in the quarter. At one point, that allowed the Cougars -- who entered as 40-point underdogs -- to close within 27-21.
"We needed to take care of the football better in the first half, though we got a lot of yards," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "We got off to a sluggish start, but we responded well in the second half. I was happy with our response in the second half."
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota fumbled twice in the second quarter after being sacked, with one of those being returned for a WSU touchdown.
"Our culture has been one play at a time," Mariota said. "You have to focus on the next one. I was nonchalant with (the ball) a couple of times there. But we knew if we take care of what we need to do, we will be successful."
Byron Marshall rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns, with 108 of those yards coming in the second half. After a 35-yard reception on a fourth-down play in the second quarter, Marshall coughed up the ball.
"You have to stay on it," Marshall said. "You have to pick it up. Three fumbles is unacceptable. You don't turn the ball over."
Helfrich noted the turnovers were team fumbles.
"You can learn from everything," the first-year head coach said. "When you turn the ball over, it is multiple people's responsibility, starting with us as coaches."
Though the Ducks led the Cougs at half by less than a touchdown for the second year in a row, just like last season, Oregon pulled away in the third quarter. Two touchdowns in this third quarter pushed the lead to 48-24, with the final score 62-38.
"Aside from that fumble, I felt I had a solid game," said Marshall, who became the main running back for Oregon after De'Anthony Thomas was injured on the opening kickoff against California on Sept. 28. "It was a really good game. I played hard. That was the best game I've ever had."
As a team, the Ducks rushed for 383 yards and had 336 yards passing, for 719 yards total. In addition to Marshall, Thomas Tyner rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
"Guys like Byron and Thomas have really stepped up and carried the load," said Mariota, who rushed for 96 yards himself. "You can't replace someone like De'Anthony, but they have helped fill the void. They've done a great job for us."