Washington had something to smile about.
Oregon did what they had to do in order to beat Nevada, 31-23 at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. The Wolf Pack turned out to be more of a challenge than the Duck faithful of 56,471 would like to see, but Samie Parker caught seven balls for 162 yards and two touchdowns to lighten up an otherwise lackluster performance by the Ducks. Consistency and execution seem to be what Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti will focus on next week in practice. Bellotti expected more from his team on Saturday.
“Overall, I don’t think we improved as much as I would have liked,” Bellotti said after the game.
The first quarter started off similarly to last week when the Ducks easily jumped out to a comfortable lead behind a field goal by Jared Siegel and an 11-yard touchdown reception by Demetrius Williams from Kellen Clemens. Although the Ducks did not put up 28 points in the first quarter as they did last week, they were clearly in control of the contest. In the second quarter, Jason Fife came in and found Parker for a 43-yard hook-up that resulted in a touchdown and later in the quarter Clemens returned to hit Parker for a 39-yard score. Consistency in running the offense though sputtered and no one seemed to have a clear answer why.
“We had too many situations where we were second and ten,” Bellotti pointed out.
Clemens ended the day going 10-for-24, 154 yards and two touchdowns. Fife only put the ball up four times but one of his three completions was for a touchdown. Clemens was not satisfied with the team’s performance.
“As Nevada got some points on the board, their intensity picked up and we just didn’t match it,”
Parker though, had a sensational game. Not only did he have two touchdown receptions, but he also had 50 yards in rushing on a reverse. Parker moved up to sixth in career receiving today. His total now of 1,963 yards, passing Bob Newland (1,941/1968-70.) This was Parker’s second consecutive 100 yard plus receiving game and the first time in his career he has had back-to-back 100-yard games.
“Obviously we’re trying to find ways to get him (Parker) the football,” deadpanned Bellotti.
Another bright spot for the Ducks was junior running back Kenny Washington. Seemingly, Washington had been relegated to the bench, but against Nevada, Washington showed he has something to offer. Washington ended up as the leading rusher for the Ducks with 57 yards on nine carries with the longest run of 22 yards.
“I’m a junior and I’ve been here for a while,” said Washington. “I saw some opportunities to establish myself.”
Washington was able to burn up the clock in the fourth quarter and his head coach noticed his efforts.
“He ran hard, he did a great job,” noted Bellotti. “It is nice for him to get that experience, for him to prove he is the same caliber as the other guys.”
Defensively, the Ducks seem to own the Nevada offensive line and managed to sack or rush starting quarterback Jeff Rowe. The Wolf Pack made an adjustment and brought in Andy Heiser who seemed to change the flow of the game for the Wolfpack. Rowe ended the contest completing just three-of-10 for 31 yards and one interception by Steven Moore. Rowe was sacked four times. Heiser however, was 14-for-32 for 213 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and no sacks. Ironically, Heiser’s one pick was a costly one as the ball was tipped by Chris Solomona and intercepted by Keith Lewis, who walked into the end zone for a touchdown. While at times the defense worked to stay consistent, the front line of Solomona, Devan Long, Igor Olshansky, Robby Valenzuela and Junior Siavii showed improvement and promise particularly rushing the passer.
“If any of us are open, one-on-one, man-to-man, they are going to be in trouble,” observed Siavii.
Siavii had five total tackles, one for loss and a quarterback hurry. Solomona had four tackles, a sack and a quarterback hurry. Valenzuela had five tackles and Olshansky had three. Two of Long’s three tackles were sacks.
Oregon was called for nine penalties for 95 yards, and there wasn’t much argument for the Oregon headman about the calls. Bellotti indicated he would review the tapes but thought the game was well called. One not-so-hot fact about the game is that the 23 points were the most Nevada has ever scored since 1996 when the Ducks won at Autzen 44-30.
In some ways the Ducks did show improvement and for what it is worth, Bellotti thought the Nevada defense was much better than Mississippi State’s. Will that be enough for the Ducks to carry through the next two games at Arizona and at home against Michigan? Time will tell on that, and certainly the consistency of effort must be there if the Ducks expect to see more success as the season progresses.