Headed into Saturday's contest, Portland State was ranked 8th nationally in the 1-AA polls and the Vikings demonstrated that they had come ready to play the Ducks. If anyone expected a blowout from the opening kickoff, they were surprised to see a 17-0 lead by Oregon at halftime. The Ducks had scored in the first quarter on a 32-yard field goal by sophomore place kicker Jared Siegel and on a spectacular 31-yard catch and score by junior wide receiver Samie Parker. Oregon's other score came off junior tailback Onterrio Smith's longest run from the line of scrimmage this season, a 25-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Smith ended the contest with 115 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Smith has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the four games this season.
Oregon was aided by great field position for much of the game. Senior punter Jose Arroyo had a good day putting the Vikings into long field positions. Three of his four punts were inside the Viking 20-yard line, with one punt ending up on the Viking one-yard line.
"Jose Arroyo continues to punt the ball very well to create field opportunity of position," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti.
Oregon's defense accomplished one goal they set for every game - keeping the opponent from scoring. The Duck defenders put the clamps on PSU, sensing a shutout. PSU's only serious scoring threat came in penalty laden third quarter when PSU kicker Mike Cajal-Willis' field goal attempt was blocked by Oregon's junior linebacker Kevin Mitchell.
"I swear I don't know how it happened," claimed Mitchell of the blocked field goal. "I pushed Haloti (Ngata) into the line and pushed off his lower back and I got my left hand up, and it hit my hand."
The Ducks scored 10 and 14 points respectively in the third and fourth quarters. Smith scored his second touchdown on a three-yard run. Siegel recorded his career longest field goal with a 52-yard kick. Bellotti was pleased with Siegel's performance. It isn't likely Bellotti would have had the confidence in Siegel's ability to kick beyond 50 yards last season, but this year things have changed.
"No. Absolutely not," responded Bellotti to a question about whether he would have sent Siegel out to kick a 52-yard field goal attempt a year ago. "I would have tried that (the 52-yard attempt on Saturday) from two or three more yards."
Siegel also was pleased with the kick and his confidence was boosted by his success. Siegel believes he can kick farther and that Bellotti will trust in his kicking abilities.
"With every kick and opportunity I capitalize on and demonstrate where I'm capable of connecting, then I think he (Bellotti) would feel comfortable sending me out (for) 55-56 yards," said Siegel.
The Ducks finished up the fourth quarter with two touchdowns via passing. Junior quarterback Jason Fife hooked up with junior tight end George Wrighster for a four-yard pass and score. Later in the quarter redshirt freshman Kellen Clemens chalked up his first touchdown pass as a Duck with an eight-yard pass to freshman tight end Nate LiaBraaten.
"My first touchdown pass as an Oregon Duck," beamed Clemens. "It felt really good."
Clemens finished the afternoon throwing 4-of-4, 40 yards, one touchdown, with a long of 14 yards. Fife finished the day throwing 13-for-20, 179 yards and two touchdowns. Fife's longest completion was for 32 yards. Fife was more reserved after the game about his performance. Despite decent statistics, Fife was not particularly happy with his performance.
"At times drives kind of go sour," said Fife. "Part of that is on me, I'm not keeping the guys up. I'm not keeping the drives alive."
Fife was probably too hard on himself. Fife's head coach was quick to point out that as his junior quarterback continues to become more accustomed to the job of quarterback for the Oregon Ducks his performance will improve.
"Jason is getting more comfortable," said Bellotti. "As the comfort zone grows the execution and improved performance will grow too."
Fife also rushed for 19 yards on six carries. Fife's ability to escape on rushing defenders is an added plus to the Oregon arsenal.
"One of Jason's strength is his scrambling ability," Bellotti observed. "Jason can hurt them (opposing teams) in a scramble mode."
The bye week will offer Oregon an opportunity to heal up from some injuries. Saturday's game resulted in two injuries, one to senior defensive lineman Ed Wangler who suffered a sprained shoulder and may be questionable for the Arizona game. Senior defensive end Darrell Wright also had some rib injuries but he likely will be available for the Arizona game.
Consistency in the offense is one of the points Bellotti intends to work on during the bye week. While the Ducks have been known as a quick strike team, Bellotti wants his team to be more consistent in the offensive production to keep drives alive. The Ducks stalled out on four drives Saturday but still were six of 12 in third down conversions.
"We have been a big play, big strike team," said Bellotti. We don't want to eliminate that aspect we just want to improve our consistency.
The penalty bug again struck the Ducks against the Vikings. Oregon was called for 12 penalties resulting in 73 lost yards. PSU had 13 penalties for 86 yards.
"I'm not pleased with the penalties," remarked Bellotti. "I don't think we played real smart at times."
One penalty that seemed to draw moans from the Duck faithful was an off sides penalty against Oregon on a kickoff. Bellotti promised to work on the problem but drew laughs in the pressroom with his response to a question about the off sides call.
"We kickoff a lot," quipped Bellotti.
Bellotti went on to say that while it is important to work on the consistency of play it is equally important not to hinder his team's aggressive style, particularly on a kickoff.
"We try to generate as much momentum getting down the field and step on that line or cross it as the ball is being kicked," said Bellotti. "I don't want to minimize or eliminate their (the team) aggressiveness."
Oregon's Pac-10 schedule starts off with Arizona and the Ducks will not return to Autzen Stadium until October 19th. Mitchell, who had three solo tackles, four assisted tackles, including two tackles for loss plus the blocked field goal summed what the bye week may or may not do for the Ducks.
"The bye (week) can be a good thing or a bad thing," said Mitchell. "We can go out, get healthy and work on some of the thing we need to fix. Or we could go out and not really do a whole lot and try to go into the Pac-10. If we do it that way we then we will be very unhappy people."
With the win Oregon improved to 4-0 for the season while Portland State dropped to 2-1.
Oregon will need a consistent offense that is error free when it enters the Pac-10 race. The defending champion will have mend and elevate its play to the same levels it had in the previous two years to keep themselves and their fans happy. The first test will be in two weeks.