Oregon's 'Blur' more like a blink

Wildcats' defense can't catch up to Ducks' fast pace
2011-09-25T00:01:00Z 2014-07-08T16:19:16Z Oregon's 'Blur' more like a blinkPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 25, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Most teams have a 2-minute drill, a hurry-up play-calling system with blistering pace, reserved for moving the ball at the end of the game.

Oregon lives the 2-minute drill.

Even for a team known for its lightning-quick pace, Saturday night's performance at Arizona Stadium was remarkable.

The Ducks dominated the Arizona Wildcats in a 56-31 victory, led by LaMichael James' otherworldy 288 rushing yards on 23 carries.

The junior set a school record, surpassing Onterrio Smith's 285 yards against Washington State in 2001, and made throwing the ball almost unnecessary.

"We're starting to find our rhythm," coach Chip Kelly said. "When our running backs run like that ... it really makes us a tough team to defend."

The 2011 national championship runner-up shredded the Wildcats' defense like few to ever play behind the façade of Navajo-Pinal Hall.

The Ducks scored eight touchdowns.

Seven took less than 3 minutes.

The one that didn't?

The final drive, dragged out to milk the clock to under 2 minutes, which ended with a 2-yard Darron Thomas touchdown run.

Drive-through carwashes take more time than Oregon's scoring drives.

Of course, praising the Ducks' pacing is nothing new to the Wildcats - or any of Oregon's opponents, really - since Chip Kelly came from New Hampshire to run the offense. The Ducks have scored 203 points against the UA over the past four years.

If there is a secret to Ducks' pacing, it's the speed with which they snap the football.

It prevents defenses from substituting appropriate people and catching their breath.

But the UA defense seemed outmatched Saturday, even before fatigue set in.

How outmatched?

Oregon took a 7-0 lead on its second-longest scoring march of the night, running eight plays for 80 yards in 2:42.

A 14-0 lead emerged after 2:19, when the Ducks ran 10 plays for 72 yards.

The strong start was crucial.

"You have to (start fast)," James said. "When you're on the road playing at a place like Arizona, it's a hostile environment.

"Before, the crowd was really into the game. It was really tough at first. They were loud. … It's really tough.

"You have to take them out of the game early."

It got more ridiculous, seemingly, by the drive.

Thomas' pass to David Paulson gave Oregon a 21-3 lead in only 2:06. The team went 80 yards on eight plays.

Thomas, who completed 11 of 20 passes for 101 yards in the game, shaved four ticks off the next drive, marching 55 yards in 2:02.

To go up 35-3, Oregon moved even faster.

James returned a Kyle Dugandzic punt 53 yards, placing the Ducks at the UA 28-yard line.

It took the Ducks only four plays and 1:34 to score, capped by James' 19-yard touchdown run.

Once the Wildcats cut the lead to 11, Thomas capped a drive with a 5-yard run to make the lead 42-24. Time of possession: 2:15.

And for the final score, Kenjon Barner scored his second touchdown of the night, a 1-yard run, to finish the 2-minute, 29-second drive.

The Ducks' "Blur" offense has been exactly that all season.

In three games this season - against LSU, Nevada and Missouri State - the Ducks had averaged 52 points a game.

The team had 23 scoring drives before Saturday; 18 of them came in three minutes or less.

Arizona's fastest scoring drive Saturday was the team's 12th-longest of the season.

So if there's any solace to be taken by the Wildcats, it's not from the quality of their defensive performance Saturday night.

It's simply this: In struggling horribly against the nation's quickest, most dangerous offense, the Wildcats were not alone.

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Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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