Jim Leavitt compared Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander to Matt Grothe, who threw for more than 8,000 yards and rushed for an additional 2,000 during Leavitt’s final four years as head coach at South Florida from 2006 to '09.
“He moves around and throws on the run, don’t underestimate him,” the UO defensive coordinator said Wednesday when asked what he saw from Alexander on film.
Leavitt did not get to move those comparisons to the field because PSU coach Bruce Barnum switched quarterbacks and gave Jalani Eason the start against Oregon on Saturday. That wasn’t a surprise to the Ducks.
“We prepared for (Eason) as well because we knew last year he started against Oregon State and was a big part of that game,” Oregon linebacker Justin Hollins said after the 23rd-ranked Ducks defeated Portland State 62-14 on Saturday. “We also had a game plan for him. We knew he was mobile so we tried to contain and get after him.”
Eason threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in last year’s 35-32 loss at Oregon State, but Alexander took over the offense for the final four games of a winless season.
Alexander won the starting job again this year and threw all 51 passes for PSU in a season-opening 72-19 loss at Nevada. After Portland State won the opening toss and elected to receive, Eason ran onto the field with the starting offense against the Ducks.
“That was something we expected,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “We have good players on both sides of the ball and when a team comes in and our personnel is probably a little bit better, you will see those wrinkles.”
Portland State also subbed in third-stringer Danny Velasquez during the first series, but Eason ran the offense for most of the day before Alexander got in during the final series.
After Alexander threw 51 passes last week, the Vikings attempted just 16 against Oregon.
“Their strategy was to take the air out of the football,” Cristobal noted.
Portland State ran on 10 of its 13 plays in the first quarter with each of the three passes coming on third-and-long. The Vikings ran on 40 of 56 plays in the game while averaging 1.6 yards per carry.
“We didn’t know which quarterback would start, but we knew they could both scramble and were versatile and would try to run a lot, so we were prepared for them,” UO defensive end Jalen Jelks said.
Eason was sacked nearly once every four times he dropped back to pass as Oregon got him four times while he completed 7 of 14 passes for 111 yards and two scores.
Portland State got 118 of its 158 passing yards on two plays, including a 71-yard touchdown from Eason to Charlie Taumoepeau. Wide receiver Beau Kelly added a 47-yard pass to Taumoepeau, who had five catches for 125 yards and two scores.
“They got us on the trick play, got behind us and made us pay for that one,” Cristobal said. “Overall, we did a good job of knocking back at the line of scrimmage.”
Portland State had two running plays of more than 10 yards with a long of 20 yards by Sirgeo Hoffman, who ran 10 times for 40 yards.
Portland State punted on its first four drives and either punted or failed to convert on fourth down during nine of 11 possessions. The two touchdown drives by the Vikings were the only ones that ended on Oregon’s side of the field.
“We came out and attacked and played fast and hard,” Hollins said. “We were not settling for anything but our best.”