Mario Cristobal could have had Justin Herbert standing safely next to him on the sideline for the entire second half.
But Oregon’s first-year head coach wants his team to have a killer instinct.
So the starting quarterback was the one taking the snaps and handing the ball off to the Ducks’ running backs during the final two scoring drives for the first-string offense.
Braxton Burmeister replaced Herbert late in the third quarter after No. 23 Oregon had a 49-14 lead en route to its 62-14 victory over Portland State on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
“When we feel we’ve accomplished what we want to offensively and we feel like we have the momentum of the game and we’ve seen enough of what we want to see,” Cristobal said when asked when he knows it’s time to pull Herbert and call off the Ducks. “We had a comfortable lead, but we hadn’t really just taken a drive to pound the football. So we did for a couple of drives. We still wanted Justin in there with those guys.”
Oregon’s last four scoring drives were finished off with rushing touchdowns.
Burmeister was 3-for-3 passing for 16 yards. Shough, a talented true freshman, did not attempt a pass in his collegiate debut.
“Braxton has earned the right to play, so we wanted to see him in there running the offense,” Cristobal said. “And I felt that it was time to get the third quarterback some reps as well. The season is long, you never know what it holds for us, so the more guys we can get ready the better.”
George Moore limped off the field with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Cristobal said the offensive tackle “tweaked” an ankle but he did return in the fourth quarter.
Starting outside linebacker La’Mar Winston did not suit up after going through concussion protocol after the Bowling Green game. Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir started after getting checked for a concussion after the opener.
True freshman Adrian Jackson started in place of Winston and finished with four tackles. Gus Cumberlander, who missed the opener with a foot injury, had one of Oregon’s four sacks.
“It’s great to see Gus out there. He’s as tall as a palm tree,” Cristobal said. “He got his hands on blockers and he’s able to get full extension without allowing guys to get hands on him. And he really works at this.”
Placekicker Adam Stack is still out with leg soreness. Walk-on Zach Emerson made his first eight extra points before having the final PAT try blocked.
After being called for only three penalties for 35 yards against Bowling Green, the Ducks were flagged five times for 55 yards Saturday.
Reducing the number of penalties has been a point of emphasis for Cristobal after Oregon ranked last in the Pac-12 in penalties last season under Willie Taggart.
Cumberlander was called for roughing the passer late in the third quarter but came up with a drive-ending sack to end the Portland State drive.
Kaulana Apelu led the team in tackles but was called for roughing the kicker on a Portland State extra-point kick.
“I love Lana like my own son, but I’m sure you’d love to have that one back where he took a head start to jump over the center,” Cristobal said. “We had a substitution one where as a staff we’ll probably run an extra gasser after practice. Because that’s on us. That can’t happen.”
Oregon is now 79-0 all-time when scoring 50 or more points in a game. The last time the Ducks scored 50 points in back-to-back games was in the 2014 Pac-12 championship against Arizona (51-13) and Rose Bowl win over Florida State (59-20). …
In Herbert’s 17 career starts, Oregon is averaging 43.4 points. The junior passed Chris Miller (42) for eighth place in school history for career touchdown passes with 43. …
Oregon has started 2-0 for the third consecutive season and has won 22 of its last 24 games as a ranked team.