ARLINGTON, Texas — Here are some quick-hit observations following No. 11 Oregon’s 27-21 loss to No. 16 Auburn on Saturday to open the Ducks’ 2019 college football season.
1, Depleted receiving corps did more good than bad
Things didn’t look good for Oregon when receiver Juwan Johnson and tight end Cam McCormick were in street clothes during pregame warmups. Johnson’s absence was particularly concerning because the 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior transfer from Penn State was expected to lead a position group already reeling from the loss of Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler to injuries suffered in fall camp.
As it turned out, Oregon’s pass catchers were a bright spot Saturday.
Wide receiver Johnny Johnson III had seven receptions for 98 yards — both career highs — receiver Jaylon Redd had a career-high nine receptions for 64 yards and tight end Spencer Webb had one of the more memorable plays of the game with his 20-yard TD catch in the second quarter in what was the first career catch for the redshirt freshman.
2, Jerry’s World remains Oregon’s House of Horrors
The Ducks got their third shot in nine years to win a game at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. Oregon is now 0-3 in Arlington.
Granted, the Ducks were closer to victory on Saturday against Auburn than in their season-opening 40-27 loss to LSU in 2011 or their 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the CFP National Championship game in 2015, but a loss is still a loss and once again Duck fans leave Dallas disappointed.
3, The run game disappeared after the first quarter
Oregon had a net of 67 yards rushing on 12 carries by the end of the first quarter. By halftime those numbers were 20 rushes for 70 yards. They were 26 for 88 in the third and then 33 for 90 by the time Oregon headed to the locker room after Auburn rallied for the 27-21 win. So what happened between the Ducks’ 14-point first quarter that included two long scoring drives and the rest of the game when the Ducks managed 156 yards on their final 47 plays?
“A lot of those plays in the (first half) were RPOs (run-pass options),” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “It wasn’t a matter of the run not being called, it was the defensive look dictated more plays … in the pass call than the run call.”
4, Holland shines in starting role
Jevon Holland wanted everyone to know he was a talented punt returner in high school at Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, Calif. He just needed to be unleashed.
The sophomore safety had a superb night for the Ducks, starting at safety and returning punts as he assumed the role previously held by Ugo Amadi.
Holland returned three punts for 131 yards, including an 81-yarder in the second quarter that was the longest punt return at AT&T Stadium during a college game.
“All the credit goes to my blockers,” said Holland, who had the most punt return yards by a Duck since Bralon Addison in 2013.
Holland also had an interception late in the second quarter to end Auburn's drive at the Oregon 23. Holland led the Ducks with five picks last season.
5, Special teams a mixed bag for Oregon
Holland was obviously the highlight, with his 131 yards in three returns, but freshman Camden Lewis missed his only field-goal attempt of the night when his 20-yarder went wide right in the first quarter, and punter Blake Maimone was called for a late hit after he made a tackle out of bounds. Maimone otherwise had a decent night with a 48.9-yard average on seven punts.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to give the correct location of Bishop O'Dowd High School.