STANFORD, Calif. — The reshuffled offensive line wasn’t perfect.
Justin Herbert was sacked four times and the Ducks struggled to create any big plays in the running game.
The depth and experience up front still won out during No. 16 Oregon’s 21-6 smothering of Stanford on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium.
Jake Hanson missed only the second start of his career and the first due to injury.
The senior had to sit out the first half of last year’s loss at Utah for a targeting penalty and was being evaluated for an unspecified injury following Oregon’s 35-3 win over Montana.
With Hanson watching in street clothes from the sideline, Calvin Throckmorton played center and fellow senior Brady Aiello filled in at right tackle.
“Overall just too inconsistent in the run game,” coach Mario Cristobal said of Stanford’s decision to stack the box and stop the ground game. “It does open up stuff in the quick game, the screening, and some of the (run-pass options), and down-the-field shots.
"So there is a give and a take there, and luckily we got more than was taken from us.”
The four sacks of Herbert resulted in a loss of 25 yards, which damaged the Ducks’ rushing total (61 net yards).
CJ Verdell had 24 carries for 82 yards (3.4 per carry). Travis Dye only had one carry but picked up a key first down with a 24-yard reception on a screen pass.
Backup running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who left the Montana game with backs spasms, was on the trip but did not dress out.
“Whenever you go against the defensive line and linebackers like Stanford’s, you're gonna have some trouble,” Herbert said of facing pressure. “And there's some things I could have done, flipped some protections and done some stuff better.
“But I think we did a great job. The offensive line did a great job all game, and I was really pleased with that performance.”
No Juwan, no problem
Wide receiver Juwan Johnson has still not made his Oregon debut. The Penn State graduate transfer was unavailable again due to a calf injury.
Brenden Schooler, the senior wide receiver and special teams standout who underwent foot surgery during fall camp, made the trip and was running around on the field during pregame warmups.
Cristobal said Schooler and freshman receiver Mycah Pittman (shoulder) were on track to return to practice after the Ducks’ bye week with an eye on returning to the lineup for the Oct. 5 home game against California.
Senior tight end Jacob Breeland continued to pick up the slack with five receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
“Got to give credit to coach (Marcus) Arroyo. He's found way to use the tight ends a lot more in the offense this year than we did last year,” Cristobal said of his offensive coordinator. “In the absence of some of our wide receivers due to injury, just have to keep finding ways to get the ball out and make explosive plays.”
Defense gets deeper
Oregon defensive tackle Austin Faoliu and outside linebacker Bryson Young were back in the rotation after sitting out the 35-3 win over the FCS Grizzlies in the nonconference finale with undisclosed injuries.
Cornerback Thomas Graham not only started after leaving the Montana game on crutches but led the Ducks with nine tackles and two pass breakups.
Touted true freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux recorded his first sack (technically a shared sack), and classmate Brandon Dorlus made a tackle on his first collegiate snap.
• Herbert extended his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 32, the longest streak in the nation. He also became the fourth Oregon quarterback to surpass 8,000 career passing yards on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jaylon Redd in the first quarter.
• The Ducks had lost four consecutive Pac-12 openers dating back to a 38-31 victory at Washington State in 2014.
• Oregon has outscored its opponents 84-15 in the first half.
• The Ducks trail the all-time series with Stanford 33-49-1 with a 15-29-1 record on the road.
• Stanford fell to 51-9 at home since the start of the 2010 season.
• Herbert, Lemieux, outside linebacker La’Mar Winston and safety Jevon Holland were Oregon’s captains.
“There are a lot of things to be excited about, and I'm excited to get on that plane,” Cristobal said. “Those guys were pretty happy in the locker room. Threw a lot of the water on me in there, so.”