The crowd of 54,766 was understandably frustrated after Oregon’s clumsy first half on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
Justin Herbert was intercepted for the first time this football season, and Travis Dye lost two fumbles as the Ducks dug themselves a 7-0 hole.
Before coach Mario Cristobal or any of his assistants had a chance to talk about adjustments in the locker room during the intermission, senior linebacker Troy Dye assuaged the situation.
“Troy Dye addressed the team with words that were powerful, that made it really clear that we weren’t playing up to our standard and what we are capable of, and what we must do,” Cristobal said. “Those words were echoed by everyone else. … Troy and the rest of the leaders did an excellent job.
“It was really rewarding to watch the growth of our football team at halftime. From our opinion, that’s a huge step for our program.”
The Ducks (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) scored 17 unanswered points in the second half for a 17-7 victory over California.
Oregon, which remained No. 13 in the polls, has held four consecutive opponents to single digits on the scoreboard for the first time since 1960.
Andy Avalos’ unit is ranked sixth nationally in points allowed (9.8 per game) and seventh in yards allowed (261.4 per game).
“When we get down and the fire gets hot, some teams start to break and some teams start to bend,” freshman defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux said after sacking Devon Modster twice and forcing the Cal quarterback to fumble. “But when you’ve got leaders like we do and you’ve got a family like we do, you’ve got to keep fighting.
“You stay in the fight until you come out victorious.”
Jevon Holland and Dye each had an interception. Oregon is tied with Ohio State for fifth with eight picks this season.
The dominant defensive performance allowed the Ducks to overcome the early miscues by the offense, a missed field goal and eight penalties totaling 85 yards.
“No one flinched,” Cristobal said. “Even though we might have been pressing, everyone encouraged each other, everyone pushed each other and just took on the mentality this was going to be a dogfight.
“And that’s OK. Let’s make sure that we buckle up, tighten that chin strap a little bit tighter, clinch our hands a little bit tighter and gear down and get ready to play some good football.”
Oregon has a short week with Colorado up next on Friday at Autzen (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
The Ducks are two games up on North Division rivals Cal (4-2, 1-2), Stanford (3-3, 2-2), Washington (4-2, 1-2) and Washington State (3-2, 0-2).
Oregon State improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12 with a 48-31 victory over Chip Kelly’s wretched UCLA team at the Rose Bowl.
“We don’t hang our hat on anything. Week in and week out, we’ve got to come to work,” Thibodeaux said. “We’ve got a game Friday, and to be honest, that’s what we’re worried about.”
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