Welcome to another edition of LET US DELIGHT IN, a weekly feature in which we, well, delight in the performance of a particular football player from the previous weekend. This week, we are delighting in the performance of Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams.
It's kind of amazing that less than a year after they appeared in the national championship game, we kind of forgot about Oregon. On October 11th, the Ducks were 3-3 and coming off an overtime loss to Washington State. They looked absolutely cooked. Out of Playoff and Pac-12 contention, they fell off the national radar. That's when a fully healthy Vernon Adams stepped back into the starting quarterback spot, and five wins later, yeah, we remember Oregon now.
On Saturday, Adams kept up his masterful level of play, absolutely laying waste to USC's defense en route to an emphatic 48-28 win over the Trojans. His stat line was gaudy: 20-25 for 407 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He dabbled in both schools' record books for his efforts, tying the single-game touchdown record for Oregon, and setting a new record for most passing yards ever surrendered by a USC defense. Never mind that there were multiple times it looked like the USC secondary's controllers were disconnected, that's still pretty damn good.
It takes a real effort for an 80% completion percentage to get bumped off the front page, but that just happened. Each of his six touchdown passes went to different receivers, too.
To put Adams' level of play into context, he's thrown 16 touchdown passes over the past four games. Marcus Mariota never got higher than 14 over any four-game stretch in his illustrious career in Eugene. If Adams hadn't gotten hurt early in the year, it's not difficult to envision them winning the Pac-12 yet again, and being in contention for a Playoff spot. The margins are razor thin in college football, and after years of Ric Flairing it on the big side of town, their disaster season still involves knocking Stanford out of the Playoff and dunking all over USC. Heaven help the poor saps that run into the Ducks in a bowl game.
By virtue of Stanford's win over Cal, the Ducks' late season run at snagging the Pac-12 North out from under Cardinal's nose was unsuccessful. But considering where Oregon was just a month ago, it's amazing they stretched the drama out as long as they did. That they were able to do so is a testament to Adams' toughness and skill.