The Ducks (6-1, 4-0) scored on their first three drives in the second half. Masoli ran for a 3-yard score and threw a 16-yard pass for another touchdown.
Sitting in a steel chair inside a darkened Edmundson Pavilion, Jeremiah Masoli rubbed his right knee pondering what might have happened if he was able to run like he had before the injury.
“I think speed wise I’m around 70-75 percent,” said the junior quarterback, who wasn’t sure he’d start in Oregon’s 43-19 victory when the day started. “I was kind of disappointed on some of the runs, but oh well.”
If Masoli had been fully healthy, then the 12th-ranked Ducks, who started slow and scored 28 points in the second half, might have really embarrassed a Washington defense that surrendered 416 yards.
“I think you saw in him that he was just taking what the defense was giving him,” said running back LaMichael James, who carried 15 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns. “Early on, the defense was focusing a lot on him and he was giving me the ball and then things switched. They started focusing on me and that’s when he took off.”
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Masoli, who missed a game and hadn’t played since hurting his knee Oct. 3 against Washington State, led Oregon to a 15-6 halftime lead. Washington, however, had outgained the Ducks 196 to 132 in the first half. The Huskies had also held Masoli to 72 passing yards and minus 21 rushing yards.
“It did take a couple of series just to get my feet under me,” said Masoli, who wore a custom-fitted knee brace. “You could definitely tell the difference when you haven’t played in a week and we also had the bye week. We’re all a little rusty, but a great team responds.”
The Ducks scored on their first three drives in the second half. Masoli ran for a 3-yard score and threw a 16-yard pass for another touchdown.
He was at his best midway in the third quarter when he directed a 13-play drive that covered 96 yards and consumed 4:08. During the possession, Masoli ran Oregon’s spread offense to perfection. He completed 3 of 5 passes, including a 26-yarder to senior tight end Ed Dickson on third and 15 to the Washington 35. Masoli capped the drive with a touchdown pass to D.J. Davis.
Masoli finished with 157 yards on 14-of-22 passing without throwing an interception. He was sacked twice and ran for 54 yards, including two touchdown runs.
In many ways, he looked like the old Jake Locker, running for big plays and making timely throws.
“He’s a big key [because] you have to defend the entire field,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. “When the quarterback is a ball-carrier, he’s an extra guy the defense has to take into account.”
Masoli admitted he had a little extra motivation Saturday playing against Locker, who many consider a top NFL draft prospect.
“Sometimes it happens naturally just being quarterbacks and being competitors,” Masoli said. “But at the end of the day you’re always rooting for another quarterback. And you want to see him do good, just not against your own team. Maybe at the end of the day after the game is over, but not during the game.”
Locker completed 23 of 44 passes for 266 yards and two interceptions. Oregon sacked him four times.
“If you’re asking me who I’d take, I’m taking my guy Jeremiah,” James said. “We feel so much confidence when he’s out there because he just opens thing up for everybody. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the country because he’s a winner.”
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