When the seventh-ranked Oregon Ducks return to Autzen Stadium on Saturday to play Colorado, coach Mario Cristobal has one request of fans: No more booing.
Quarterback Anthony Brown faced boos and chants for his backup at Autzen two weeks ago, when fans became frustrated by a seemingly stalled offense. In response, Brown and the Ducks rallied with two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat California 24-17.
The final touchdown was Brown's 11-yard keeper.
Brown did it again last weekend in a 34-31 victory at UCLA, with a 43-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run that ultimately kept the game out of reach for the Bruins. He finished with 296 yards passing and 85 yards rushing.
While celebrating the victory, Cristobal told the Duck fans in the stands at the Rose Bowl: “Hey! No more booing at Autzen. I don't want to hear that (expletive)." He later apologized for the choice of words, but his sentiment was the same.
“Look, there’s going to be times where there are frustrating moments. We all have them. I get it. I totally get it," Cristobal said this week. “But I also fully understand and I hope we all understand and could agree upon that when Autzen is on fire, there is no comparison and that’s where we need it week in and week out.”
Brown is averaging 212.9 passing yards a game. He's thrown seven touchdowns and had three interceptions. He's also rushed for 327 yards this season, with six more scores.
Colorado (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) has struggled this season and is coming off a 26-3 loss at California. The Buffaloes have scored just 13 touchdowns with an average of just 15.1 points per game this season, both second-to-last in the Pac-12. They rank last in the league with an average of just 238.1 offensive yards a game.
The Ducks, conversely, rank second with 31 touchdowns and an average of 33.9 points per game. They're fourth in the league with 425.3 total yards per game.
Overall, Cristobal is pleased with the progress Oregon (6-1, 3-1) has made on offense but there's always room for improvement.
“We're starting to get more in sync. ... It’s not all the way to where it needs to be. There is progress. We’re excited about that, and it again starts with the quarterback and the guys up front,” Cristobal said.
Colorado coach Karl Dorrell announced Monday that he had relieved offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue of his duties. Colorado said it would honor the terms of his contract.
Rodrigue joined Dorrell's staff last year. His role with the team will be filled internally.
“We still have five games remaining in the season and can work hard to do what we can to improve our offensive line play," Dorrell said. "We have struggled most of the season, and without much consistency up front it’s been hard to find an identity for our offense. Not all of this is on Mitch, but in the end it falls on the coaches.”
COUNTING ON KAYVON
Heisman hopeful Kayvon Thibodeaux played for the entire game against the Bruins, and finished with nine tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss — including two sacks. He was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
“It’s max effort with him all the time and it showed up big time,” Cristobal said, adding that Thibodeaux deserves the recognition he's been getting.
Thibodeaux is widely expected to be among the top picks in next year's draft, if he opts to turn pro.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?
Colorado freshman Brenden Rice, son of 49ers great Jerry Rice, returned a kickoff 67 yards against Cal, longest return for the Buffs since 2012.
The younger Rice has four career plays of 60 yards or longer. In the Buff's Oct. 16 game against Arizona, he caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Brendon Lewis.
Rice suggested the Buffs need to play angry against the Ducks.
“People are too nice. People are way too nice and that’s all going to change this week. Especially for me. If I drop a ball I expect people to be on my butt like (cornerback) Mekhi Blackmon was on my butt last week. We need that change to get this pushed forward because it’s not the coaches, it starts with the players," Rice said. "So, it’s time to start to take that next step.”
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