- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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In new head coach Mark Helfrich's debut, No. 3 Oregon did exactly what it was supposed to do -- crush overmatched Nicholls State -- gaining 772 yards in a 66-3 victory.
Three Ducks eclipsed 100 yards rushing. De'Anthony Thomas had 18 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Byron Marshall 124 yards on eight carries, one of which was a 49-yard TD. And QB Marcus Mariota chipped in 113 yards and two scores. Mariota also completed 12 of 21 passes for 234 yards and a TD before sitting out the fourth quarter.
“I thought our preparation to this point has been outstanding," Helfrich said. "I’m really happy with how guys performed today and also worked during fall camp. Now it’s sort of where you get in the game routine for the next game coming up”
Oregon rushed for 500 yards, averaging 11.1 yards per carry.
"That offense will match up against any defense in the nation," Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs said.
This was exactly what was expected. Nicholls State went 0-7 in the Southland Conference last year, its lone 2012 win coming over NAIA Evangel. Oregon State beat Nicholls State 77-3 last year.
The Ducks had no turnovers. It was a good show for Helfrich's first outing.
“That’s my first game being on the field since 1996," he said." It’s different regarding more of the game management part of it. It’s a completely different energy being on the field with the crowd and our players which is a lot more fun."
Any downside? Oregon did give up 343 yards -- 4.45 yards per play. But the scoreboard still only said "3" on that side of the ledger. It also wasn't good that CB Terrance Mitchell was ejected with a minute left in the first quarter after being penalized under the NCAA's new targeting rule.
"We need to coach it better," Helfrich said. "That’s on us. It’s a rule and we need to play by the rules.”
But he was happy with his defense overall.
"Defensively we played really well," Helfrich said. "They did a nice job of managing the clock and trying to get as much out of that as they could to keep the offense on the field and try to dial up a couple plays offensively for them.”
Things will get tougher for the Ducks next week. They travel across the country to take on Virginia, which opened with a win over BYU.