A fast start to a game is never a bad thing, but for Oregon it may be a necessity in Saturday’s game against Stanford. To help that cause, the Ducks won’t have to deal with two of the Cardinal’s top defensive players because of first-half suspensions.
Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and linebacker Peter Kalambayi, both seniors, must sit out the first half of the Oregon game after being ejected for targeting last time out against Utah. Both players were flagged for helmet-to-helmet hits in the fourth quarter of the Cardinal’s 23-20 win in Salt Lake City, and by rule an ejection in the second half includes a first-half suspension in the following game.
The ejections happened four plays apart during Utah’s final possession of the game, which resulted in a touchdown to pull it within three points.
Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday during the Pac-12 coaches teleconference that had no qualms with the targeting calls, or the resulting punishment.
“Both calls were obvious and had to be made in this day and age of college football,” Shaw said. “There is no question both were helmet-to-helmet. The one with Harrison was kind of close, you can tell he did not launch himself but upon contact you can see the helmet swing from one side to the other so you have to call it. That is something we emphasize and try to teach and we have two great examples of what not to do going forward.”
Phillips is Stanford’s leading tackler, with 47 takedowns including 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. Kalambayi has 24 tackles, 2.5 TFL and two sacks. Removing that duo from the front of the Cardinal’s defense should enable Oregon to take some early chances in an effort to get quarterback freshman Braxton Burmeister more comfortable.
Burmeister was 15-of-27 for 145 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his first career start, a 33-10 home loss to Washington State.
Oregon, which failed to score 30 points for the first time under coach Willie Taggart, has outscored its opponents 90-48 in the first quarter and 167-75 in the first half. In the last three games since Pac-12 play started, though, the scoring advantage has been much lower with the Ducks holding a 34-24 first-quarter edge and just a 41-37 advantage through the first half.
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