Oregon's offense sputtered for most of the first half. Mike Bellotti's fail-safe system was tested by jittery Jeremiah Masoli. The explosiveness was intact, but the ability to turn that explosiveness into points was not.
Max Unger just hadn't done much. I can praise him for holding the middle or not getting beat, but that's essential center work, not the play of a top prospect in a top center draft.
Oregon ran a naked bootleg left to start its fourth drive. Unger pops out and takes a hard angle right, forcing the defense to follow and allowing Masoli an unmolested throwing lane in the left near-flat. Masoli connects with Terrence Scott for 44. Another foundational play by Unger that's not flashy, but significant.
Masoli chucks a wobbly spiral into double cover despite a good pocket and a receiver wide open on a drag route. Unger shows a good slide step, but is largely unchallenged as the Ducks line looks like the famed Ducks line.
Same formation for Oregon: 2 WR (right), WR (left), TE (right), RB (left), Shotgun. Oklahoma State is in a 4-2 nickel. Unger snaps, angles left, gets into and under recurring fall guy Tonga Tea, drives him back, keeps on him, and drives him into the ground. Unger drops into Boston Harbor with Tea, but springs up and looks for another Cowboy to block. Unfortunately, the play is long over. A juggling Jeremiah Johnson is already tackled after a stumble of two.
Unger gets under and puts a good push on Derek Burton, Jr. turning him out, back facing the left sideline. Masoli decides against handing off, sneering at the two clear and cavernous holes up the middle and instead attempts to run up behind Burton, gets cut off by a Cowboys outside linebacker, stops and is tackled by the disengaging Burton after a bad-decision stutter step of one. Unger doesn't dominate, but this play is very Shaun Alexander: Bad decisions and hesitant running sabotaging otherwise good offensive line play.
The drive ends with a blocked field goal. Oregon is still in the blocks, but something's building and it's starting up front.