It looks like Oregon's prolific offense can still motor at full speed even without the guidance of Chip Kelly, as the No. 3 Ducks racked up a school record 772 total yards in a 66-3 trouncing of the Nicholls State Colonels in their 2013 opener at Autzen Stadium on Saturday.
Coming off a 12-1 season -- which ended with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Kansas State -- and a change in leadership on the sideline, Oregon (1-0) cruised to victory in record-breaking fashion in its opening game thanks to a combined five first half touchdowns by Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas.
The duo spearheaded a rushing attack for Oregon that netted an astonishing 500 yards, with each running for two scores and Mariota accumulating 113 yards and Thomas garnering 128 on 18 carries. Mariota also threw for a touchdown and 234 yards on an efficient 12-of-21.
Mark Helfrich was the offensive coordinator for Kelly during his successful four-year tenure in Eugene, and took over the head coaching reigns after Kelly left to take the open vacancy with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It was great," said Helfrich about his first game as Oregon's head coach. "It's a tremendous sense of confidence being around our guys and our staff. It was just a great team win."
Nicholls State (0-1) trailed for good 1 1/2 minutes into the game and lost starting quarterback Beaux Hebert in the first quarter after he took a blow to the head. Kalen Henderson completed 21-of-40 throws for 214 yards in relief.
The Oregon offense got to work quickly, scoring 24 unanswered points in the first quarter while commanding a 235-56 advantage in total yards. In between four and 22-yard touchdown runs from Thomas, Mariota hooked up with Bralon Addison for a 27-yard score and Alejandro Maldonado added a 29-yard field goal off a Hebert fumble to cap the scoring in the opening frame.
"There's no question. We knew that they'd present us problems," said Colonels coach Charlie Stubbs. "It's hard to simulate Oregon's offense in practice. They were so fast. Also, if you make a mistake, they have such skilled athletes and will make you pay."
The only blemish in the quarter for the Ducks was when defensive back Terrance Mitchell was ejected after targeting the head of a defenseless Hebert. Hebert was injured on the play, but the result of the penalty set up Andrew Dolan for a 35-yard field goal early in the second period.
Dolan, though, missed a 49-yard try as time expired in the first half, by which time the Ducks were in full control of a 38-3 lead. Mariota had a lot to do with it, as the speedy quarterback rushed for 12 and 46 yard touchdowns, respectively, after Nicholls State got its first points of the game.
Byron Marshall also crossed the century mark in rushing for Oregon, with his 49-yard third quarter touchdown run highlighting an eight-carry, 124-yard performance. Colt Lyerla and Jeff Lockie each added rushing scores in the fourth before Jake Rodriguez capped the scoring with a 23-yard TD pass.
For the first time in school history, three Oregon players eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in a single game ... The Ducks had possession for just 19:45, compared to Nicholls State's 40:15 ... It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools ... Marcus Washington recorded a game-high 11 receptions for 92 yards in the setback for the Colonels.