EUGENE — From surprise starter to star of the game, it was quite a day for Johnny Mundt.
The freshman tight end caught five passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday in No. 2 Oregon's 59-14 win against Tennessee at Autzen Stadium.
It was the best statistical performance by an Oregon tight end since Ed Dickson had 11 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns against California in 2009.
"He was awesome, incredible," quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "He made the most of every opportunity. Every catch he made, he did the most he could. I am so proud of that guy. For a freshman, you would expect him to be wide-eyed, but he was calm and collected and looked like he had a lot of fun."
Starter Colt Lyerla was held out of the game due to "circumstances," according to coach Mark Helfrich, and though he wouldn't offer anything additional, Mundt said he thought Lyerla was sick.
Whatever the reason, Mundt knew Friday he was starting and the 6-foot-4, 232-pounder from Modesto, Calif., made the most of his opportunity.
"My mindset was just to make the best of the situation," Mundt said. "I was ready if I got my shot. I was going to run routes to get open, catch the ball, and do what I can when I get it."
Mundt gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a 16-yard reception late in the first quarter that made it 10-7. He added a 17-yard TD catch in the third quarter that put Oregon up 45-7. In between he also had a 57-yard catch and run to the Vols' 9, setting up a TD run by Mariota for a 17-7 lead.
"The guy's rock solid," Helfrich said. "He comes and works every day, has a great attitude. He's a guy you root for. There's a lot of guys like that on our team. But he in particular is just a real positive guy and works really hard and wants to do everything he can to help our team."
PLAGUED BY PENALTIES: After getting flagged 11 times for 119 yards last week in its win against Virginia, Oregon was again plagued by a lack of discipline against the Vols, getting penalized eight times for 62 yards.
Some of those penalties were more costly than others for the Ducks.
A holding call on the opening kickoff, negated an 80-yard return by De'Anthony Thomas and moved Oregon back to its own 16.
Later in the first quarter, a pick by receiver Bralon Addison negated a 5-yard game-tying touchdown reception by Thomas on fourth-and-goal.
With the ball pushed back to the Vols' 20, the Ducks instead opted for a 38-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Oregon obviously overcame those early mistakes to record its third straight blowout victory, but receiver Josh Huff said the Ducks have to clean up their act.
"You just have to stay focused and stay locked in and don't do anything stupid," he said.
BALL BOUNCING OREGON'S WAY: The Ducks led the nation in turnovers in 2012 with 40 — 25 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries — and are on pace for another strong season.
With one fumble recovery against Tennessee, the Oregon defense increased its season total to seven turnovers, while the Ducks are yet to commit a turnover.
The only turnover Saturday came on the Volunteers' initial drive of the game when defensive lineman Taylor Hart stripped the ball from running back Rajion Neal, and linebacker Derek Malone recovered the fumble at the Tennessee 30-yard line.
AND NOW, A WEEK OFF: Next up for the Ducks is a bye week before hosting California on Sept. 28 in their Pac-12 Conference opener.
Oregon will take today and Monday off before returning Tuesday for three straight days of practice.
"We have to take advantage of this bye week and get better," Helfrich said. "Now's not the time to put it in neutral."
EXTRA POINTS: With 27 net yards rushing on Saturday, Marcus Mariota became just the fourth quarterback in school history to reach 1,000 yards rushing in his career. With 1,014 career yards, Mariota joins Reggie Ogburn, Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Masoli in the 1,000-yard club. "¦ Mariota also extended his streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 16. "¦ Senior receiver Josh Huff tied his career high with 125 yards on six catches. "¦ Oregon scored at least eight touchdowns for the third straight week.