If there’s any defense that’s a horrible matchup for Oregon, it’s one that overmatches the offensive line and completely shuts down the running game. Well, that’s exactly what Chip Kelly has in store for him on Saturday night when they face Stanford.
- Rushing: 1st in conference, 1st nationally
- Passing: 7th in conference, 101st nationally
- Scoring: 1st in conference, 12th nationally
Two teams with two different philosophies will collide in less than 24 hours. The Ducks’ blur offense that’s fueled by a running attack has blown away the competition, averaging 325.1 yards on the ground. That’s more than 110 yards than the next best team in the Pac-12 (Arizona). They also score 54.8 points a game, nearly 17 points more than second-place Arizona. All that will be put to the test against the Cardinal that rank right at the top of the conference defensively in those same categories.
10 games into the season, Oregon has responded to this adversity. Arizona State had the best total defense when they hosted Oregon. The Ducks scored 43 points before after the Sun Devil defense forced a fumble and took the lead on the very first play offensively. USC had a fairly decent running defense before Kenjon Barner lit it up for over 300 yards and five scores. California was able to shut down Barner and Oregon’s defense had a cavalcade of injuries. Marcus Mariota started passing on them and threw six touchdowns in the air.
Now sitting at 10-0, the next biggest step is here. The defensive line rotates with plenty of depth. Leading the pack is senior defensive end Ben Gardner with 37 tackles (19 solo), 12 tackles for loss, and six sacks. Leading senior tackles, outside linebacker Chase Thomas and cornerback Terrence Brown, have 54 and 49 tackles respectively. Thomas has 11 TFL and three sacks. It’s easy to tell this team also leads the nation in tackles for loss with 91 combined, two more than second-place Arizona State.
If Mariota needs to put up the ball in the air again, he needs to watch for free safety Ed Reynolds. On top of 31 tackles (18 solo), he’s broken up five passes and picked the ball five times – including running three of them back for a touchdown. But the experience he gained against California should have helped, now it just depends on if he doesn’t re-aggravate his wrist injury.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.