For many this day has been circled on the calendar for a year. Oregon and Stanford do battle Thursday Night in Palo Alto. What should we look for. There are several things I will be watching. Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made great decisions with the ball so far in 2013. He has yet to throw an interception. His Wide Receiver goto of recent weeks has been Bralon Addison and when he can’t be found there’s always Josh Huff. However the Defense they face on Thursday may bring another player into the fold for Oregon.
If Wideouts Aren’t ‘Open’, Expect Tight End Johnny Mundt to Make It Count
I may be going out on a limb on this one, but I expect that Stanford will do their best to keep Oregon from both Horizontal and Vertical completions. The Ducks have gotten better in the Vertical end this year than what they had last season in the loss to the Cardinal at Autzen. If Mariota can’t get things done through the air or with his feet, expect Mundt to step it up.
Oregon’s ‘Flash’ Offense vs Stanford’s ‘Old School Hold Down’ Defenses
It is obvious that the Cardinal are not 100 percent on Defense. Before the season started no one knew how good the Cardinal would be on kick returns either. This could be a big factor tonight, but the Ducks also have someone who can return kicks pretty well in Running Back De’Anthony Thomas. It will come down to the trenches and how physicals Oregon’s Offense is against the Stanford Defense. Expect the Ducks to pull out more Vertical plays than Horizonal ones. It was the side to side plays that burned the Ducks last year at Autzen.
Can Oregon Run the Ball Against the Cardinal
Last season Oregon was held to just under 200 yards on the ground vs Stanford. This year Oregon is ranked second nationally as a team with just over 331 yards per game. If you look at the rankings Byron Marshall ranks 20th with 879 yards on the season, just ahead of him is Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney with 886 yards. Both have 12 touchdowns. If the Ducks can run the ball more effectively than last year it may be enough to give them an edge. Considering that Stanford’s Defense has had some injuries this year and some players are returning for this game, the Ducks should take advantage if it is given.
Oregon and Stanford Kickoff Thursday Night at 6pm on ESPN.