We are finally back and Oregon football opens the 2021 season trying not to look ahead to next week. Up first, a Fresno State team that could test the Ducks’ defense. Oregon had a solid season in 2020, but success seemed to be staggered throughout. If the Oregon defense has a game like it did at Oregon State last year, it may be a long afternoon.
Fresno State brings the likely top player not just in the program, but in the Mountain West in Ronnie Rivers. He was productive running for 58 yards as well as catching the ball for 66 yards and a touchdown in the game last week as the Bulldogs hosted Connecticut.
The Bulldogs have the full attention of Mario Cristobal and the Ducks, “It’s a team that returns a lot of starters. They are explosive on offense… at running back they are as good as you’ll find. I know Rivers has shattered about every record.”
It will be up to Kayvon Thibodeaux and a lot of defensive talent along the line to box in Rivers and keep him in check. Over the course of the next month, Thibodeaux and Co. could very well put the Pac-12 on notice if they play up to expectations. For a player that is in contention for the Heisman Trophy in 2021, I would expect a solid showing against Fresno State leading up to the game everyone has circled on their calendar against what could be a susceptible Ohio State team starting a freshman at quarterback next weekend.
Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter joked earlier this week about having to train his Fresno State defense back in 2016 to go after Marcus Mariota. If he had Thibodeaux on his defensive line back then, the outcome of that game may have been a little closer.
Oregon and Fresno State kickoff on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT from Autzen Stadium. The game will also be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.
Quote obtained during Mario Cristobal’s Weekly Press Conference