Oregon Football: 5 Keys to Victory over Fresno State
Lightning continues to strike in Eugene as Oregon got off to a fast start in the 2012 season, winning easily against Arkansas State 57-37 at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks stay at home this week to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs of the Mountain West Conference and hope to continue their winning ways and enter Week 3 2-0.
To avoid the upset, however, Oregon is going to have to make several things happen first to ensure a victory over the Bulldogs.
1. Get the Running Game Going
Fresno State's defense was able to contain Weber State's rushing attack to only 67 yards on 29 attempts, so it starts out the season as one of the better rushing defenses in the country.
Weber State, an FCS school, isn't even in the same solar system as the Ducks when it comes to the running game, but even if Oregon were playing USC, the running game has got to get on a roll and get on a roll early.
The Ducks pounded the ball 57 times for 297 yards and four touchdowns against Arkansas State and look for them to do the same against the Bulldogs, but with less carries as they won't have to burn so much time off the clock.
2. Limit the Passing Attack
Ryan Alpin was able to torch the Ducks' secondary for 304 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night.
Even if almost all of those stats came against Oregon's backups, the Ducks have got to play better. Brian Jackson was flat-out beat on Alpin's 72-yard bomb to Julian Jones late in the first half.
Derek Carr, the younger brother of former Bulldog and first-round draft pick David, easily threw for 298 yards and two scores against Weber State, and he's hungry for more.
If the Ducks want to avoid the upset, then the passing defense has to step up.
3. Continue to Play Freshmen
Bralon Addison, Byron Marshall, Arik Armstead and Dwayne Stanford all saw playing time for the Ducks against Arkansas State, and Chip Kelly would be wise to do so against the Bulldogs as well.
Who wants to lose a star player like Josh Huff, Kenjon Barner, Dion Jordan or De'Anthony Thomas against Fresno State?
All four contributed something last Saturday and there is no reason why they couldn't still do so this early in the season against Oregon's easier opponents.
4. Make Big Plays on Special Teams
The new kickoff rule seems to affect Oregon more than any other team in the nation.
The Ducks, who relished big returns from Thomas and Huff, had none against the Red Wolves.
While special teams seems to be the smallest third of football, the ability to make big plays on special teams is undervalued.
If you can score without your offense even having to step on the field, or at least giving them good field position, your chances of winning increase.
If Thomas or Huff can make big plays in the return game, an Oregon victory is almost guaranteed.
5. Not Let the Game Get Away in the Fourth
Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian had a great article on the negatives from the blowout win over Arkansas State.
As good as Oregon is, the Ducks can not let themselves fall asleep in the second half, even if they have a 40-point lead.
The Red Wolves merely ran out of clock. Had the game been longer, Oregon might have been in trouble, and the Ducks cannot let themselves fall into apathy for the rest of the season.