Oregon Football: 5 Keys to Victory over Arizona
With their cupcake of a non-conference schedule finally over with, the Oregon Ducks football team kicks off their quest for a fourth consecutive Pac-12 crown this weekend.
They couldn't be doing it in a more exciting way than with Arizona coming to town.
The Wildcats are undefeated and gave new coach Rich Rodriguez a huge win over previously ranked Oklahoma State. They will provide Oregon the test that they will need to impress the voters.
Pressure Matt Scott
Few quarterbacks have been more impressive than Matt Scott in my mind.
The 6'3 200lb. dual threat has handled Rich Rod's spread-option offense, throwing for 995 and seven touchdowns, while also adding two scores with his legs.
Scott is fast and can escape the pocket when the pressure breaks through.
The Ducks stand at the top of the conference in sacks, and they are going to need to force more against Arizona to keep Matt Scott from being an offensive catalyst.
While I was impressed with the effort of the Ducks defense, they just need to relax a bit.
Up big over Tennessee Tech, they were constantly flagged for late hits, and they can't afford to have that mistake happen against the Wildcats.
Arizona's offense is already going to be enough of a challenge, so Oregon can't allow them to gain free yards with penalties.
Hold onto the Football
As good as De'Anthony Thomas is, he has got to hold onto the football better.
The Heisman contender has been electrifying all season but fumbled twice against Tennessee Tech, one of which was on a punt return that was recovered by the Golden Eagles.
Playing a more competitive team like Arizona is going to be something new for the Ducks. While they are predicted to win, they cannot turnover the ball and lose out on chances to score.
Contain the Spread Offense
Oregon is in a unique position. For the first time, they are facing a playbook that is very similar to theirs, and it remains to be seen how they will handle a fast-paced, spread-option offense.
The Wildcats are seventh in the nation in passing, and 19th in rushing, while also placing in the Top 15 in scoring offense (12th).
The Ducks need to avoid a shoot-out and not get a taste of their own medicine, wearing out the defense with so many plays being run so quickly.
Make Plays in Space
Kind of an obvious one, but it's how Oregon has won in the past, and I am a firm believer in: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Bubble screens, option runs and pounding the ball with Kenjon Barner, Thomas and Byron Marshall—they are all the Ducks need to beat Arizona at home and perhaps to possibly move into that No. 2 spot in the nationwide rankings.