Oregon Football: 3 Ways Ducks Will Continue Pac-12 Dominance
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The Oregon Ducks have dominated every opponent they have faced, cruising to a 5-0 record.
Through five games this season, as the offense has gone, so has their defense, which is something the decision committee will have to consider when choosing teams for the national championship.
So what are the keys to keep the pressure on their opponents?
Continue Their Bread and Butter
Oregon's run game has always been its strong point. Through five games, the Ducks have averaged 303 rushing yards per game (sixth in college football). Overall, they have the seventh-best offense.
The Ducks haven't played any world beaters thus far this season, but they did play two teams with upside in Washington State and Arizona.
Against the Wildcats of Arizona, Oregon rushed for 228 yards on 53 carries, a 4.3 YPC average.
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Barner, now a senior, has averaged an amazing six yards per carry over his career at Eugene.
This season he has rushed for 605 yards and nine touchdowns on only 93 carries. If Barner is Batman, then Robin is without a doubt De'Anthony Thomas.
Thomas, the sleek and speedy sophomore, can be scary good. As a freshman, he put up 595 total yards on 55 carries. That is a 10.8 yards-per-carry average! The bad news for him is that he is "only" averaging 9.7 yards per carry this season.
Opponents will see a heavy dose of both players for the remainder of the season.
Get More from Special Teams
How do they do that?
More from the aforementioned De'Anthony Thomas.
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Thomas, who is seeing more touches than he was last year (approximately 10 per game last season), needs to get more involved with special teams.
Thomas made himself a household name last season from special teams. He is getting his fair share of touches on punt returns, but Oregon needs to make him an integral part of kickoffs as well.
Thomas has a small stature at 5'9" but also possesses the elusiveness needed to evade the bruisers on opponents special teams. Oregon fans cannot be worried about his health, especially considering he carries the ball between the tackles consistently without any issues.
So why not jump-start the offense and get the fans in it early?
Chip Kelly needs to get this kid the ball at least 15 times per game. While Kelly is sure to give the ball to Barner 20-plus times, he can near that by putting Thomas all over the field.
Then watch the fireworks.
Keep Up the Defensive Tenacity
Oregon plays defense?
OK, well at least a semblance of one, which is a change of pace from past seasons.
The Ducks are the 54th-best defense in the nation, with their rushing defense being stronger.
Their biggest performance came against Arizona when they shut them down, allowing zero points (while also scoring twice on interception returns). Furthermore, Arizona failed to score once even though it had six red-zone possessions.
While the Ducks have still allowed yardage totals above what they'd like, the scoring totals for their opponents hasn't been nearly as high.
Get this: Oregon's defense has taken the field 11 times in its own territory through five games this season.
The result: The Ducks allowed only two touchdowns and two field goals.
For a team that scores over 40 points almost every time they hit the field, allowing 18 points per game on defense is scary.
Oregon's scary combo looks great now, but we'll have to see how it holds up when the big dogs of the Pac-12 come around. With USC, Stanford and Oregon State still on the schedule, Oregon has to keep its defensive fluidity going to prove naysayers wrong.
The Ducks certainly have my attention.
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