Oregon Football: 5 Ducks to Watch vs. USC
The day Oregon fans have been waiting for since the 2012 schedule was released.
The Ducks are looking to avenge last season's 38-35 loss at Autzen Stadium, to remain unbeaten on the year, to hopefully gain ground in the polls and have a chance at playing for another national title.
Expect to see the numbers of these five Ducks called upon all night long in Los Angeles as they hope to storm L.A.
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Last season, as a true freshmen, Ekpre-Olomu as torched by USC's dynamic duo of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.
This year, Ekpre-Olomu has quite possibly been the most improved player for Oregon, and has turned into one of the nation's premier cornerbacks.
Ekpre-Olomu is going to have his hands full on Saturday night with Lee, who is coming off a 16 reception, 345 yard performance with two trips to the end zone in the loss to Arizona.
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The trigger man of it all.
Mariota is making quite possible the biggest start of any freshmen quarterback since Matt Barkley traveled to Ohio State as a true freshmen.
On the road, facing a crowd of over 100,000 USC fans, is not going to be an easy task for Mariota—and we will now learn if the poise we've seen so far isn't just the product of an easier schedule.
I'm predicting Mariota will be running a lot of zone read and bubble screens against a weak USC front seven, and I'd be shocked if he took many deep shots downfield.
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Lyerla is still on injury watch, but according to a report from Oregon officials, he should be good to go against the Trojans.
Lyerla is a monster on the offensive side of the football. He has already caught four touchdowns despite only having 12 receptions on the season.
But what I'm most looking forward to is his ability on the ground.
Lyerla is a change of pace to actually slow down the Ducks offense and give a little power to Oregon's backfield.
His versatility will be a major difference maker against USC.
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Dion Jordan is the best pass-rusher on Oregon's roster, let alone the Pac-12.
I know this. You know this. USC knows this.
As little faith as I have in the Trojans' offensive line, they are going to make a game plan around stopping Jordan from getting to Matt Barkley.
With that, a hole gets opened up for Michael Clay, one of the most versatile linebackers I've seen wear an Oregon jersey.
Clay is great at both run-stopping and pass rush, and should have plenty of opportunities to get in Barkley's face come Saturday.
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I really wanted to give my fifth spot to Kenjon Barner, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Thomas deserves to be on this list, too.
As I said about Mariota, I expect Chip Kelly to call a lot of zone reads and bubble screens against a weak Trojan front seven in order to wear them out early, which means Thomas should receive lots of touches.
Thomas could have the best game of his brief career, if all goes according to plan.