Nicholls State Colonels vs. Oregon Ducks Complete Game Preview

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Nicholls State Colonels vs. Oregon Ducks Complete Game Preview
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
New Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich will take the field as a head coach for the first time on Saturday when the Ducks host Nicholls State

Here's everything you need to know.

 

Time: 4:00 p.m. ET

Place: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.

TV: FoxSports1

Radio:  Oregon Sports Network, 750 The Game in Portland, Ore.

Spread: Apparently you can bet on FBS vs. FCS contests some places. According to Oddshark.com, the Ducks only need to cover a 58.5-point spread.

 

Nicholls State Keys to Victory

Force turnovers

Oregon fans might remember the season-opener in 2004 when lowly Indiana rolled into Autzen Stadium and turned seven Oregon turnovers into 30 points. The Ducks outgained the Hoosiers 495 to 198, but the No. 25 Ducks couldn't hold onto the ball. For Nicholls State, they might need double-digit turnovers in order to have a shot.

No disrespect to the Colonels. but that is the best I can do. They have won two games over the past two seasons at the FCS level. They enter this year without their starting quarterback. The Ducks could probably lose the turnover battle by 10 and still pull this one out.

 

Oregon Keys to Victory

Hold on to the Ball

See above. The Ducks need to show up and show that they are focused on doing the little things right. The rest will take care of itself.

 

Players to Watch for Nicholls State

The Colonels return 22 starters from their three units, and a total of 57 lettermen return.

RB Marcus Washington is the Colonels' workhorse. Last year he had 25 catches out of the backfield and has rushed for over 1,400 yards in his first two seasons. He was named First Team All-League in 2012.

TE Nick Scelfo was a Second Team All-League selection after hauling in 37 receptions for 489 yards in 2012.

WR Erik Buchanan is the deep threat for the Colonels after averaging a ridiculous 28.3 yards per catch in 2012.

For more on the Colonels, check out this preview by Dan McDonald of SportsNOLA.com 

 

Players to Watch for Oregon

Everyone knows about the Ducks' Heisman Trophy candidates in QB Marcus Mariota and all-everything De'Anthony Thomas. While watching them try to compile enough stats in their quarter or two of play will be compelling, Oregon fans will most likely be focused on the Ducks' linebackers, running backs and newcomers that will see plenty of time on Saturday.

The Ducks' have to replace linebackers and team leaders Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso. Junior Rodney Hardrick will replace Alonso in the middle, while junior Derrick Malone Jr. will replace Clay on the weak side. Junior DE's Tony Washington and sophomore Christian French will help shore up the pass rush from the hybrid drop-end spot departed by Dion Jordan.

Most have pegged De'Anthony Thomas as the No. 1 back, but if he ever gets 20 carries in a game from the running back spot, someone's job could be in jeopardy. Sophomore Byron Marshall will be relied upon to step up and carry the load for the Ducks in between the tackles.

Heralded newcomer Thomas Tyner has expectations higher than almost any running back recruit in Oregon history. He should help Marshall carry the load between the tackles and dominate in the open field like Thomas. Saturday should provide a glimpse into the progress made by both Marshall and Tyner as they look to take over the coveted running back spot in Oregon's powerful offense

The Ducks are loaded with young talent, much of that talent has never seen the field. Among the players coming off of either an injury or a redshirt year are WR Chance Allen (RS-F), safety Avery Patterson (Sr.), TE Evan Baylis (RS-F), DT Jared Ebert (RS-S) and safety Reggie Daniels (RS-F)

Aside from Tyner, the incoming freshman that impressed enough in fall camp to earn a spot on the depth chart include OL Cameron Hunt, TE Johnny Mundt, OLB Torrodney Prevot, LB Tyrell Robinson and K Matt Wogan. Others could work their way into the mix, but according to Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich, that is the group most likely to get reps on Saturday.

 

What They are Saying

Nicholls State head coach Charlie Stubbs likes the potential of his 2013 squad, per Dan McDonald of SportsNOLA.com.

"This is easily the most talented football team we've had since I've been here," Stubbs said. "We'll see how quick we can get them all to blend, but we have a lot of guys back with experience and there's no substitute for that."

Per Bob Clark of the Eugene Register Guard, Ducks' head coach Mark Helfrich was asked about the subject of when to, "shut it down," if the game gets out of hand on the scoreboard. 

When does that point arrive? Helfrich could be tested on that matter Saturday.

“Some guys say when you get to the fourth quarter, some guys say when you get to the second half,” Helfrich said of limiting the offense.

His sense of the timing for that?

“When it feels right, and hopefully that’s a problem,” Helfrich said. “If that’s a problem, we’ll be in good shape.”

 

Prediction

Oregon 73, Nicholls State 3

Even Ducks fans might start to feel bad for the Colonels by the end of the first quarter. The New Mexico game from the 2010 season comes to mind. You know, the one in which Cliff Harris returned two punts for touchdowns in the second quarter, and that was after Kenjon Barner had amassed 215 total yards and five touchdowns in the game's first 20 minutes.

That was 59-0 at the half. This could be worse.

In all honesty, the Ducks could win this game by 100 if they chose to. They won't.

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