With less than one month until the start of the season, fans and alumni of the Ducks are getting excited for what could be a great year for University of Oregon football. The Ducks luck out, having most of their big games in the hostile Autzen Stadium this fall, but one big game on the road looms. Here is an in-depth preview of the matchup with the Boise State Broncos.
Last year, Boise State picked apart the Ducks in all facets of the game. The Broncos finished with 424 yards of total offense and quarterback Kellen Moore was exceptional, completing 24-36 passes and three touchdowns.
Oregon was able to slow running back Ian Johnson, but Broncos coach Chris Peterson noticed how hard the Ducks were biting on the play action fake and took full advantage.
Looking back, it was a great learning experience for the Ducks. They had to play through adversity after quarterback Jeremiah Masoli went out with a concussion, and led by freshman Darron Thomas, almost pulled off a spectacular comeback in the fourth quarter.
This year, the Ducks must travel to the smurf turf, and there are many signs that the team is ready. Last week, when Chip Kelly was asked if he was tracking the amount of days left until opening night, he almost instantaneously said, “38 days.”
Boise State is returning a player at each position with some starting experience. Kellen Moore is only a sophomore and is poised for another big year. But without Ian Johnson, the Ducks will key more on a Boise State passing attack and Moore who had a school record completion percentage of over 69 percent last fall.
Peterson is a former Oregon assistant so he knew how things ran under former Duck coach Mike Bellotti. With a new man at the helm in Chip Kelly, he can expect some different things from a team he once knew. For instance, Bellotti was too stubborn last season when he refused to put Darron Thomas in the game after Masoli went down. Once he put him in, Thomas threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Boise State’s defense is almost completely intact from a unit that allowed only 17 touchdowns last fall. The linebackers are a talented group and along with the defensive ends will be under attack all day from one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Preseason All-American Kyle Wilson will try and contain the speed of wide receivers Jeff Maehl and Jamere Holland which will be no easy task.
Duck fans wish Oregon could have played that game over again with Masoli healthy the entire game, and here is their chance. The game may be in Boise, but the Ducks travel well, so I would not be surprised to see 7,000-8,000 Duck fans in attendance.
Oregon is better on offense than the Broncos are on defense. I would give Boise’s offense a slight edge over the Oregon defense. The Oregon field goal unit missed two field goals that would have made up the difference in the final score last year, so this is an area to keep an eye on.
If Boise State can move the ball effortlessly on the Duck defense, it will be a long day for the men in green and yellow. Jeremy Avery and the Bronco rushing attack are key.
If they cannot move the ball on the ground by having their offensive line dominate the four down defenders, Nick Alliotti will focus his linebackers to more of a zone look to confuse Moore. Moore may have a year of experience, but playing the likes of San Jose State and Idaho week in and week out does not give you a true sense of the level of talent at a BCS conference school.
If Oregon can dominate the line of scrimmage, they will win this game. The Ducks overlooked Boise last fall and the Broncos gave it to them for three quarters.
Look for the impact T.J. Ward and Spencer Paysinger can make in this game. If Paysinger shuts down the run, Duck fans will enjoy watching T.J. Ward fly all over the field in his true headhunter fashion.
Boise will come in pumped up, as they are calling this the biggest home game in program history, but don’t count out the Ducks who want revenge for a game they let get away last year.
Will Chip Kelly’s first head coaching experience set the tone for a BCS run? Or will Boise State take a huge step toward an undefeated season and an at-large berth in the BCS? Tune in at 7:15 PM, September 3 on ESPN for what is sure to be one of the best early-season games of the year.
Next Week: Big Game Preview #2: California