Jahvid Best is the number one halfback in the nation, and is currently sitting in second place for the Heisman according to ESPN.
He's seriously called "The Best", and for good reason...he's tore it up against every opponent so far. The only half-worthy team they've played, Minnesota, he scored five touchdowns for the Golden Bears.
That's right, he ran it in for 30 points. That's scary.
So far this year he has 53 carries for 412 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Cal has also played Eastern Washington and Maryland thus far.
It's mighty impressive, and he'll be a challenge to contain. Best has an elusive style of running and is super fast, agile, and has catching ability too.
Jahvid Best will be the hardest player Oregon has had to contain thus far, and may be of the whole season. It'll prove quite the challenge.
The question that remains: Is Oregon up to that challenge?
Oregon's defense is also mightily impressive. We have a hardcore schedule this year playing two Top 25 teams in the first three weeks, and the defense has what's stood out so far.
Even in the game at Boise St, our defense was great. Kellen Moore played well, but the defense still held them up quite well. Blount aside, they lost by less then two touchdowns. That's pretty good considering what a mess they were.
Against Purdue, the defense won the game, I don't care what you say. Say it was the running game, Masoli, anything you want...it was the defense that prevented a loss.
And then there is the Utah game. We held them quite well until some offensive mistakes led to them catching up. People have bashed the passing game enough, and few are seeing the positives in our defense.
Now we'll take a look at the five best/most valuable players on the Ducks defense.
Spencer Paysinger (SSL)
He switched from WR to LB last year. He got 13 tackles against Utah and broke up two passes. Paysinger also recovered a fumble and recorded a tackle for a loss against Boise St.
He's the third leading tackler on our team, and with his height and speed he's proved himself a great threat on defense.
Walter Thurmond III (CB)
His name alone can strike fear in opposing teams. He's, in my opinion, the MVP of the Ducks football team so far this year.
He's the biggest defensive playmaker we have for sure. He racks up close to 10 tackles a game, and has big time interceptions.
He had nine tackles against the Broncos week one, and had close more than that against Purdue.
He's had three interceptions for a touchdown, which ties the career record for Oregon. Thurmond has 12 interceptions total throughout his career.
In addition to being amazing on defense, he's also a great for special teams. The very first play for the Ducks against Utah was a 78 yard punt return for a Touchdown.
He's ranked 15th nationally in punt return yards, and 17th on kick returns.
As I said before, offenses fear the man. Thurmond the third is a valuable, valuable piece to our defense, and he'll be instrumental in stopping Best.
Eddie Pleasant (SSL)
Pleasant, a sophomore Linebacker, made a huge impression last year, and has continued to live up to his reputation.
He recorded nine tackles against Boise St, and recovered a fumble. He had five tackles against Purdue, and got his first interception against Utah last Saturday.
Pleasant has been playing very...pleasantly lately. He's impressed me, and him only being a sophomore, we have him for potentially two more years after this.
I think he'll do good against Cal, and might prove handy being the fastest Linebacker on our team in getting into the backfield quickly.
Brandon Bair (DT)
Bair is a beast. He's recorded 12 tackles so far this year, and blocked a punt against Utah. He made a lot of key plays in stopping the rush and got to the Quarterback a number of times.
If he can get through the offensive line and explode into the backfield, Kevin Riley and co. could be in for a long day.
He's our best defensive lineman I feel, and he needs to play his best if we're going to contain the Cal offense.
T.J. Ward (FS)
Ward was our leading tackler last year. He dominated in Boise St, getting 11 tackles during the first half alone. Ward left the game with an ankle injury that caused him to miss the Purdue and Utah games.
If he's healthy enough (which he most likely will be), he'll be another key player in stopping Best.
But mostly against the pass, as he's a safety. Cal has some great wide outs, and players like Thurmond and TJ will need to have excellent playmaking and shut their the offense.
Other than the five mentioned, we have a lot of above average defensive players. The main thing is to contain Best. We all know that.
If we can hamper Best's run early and force Tedford to go with Riley and air it out more, we have Paysinger, Thurmond, Ward, as well as CB Talmadge Jackson back there to stop the pass.
Cal played pretty conservative against Minnesota, the only way they stayed in the game so long. We can build on that.
We have a dangerous punt returner, and a great running back in LaMichael James. By shutting down Best and forcing them into 4th down situations, getting the ball to them, we'll win the game.
My prediction is that if Best is held to under 100 yards, we'll win. If not, and he gets breakout runs and touchdowns...it could be Oregon who's in for a long day.
It really is Best Vs. the Oregon defense this Saturday. In any case, it'll be a great game at the Autzen Zoo.
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