Oregon at Stanford
Saturday, Nov. 12, 12:30 PM (PST)
Stanford 35, Oregon 27
Oregon travels to Stanford with both teams probably sporting 8-1 records overall. This game will determine the winner of the Pac-12 North. Oregon opened the season ranked No. 3 in the AP poll while Stanford came in at No. 7.
Auburn exposed Oregon’s offensive weakness against a strong defensive line and their defensive weakness against a short passing game and strong running attacks. LSU will do the same on Sept. 3.
As far as intangibles go, Oregon has the better coaching staff, whereas Stanford’s coaching staff has been revamped. There has been some continuity in the Stanford coaching turnover since much of the hiring was from within.
This will ease the coaching transition. In addition, their schemes will not be changing. Stanford will have home-field advantage.
Oregon’s off-the-field problems will continue, and will be a distraction, no matter what Chip Kelly or Oregon fans say. Now we know Darron Thomas is a stoner (unless you want to believe he doesn’t inhale while smoking-out in cars speeding at 118 mph with his teammates), and this infers questionable integrity and leadership ability.
More importantly, his decision-making ability is retarded by marijuana (just a fact). He may end up like Jeremiah Masoli, who was a great quarterback for Oregon, for some time, but he was also a stoner and lacked good decision-making ability. We have not heard the last of the existing problems, or future problems, for Oregon.
Leadership could be a question on Oregon’s team (other than the questionable integrity of Darron Thomas). Oregon did lose 21 seniors from last year's team. Scholarship juniors and seniors are hard to find on the practice field.
There are only 11 seniors on scholarship; however, there are 69 freshmen and sophomores on scholarship for the 2011 team. Leadership is not a question on Stanford.
Cornerback Cliff Harris will be back for the Ducks (assuming charges are dropped and there is not an NCAA investigation on the use of the vehicle). Oregon’s defensive line losses (DT Brandon Bair, DT Zac Clark, and DE Kenny Rowe), and linebacker losses of Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger, will impact the team.
The losses of CB Talmadge Jackson III (and suspension of Cliff Harris) hurt the secondary. There are quite a few causes for concern on Oregon’s team.
Stanford brings the best quarterback in college football to this meeting, as well as some of the best running backs in the Pac-12 (Stepfan Taylor, Anthony Wilkerson, Jeremy Stewart, and Tyler Gaffney). Fullback Owen Marecic’s replacement, Ryan Hewitt, played in all 13 games last year and the Cardinal won’t miss a beat with Ryan.
“Hewitt, coming into spring, surprised a lot of fans,” Stepfan Taylor said. “Inside the team, we knew that he was just as good as Marecic…Hewitt came in as a tight end and is stepping up in the fullback position, where he has to go head to head against linemen and linebackers every time. That shows he loves the game.”
Stanford’s running game will be hard for Oregon to stop.
But Stanford’s strength will be quarterback Andrew Luck’s passing game. Especially to this three big tight end targets Coby Fleener, Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz. These three are the best tight ends in the Pac-12 and will all be playing on Sundays.
In addition to them, wide receiver Chris Owusu returns and will be complemented by senior Griff Whalen. Yes, another Whalen will be giving Stanford opponents fits.
Stanford’s offensive line will be playing better together anchored by two of the best linemen in the Pac-12. LT Jonathan Martin and RG David DeCastro will be first-round picks in the NFL.
Center Sam Schwartzstein, LG Kevin Danser, and RT Tyler Mabry will progress to help form one of the best offensive lines in the Pac-12 (along with USC and Cal). Stanford will pass at will on Oregon.
The Ducks return quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James on offense. They had several good backup running backs, but Lache Seastrunk announced that he is transferring in mid-August (recall he is related to the "Lyles/NCAA/Oregon" issue).
The Ducks will have to get by with tight end David Paulson after losing backup Curtis White and Brandon Williams to injuries. The Ducks will be very thin at tight end. Injuries had plagues the Ducks during fall camp and deteriorated their depth.
Those injuries included two wide receivers Blake Cantu and Josh Huff, which is another position that the Ducks were thin at. Last year’s senior wide receiver starters D.J. Davis and Jeff Maehl, graduated. The receiving corps will be a sore spot for Oregon all year long.
Oregon is replacing three starters on the offensive line. They are LT Bo Thran, center Jordan Holmes, and RT C.E. Kaiser. Additionally, the backup center Max Forer graduated and Oregon lost two additional offensive linemen to medical retirement.
Center is the position that is giving Oregon the most trouble with early in the season, but it is assumed that these problems will be worked out by this November game.
Stanford has to replace a few linebackers and a few linemen this year, almost as many as Oregon. Stanford will be replacing nose tackle Sione Fua, DE Brian Bulcke, OLB Thomas Keiser and ILB Owen Marecic.
Just like Oregon, the replacements have seen quite a bit of playing time, but as I have said about Oregon, new guys are new guys, and Stanford’s front seven has mostly new guys.
Oregon’s running game will be hard for Stanford to stop. Oregon’s passing game out of the backfield will be strong, but their downfield passing game to wide outs and tight ends will see a drop off this year.
Both teams have issues on defense. Oregon's issues are bigger. Both teams have issues on offense. Oregon's issues are bigger. Only one team is having a bunch of off-the-field issues this year that will continue to manifest themselves in the form of losses (just like quietly losing five-star RB Lache Seastrunk out the back door). Only one team will win and it won't be Oregon.