Oregon Ducks Football: 5 Areas the Ducks Need to Improve

Alex ShoemakerAnalyst IISeptember 5, 2011

Oregon Ducks Football: 5 Areas the Ducks Need to Improve

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    The game against LSU is in the past…and let’s keep it there.

    The Oregon Ducks now must get ready for a Nevada team coming off its best season in school history.

    Oregon needs to be careful and not pull a Virginia Tech from last season, and not overlook the Nevada Wolf Pack.

    Here are the five areas the Ducks need to improve before they play Nevada.

Conditioning

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    This probably seems ridiculous to most people who know about Oregon’s strength and conditioning program, but I saw too many Ducks go down with cramps against the LSU Tigers.

    Obviously opening weekend has more cramps then the other weeks, but Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James, Carson York, Darrion Weems and Anthony Gildon all had some sort of cramp related injury in the game.

    Those are just the players I noticed. The offensive line rotated in so many linemen I’m not sure who went down with what, when.

    Whether the Ducks need to hydrate better, practice in the heat, etc. The Ducks need to be prepared for hot temperature the next couple of weeks.

Penalties

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    Costly penalties killed the Ducks against the Tigers. The Ducks had numerous false starts, a leg whip, pass interference and personal foul penalties that combined for 95 yards on 12 penalties. If the Ducks don’t clean up those mistakes offensively and defensively, things could be gloomy.

Turnovers

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    What killed the Ducks in their opening game was turnovers.

    Oregon coughed the ball up three times on the ground and one on a poor decision by Darron Thomas that led to 20 LSU points.

    Oregon, and namely De’Anthony Thomas, needs to forget about the LSU game and come ready to play Saturday.

    Oregon will be better than most of their remaining opponents, and they can’t beat themselves.

Running the Ball

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    Since the Chip Kelly era began in 2007, the Ducks have been consistently near the top in the country in rushing each season.

    Oregon’s offense is built around the zone read, and losing that threat on the ground makes the Ducks one-dimensional.

    The Ducks offensive line looked atrocious against the powerful LSU front seven, but fortunately they won’t play another line that good the rest of the regular season.

    LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson need to bring their "A" game from here on out. And the line needs to block for them.

Special Teams

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    I really thought the Ducks had the best special teams unit in the country.

    The loss of Cliff Harris clearly affected the return game, as Kenjon Barner fumbled a punt (that was returned for an LSU TD) and De’Anthony Thomas fumbled a kickoff that directly led to another LSU TD.

    Kicker Rob Beard had a perfect day, completing 2-of-2 field goal attempts, but the return game needs to improve.

    If or when Harris returns, the Ducks will have another playmaker in the backfield.