Oregon vs Missouri State: 5 Things to Watch
Saturday's game at Autzen is going to be very long and pretty boring. Since this game will be such a blowout, I thought it might be a good idea to point out some things to keep an eye on besides the cheerleaders and how many push-ups the Duck does.
Remember that even though there have been FCS schools that have beat FBS schools, those were when programs were down or just not that good. This one will be a blowout from the opening kickoff.
1. Darron Thomas' Accuracy
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One of the several knocks on the Ducks during the LSU game was Thomas' accuracy compared to last season. He went 31 of 54 for only 240 yards, which is only 57.4 percent. His longest pass was for 18 yards.
I'm not saying he started to air it out against Nevada because the play-making ability of the the receivers (or running backs playing receiver) really had a lot to do with his long plays. Still, he looked much better against Nevada. 13 of 19 is 68.4 percent, and his 295 yards were more like Thomas, but the six touchdowns really made a statement. He tied a few past Oregon quarterbacks for that record and one was the beloved Joey Harrington.
This weekend, Thomas should look the same as he did against Nevada. It would be nice to see him get the completion percentage up over 70 percent. It will also be interesting to see if he has a chance to pass for seven touchdowns and break the record.
2. What Running Back Combonations Will Be Used?
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Kenjon Barner was out last week and is said to still be nursing an ankle injury. He did practice this week, though. It is conceivable that Kelly uses the second half of this game to get Barner some reps without putting him in too much of harm's way.
Last week's duo of LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas was a huge success. I expect to see this duo for the first two quarters. Keep an eye out for how much one is used over the other. It could be signs of things to come.
3. A Cliff Harris Sighting?
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How much will we see of Cliff Harris? Last week he was released from his suspension and suited up, but barely played in garbage time.
There is already word that LaMichael James will continue to run back kicks. If that is so, Harris must still be in coach Chip Kelly's dog house.
Keep an eye on Harris throughout the game. If Kelly starts him on defense then he will be out of the dog house. If not, then this might be a long season for Harris.
4. The Maturation of Colt Lyerla
Watching Colt Lyerla against Nevada, it was hard to say he was a freshman. By far and away his body is already set for college football. On top of that, he picked up what he needed from the playbook so far, which he proved in scoring his first college touchdown.
This week will be a good test to see how much more he gets involved in the offense. Chemistry between Darron Thomas and Lyerla will be key as we hit the Pac-12 schedule. Thomas needs to become confident that anytime he needs a quick check-down Lyerla will be there.
1. Another Long Run of Playtime for Bryan Bennett
After Nate Costa went down last season, the coaching staff sweated out every hit on Darron Thomas. Sitting on the sideline was a true freshman with no experience whom the coaching staff wanted to red-shirt. Luckily, it worked out.
Now a red-shirt freshman, Bennett got his first game snaps for an extended period of time last week. He played from halfway through the third quarter on to the game's end. It started out choppy, but by the end of the fourth quarter he looked comfortable and very skilled.
Bennett should get that type of run this week. Look to see if he can take more large steps forward in running and controlling the offense. Also, it will be interesting to see if Kelly lets him unleash that canon of an arm he's got.