Oregon Football: 7 Things To Watch When the Ducks Head to Arizona
After finishing up their out of conference schedule, the Oregon Ducks will head to the desert to start their first conference schedule in the newly formed Pac-12.
With Arizona falling apart and fast and Oregon seemingly gaining some stability on both sides of the ball, this will be an interesting and extremely important game for both teams.
Here is a look at seven things to keep your eyes on during this Pac-12 showdown.
Cliff Harris Is Back
Yes I know, Cliff Harris has been back since the game against Nevada but Harris has seen very little game action and has done so in cleanup duty.
In this game, Oregon is going up against an outstanding combination of Nick Foles to Juron Criner and will need Harris on the field.
If Harris does get in the game early and can play up to his performance from last year, the Ducks should be able to limit the passing attack from Arizona.
David Paulson Makes an Impact
The one thing the Ducks counted on to help them transition from losing a couple of great starting wide receivers was the play of tight end David Paulson.
So far through three games, Paulson has been a non-factor but I expect that to change significantly this Saturday.
Look for the Ducks and Darron Thomas to get the ball to Paulson early, which should loosen up the secondary for some big plays in the second half.
Scoring and Lots of It
When these two teams have gotten together recently, the football field becomes a track as both teams have gone running up and down it scoring points.
For Arizona, Criner and Foles will be hard to slow down but the good news for the Ducks is the Wildcats are still working out offensive line issues of their own and do not have a running back that they will have to key on.
On the other side of the ball, Oregon has played the past two weeks at home, so it will be interesting to see how they react to their first true road game of the year.
In every game that Oregon has played this year, De'Anthony Thomas has been the X factor one way or the other.
After getting his ball control issues under control over the last two games, it has become clear that Thomas can come in and give James a breather without the Ducks offense missing a beat.
If the Ducks and Coach Kelly can continue to find ways to get Thomas in space, it could be a long night for Arizona.
Ducks Come out Throwing
Since the LSU game, Duck fans have seen Darron Thomas continue to get more and more comfortable behind his new offensive line and truly settle in during the early parts of games.
Against Arizona, Thomas will come out throwing and I would think the Ducks will look to run short passes to help Thomas get the pregame excitement under control and allow him to gain some confidence.
If Thomas can get himself in rhythm early, he could be in for a big night.
Game Is on the Defensive Line
For both teams, the key to this game comes down to the plays being made on the defensive lines.
The Ducks know that if they can put some heat on Foles and force him to throw earlier then he may want to or even sack him, they can control the Wildcats offense.
For Arizona, pressure on the Ducks offensive line could create issues in the read-option run game as well as the passing game. It will be imperative for the Ducks offensive line to have its best game to date.
An Oregon Win
While playing a conference road game is never easy, Oregon has the talent and depth to get the job done at Arizona.
Arizona has struggled early in the season with replacing all of the starters on its offensive line, and replacing three starters along the defensive line has not been easy either.
Much like last year, this game could turn into a shootout.
Oregon 52, Arizona 31