This is the week. Saturday, the Ducks will face their biggest trial so far this season: Stanford. It would be a mistake for Oregon to treat this as a typical game, as the Ducks are still in the chase for the National Championship. The Ducks are favored again this year, as they were last year. So, what would Stanford love to do this week (and every week, if it could)? That’s right; the Cardinal’s main focus is to knock Oregon off the championship path. The Ducks will truly need to Win the Day on both sides of the ball, and that starts on offense with Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost leading the assault.
Caleb Couturie of FishDuck.com interviewed Frost at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex this week.
When asked what he learned from playing Stanford the past two years and what he hopes to bring on Saturday that will be effective in Oregon’s favor, Frost strongly emphasized, “The biggest thing is to take advantage of every drive we get.” Stanford is ranked second in total defense nationally, only allowing its opponents an average of 141.6 rushing yards per game. This stat immediately raises a red flag for Oregon. The Ducks love to run, employing a three-headed monster backfield led by freshman phenomenon Royce Freeman. Frost already has his hands full coming into this week with Stanford’s defense, and he will need to devise a strategy to allow Oregon’s well-recognized run game to be dynamic.
Frost was asked about the possibility of a mental or psychological factor affecting the team’s overall performance over the past two years, and if there is anything the coaches are doing this year to address that factor. He explained that one of the biggest mistakes the Ducks made last year was, “putting too much focus on the game.” He then brought up the notion that any time the team faces a tough team like Stanford, “guys’ emotions will be high.”
Something Oregon doesn’t want is to have its players stressed out or feeling pressured about the upcoming week. Essentially, Oregon will treat the match-up as a typical game, and should follow the normal process in preparing for it. However, let’s be real here — it’s a big game and every single member of that team knows what a win against Stanford would mean.
With the first-ever College Football Playoff looming, the Ducks have a strong opportunity to make it in. One of the only true threats remaining in their path is Stanford. Ultimately, this is a game I believe the Ducks should (finally) win. One thing is for certain, however; if the Cardinal takes control of the game early, the Ducks’ chances of a national title will almost certainly be crushed. As Duck fans, the one thing we are afraid of is history repeating itself. Let’s hope it doesn’t this Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck