November is right around the corner, and as hard as that may be to believe, the college football season is already more than half over. But before we turn our calendars, the Oregon Ducks have a chance to turn the corner on their season tonight when they travel to Arizona State (7:30 p.m. PST on ESPN).
Both the Ducks and the Sun Devils are coming off bye weeks, so each team has had some extra time to prepare for the showdown tonight. This, like every week, is a must win for the Ducks if they are to keep their long-shot Pac-12 title hopes alive. So without further a due, here is what, and who, to root for and against during this weekend.
To begin, I’m rooting for the big play to burn ASU repeatedly. During the Washington game, the Duck offense once again was able to throw the ball downfield with some consistency.
Having Darren Carrington back helped tremendously, as he showed why he was the most explosive Oregon receiver last year, and essentially picked up right where he left off before his suspension.
I mentioned it last week, but Carrington could be the big-play catalyst the Ducks’ desperately needed.
With a healthy Vernon Adams, we should see a healthy dose of the deep ball in this matchup — especially if Arizona State blitzes like they usually do. When Oregon can hit big plays, things usually go well for the Ducks.
Speaking of the blitz, let’s root for a heavy dose of Sun Devil blitzes tonight. Why? With a spread offense like Oregon, having fewer defenders in open space will only benefit the Ducks offensively.
Sure a blitz can increase the pressure on the quarterback and also disrupt running lanes, but with a team as fast and shifty as Oregon, I believe a blitz plays right into our offensive strengths.
There will be a few series in which the ASU defense gets the better of the Ducks; but over an entire game, a blitz heavy defense is venerable to big plays downfield.
If Oregon can execute quick passing plays, a slant or screen for example, the receiver could have extra room to run with defenders on the blitz and out of coverage. I can see it now: Carrington or Bralon Addison on a quick slant, breaking a tackle and there is no one in the open field to stop them.
In fact, Adams seems to be planning on taking advantage of the blitz-heavy Sun Devils. “I like teams that blitz. It gives you a lot of one-on-one opportunities.” I agree, time for the Ducks to attack.
Also, the Ducks should be able to run the ball on the Sun Devils due to their inside-outside attack. In Arizona State’s last game against Utah, runningback Devontae Booker ran for 118 yards and two scores.
However, aside from quarterback Travis Wilson, no other Utah player carried the ball. I think it’s a safe bet that the Ducks will spread out their carries more than Utah did.
Also, something else to consider, the Ducks have both power inside with Royce Freeman, and explosiveness outside in space with Taj Griffin; having to deal with both might be problematic for the Sun Devil Defense.
I will be rooting against a one-dimensional offensive attack from the Ducks. If Oregon is going to win, their offense will have to use variety, because I don’t believe ASU can consistently adapt to all the ways the Ducks can hurt them.
Either the Ducks can win back-to-back games for the first time this season, or they can lose once again and regress to where they were three weeks ago. I will always have faith in our Ducks’ ability to improve and prove doubters wrong. Today could be the turning point for the 2015 Oregon Duck football team. Go Ducks!
Top Photo by John Sperry