What a WIN last week. I think we all had a collective sigh of relief when Our Beloved Ducks showed up so big against BYU. I hope you enjoyed the victory week riding high and are ready for another exciting weekend ahead.
Now, it’s time to turn the page and gear up for a team that’s off to a 3-0 start in the Washington State Cougars. Let’s not forget: WSU has been a thorn in Oregon’s side over the past several years, and this matchup should not be taken lightly. But I think the momentum for our Ducks is high right now, and there’s a lot to be excited about for what this matchup says about how far our team’s come since week one.
Here are some crucial things to look for against the Cougars, and how Oregon can come out with another big win, jumping up to a three-game win streak on the season.
Key Points of Emphasis for This Ducks Team to Beat the Cougars
Dontae Manning, Trikweze Bridges Lead a Lockdown Secondary
While the secondary didn’t create any turnovers against BYU, they certainly earned their star power as highly-touted recruits. I loved how Manning played from the first snap on. He was great in transition and defended the deep pass well. Bridges also had a huge role in some deeper plays downfield that left BYU spooked early.
Additionally, even when BYU was in desperation mode, this unit stayed home and avoided giving up a ton of yardage on deep plays. While a late rally was forced through after some costly turnovers by Oregon’s offense, the defense stood firm and got the win. This also was against a BYU offense that does not turn the ball over often. Luckily for Manning’s group, WSU’s Cameron Ward is a bit more trigger-happy.
I expect to see a huge day from this back end in the secondary. If Manning can build on his play from last week, this unit should be elite by the end of the season.
Tight End Receiving Efficiency Continues
If Terrance Ferguson records another touchdown on his next catch, he will have a 50% scoring rate on catches this season with 10 catches and FIVE touchdowns. Needless to say, I absolutely LOVE what I’ve seen from the tight ends so far and while we don’t have particularly elite athleticism at the position, they are getting the job done week in and week out. Of Bo Nix’s seven passing touchdowns this season, five have been to tight ends. Hopefully, some other playmakers can find their way into the endzone, but feeding the hot hand is fine by me.
Brandon Dorlus and Co. Have to Get Home
Dorlus had a great game last week against BYU, and it’s exciting to see this defensive line showing signs of life. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Oregon’s season hinges on this defense’s ability to come together and become a force up front. We know our secondary can play strong enough without an elite pass rush, but with an elite pass rush? We could close out the season leading the PAC-12 in interceptions. As long as the defensive line keeps taking steps forward, I have high hopes for this group.
Expect to see Dorlus have another big game against the Cougars. I think the defense as a whole is finding its footing, and this is the game where it all comes together to the tune of multiple sacks and takeaways.
Bo Nix Doing It Himself
While quarterback health can reshape your whole season, I don’t mind Nix running in for touchdowns one bit. I’m all for whatever it takes to get this offense going. Nix has been a spark plug to this offense as of late and I’m currently loving his work on the ground.
Also: we saw what happened with Ty Thompson last week. Regardless of who was at fault for the terrible pair of series he was in for, we can’t be too excited about how he played. Nix may actually be the best chance we’ve got, not just the most experienced. Expect another solid day on the ground for him against the Cougars tomorrow.
Overall, I love the way this team is coming together. There’s a lot to work on still, but that win against BYU solidified my expectations for this team. Let’s see this team thrive again tomorrow against the Cougars, particularly in the secondary.
What do you think? How will Nix fair against this WSU team on a hot streak? Who gets a pick this weekend, Bridges or Manning? Will Dorlus lead the defensive line the rest of the way, or will someone else emerge and go on a tear?
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Craig Strobeck
Alex Heining is a third-year student at the University of Oregon. He’s working towards a bachelor of arts degree as an English major and media studies minor in journalism. Growing up in the Los Angeles area of southern California, Alex ended up a Duck through family ties, a quality football program, and the beautiful green of Lane County. Currently finishing his first science fiction novel, he wants to end up in the sports world of journalism on the west coast. Particularly, covering high school football, recruiting commits, and all things Ducks.
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