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Oregon Ducks Football: 5 Keys to Beating Colorado

Alex Heining Editorials

Our Oregon Ducks put their web-footed stamp on week three in a huge way by absolutely dominating Hawaii in Autzen. Now, they turn the corner to “America’s Team,” and we’re not talking about the Dallas Cowboys. Colorado football has emerged as the fan favorite for a 30 for 30 with the all-time great NFL superstar Deion Sanders leading the way.

While the Ducks are favored currently by three scores, there’s ample room for the Buffs’ to make their own run in Autzen, and keep their 3-game win streak alive. Even Mr. FishDuck enjoys his crazy time while contemplating the large line on the Ducks this Saturday.

Even if they do find a way to cover the spread, though, we’re just looking for a win against Colorado. Whether it’s by 7, or 71 (as we learned from week one, this is now possible) here are five keys to Oregon grabbing their next victory this week.

5: Take Advantage of Lacking Defensive Adjustments

Against CSU, Colorado was completely ineffective on defense. They tried switching up zone coverages, pivoted to man coverage late, but just weren’t able to get many stops all game against the less talented Colorado State program. A handful of turnovers made the game look a bit better from the box score defensively, but there’s a lot that Oregon should be able to take advantage of from the get-go that the Rams were able to accomplish a week ago.

CSU didn’t change up their offensive game-plan much, and short, over-the-middle routes were doing exceptionally well. If it weren’t for a string of turnovers that kept the Buffs’ in this game, the Ducks might have been facing an unranked Buffs team this week.

However, Colorado did find a way to win, as all good teams do. If Oregon’s able to limit turnovers on offense and stay on track in the passing game, they should dominate this matchup. Travis Hunter unfortunately will be missing this game, and while we’d love to see our Ducks compete with one of the best players in the country, expect an even more dominant performance from the Oregon offense against a Colorado defense missing their superstar cornerback (wishing a speedy recovery to one of college football’s greatest in the 2023 season).

Colorado Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR - Deion Sanders

Sanders has been special in 2023 as a runner, passer, and complete playmaker – Photo By AllProSports Twitter

4: Get Sanders Off His Game Early, Keep Bo on His

It’s no secret that Colorado has massively improved their recruiting over just one offseason with Deion Sanders taking over the program. Now, his son Shedeur Sanders leads the Buffs into hostile territory to try and upset a heavily favored Oregon squad. Mechanics are one of the few areas Sanders could really improve on in his game, and it’s something the Ducks are going to have to antagonize early. He’s clutch, has excellent mobility, and can often be dominant in precision, tight-window throws. If Oregon’s front is able to get home, though, and not allow him to get outside of the pocket as he so often does, we’ve seen mistakes happen for Sanders.

Bo Nix is going to have to go toe-to-toe with Sanders, as he’s coming off a three-touchdown performance himself. However, he’ll have his work cut out for him against the Buffs even with Hunter expected to be out of the lineup.

In the middle of the first quarter last week, Shedeur’s brother Shilo Sanders snagged an 80-yard pick six that kickstarted a competitive game that came down to the wire. Together, both brothers should be x-factors on Saturday, but for the wrong reasons. Let’s see Bo Nix protect the football, outduel one of the PAC-12’s best passers, and beat the Buffs on the ground as well.

3: Dominate Time of Possession

Of course, fourth quarters win football games. But possessing the ball is a great way to do that, too. Grabbing a lead early will be crucial for the Ducks to win down the stretch and run the clock in dominant fashion. Bucky Irving, Jordan James, and Noah Whittington all split their touches to have a versatile and effective rushing attack against Hawaii. Expect a bit more favor towards Irving this week, but another 150+ yards in rushing on Saturday.

Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Oregon’s defense has been rallying around dominant defensive line play the past couple of weeks – Photo By Eric Evans

2: Own the Line of Scrimmage

The line of scrimmage has been up and down for the Ducks week to week. There was little-to-no push from the interior against Texas Tech on offense, while the pressure on the opposite side of the ball has only improved since that meeting. A heavy dose of dominant play from both groups should really separate this squad from Colorado over the course of a 60-minute game. Oregon’s trenches have the manpower to start demoralizing whatever’s left of the Buffs’ defensive front by the second half.

Brandon Dorlus is looking more and more like a 1st-round caliber player in each game of the 2023 campaign, and our Oregon defense couldn’t need it more. If there was a game for him to completely take over, it’s this Saturday’s matchup with the PAC’s most dynamic quarterback not named Caleb Williams.

Oregon vs Hawaii Football - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Trikweze Bridges and co. have been clutch in the secondary – Photo by Eric Evans

1: Continue Takeaway Tidal Wave

Now that this team has started reeling in takeaways, players like Trikweze Bridges and Khyree Jackson have been stepping up in the secondary to generate momentum, and the defensive line is flourishing as a result. Force some turnovers from poor ball security on Saturday, and expect the Ducks to jump out to a huge lead fast.

Overall, Oregon’s got a great shot to come out with a win over Colorado, and really kick the toughest stretch of their season into gear. Without looking ahead, let’s see these Ducks give Colorado a rain-free welcome to Autzen in 2023, and send the storybook team home with their first loss of the year.

Anyway, enough from me Oregon fans. What do you think? How will the Ducks fair against a highly-touted Colorado squad? Will the Sanders family crush the Ducks’ season, or will Nix and Lanning continue the path to a PAC-12 Championship? Let us know in the FishDuck Forum with decorum.

Go Ducks!

Alex Heining
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Eric Evans

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