Friday, February 24, 2017
Oregon Offense vs. California Defense
Oregon runs a balanced attack, but look for offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to show a greater commitment to the ground game this week. Consistently handing the ball off gives the Ducks the best opportunity to control the clock, which will effectively keep Cal's explosive offensive on the sidelines and keep the crowd out of the game. More importantly, Oregon should have success moving the ball on the ground. The Ducks have one of the most underrated backfields in the nation, as Jonathan Stewart is averaging 7.9 yards and Jeremiah Johnson is averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Both backs are excellent fits for Crowton's scheme because they are strong runners that effectively bring their own blocks and they have the speed to exploit the vertical seams Crowton's spread sets create. It doesn't hurt that the offensive line is doing an excellent job of getting into position and sustaining blocks either. Guards Josh Tschirgi and Palauni Ma Sun are powerful drive blockers capable of neutralizing tackles Brandon Mebane and Matt Malele. That will allow OC Enoka Lucas to release up to the second level, and he takes excellent angles to his assignments. While MLB Desmond Bishop is a sound tackler who is relentless in pursuit, Lucas will force him to consistently shed blocks so Oregon's backs should be productive when they run inside. It's also important to note that QB Dennis Dixon has excellent mobility and is a threat to run, especially in the red zone. Don't be surprised to see Crowton roll him out of the pocket and give him the option to throw or run when Oregon gets close to the goal line.
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