EDGE: Oregon offense too much to slow down

Published On:
Friday, November 13, 2009
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Quarterback

Could the 11 beings that compose Oregon’s offense actually be androids sent from the future to discipline Pac-10 defenses?

If so, junior Jeremiah Masoli is the terminator, a sub 6-footer who squats nearly 500 pounds. He is hands-on in the shotgun, where he spreads short-range blasts — both as a runner and passer.


ASU vs. Oregon preview, State Press Television

Don’t try to cheat up on Masoli, though – UO averages more than 12 yards per completion for a reason.

True freshman Brock Osweiler will get his first career start for the Sun Devils. Eugene, with its Ducks coming off a season-changing loss, will not be an incubator.

Expect the young quarterback to earn some tail feathers on Saturday.

EDGE: Oregon

Running back

The Ducks lead the conference and are ninth in the nation in rushing, and Masoli is just a part of it.

Redshirt freshman LaMichael James is likely a future Heisman candidate in the mold of Jahvid Best. James is second in the conference in rushing at about 116 yards per game.

Who carries the load for ASU this week? It could be senior Dimitri Nance. It could be freshman Cameron Marshall. It won’t be sophomore Ryan Bass, suspended indefinitely by coach Dennis Erickson.

EDGE: Oregon

Wide Receiver/Tight End

More evidence of Oregon’s uncanny balance and explosiveness: seven Duck receivers have double-digit receptions and eight have catches of at least 20 yards. Senior tight end Ed Dickson leads the way with 34 grabs.

During the last few weeks at ASU practices, men with analytical devices have appeared on the sideline. Presumably, these scouts have been sent on a mission to observe the inexplicable — a leather- attracting field that has developed around senior wide receiver Chris McGaha’s hands. NFL scouts also have an eye on senior Kyle Williams, who, along with McGaha, will likely be on the verge of getting drafted on the first day of the 2010 NFL draft.

ASU’s short, ball-control passing game will have to find a way to strike for some big plays to keep up with the Ducks.

Edge: Oregon

Offensive line

Oregon has an athletic, agile and conditioned offensive line that gives its runners 5.4 yards per carry and has allowed just 12 sacks on the season.

Senior center Thomas Altieri should be back in the lineup, after missing two games with a knee injury, moving sophomore Garth Gerhart back to his more natural position at guard.

The Sun Devil offensive line had difficulties holding up against USC once ASU became one-dimensional late.

There’s a reason ground control workers wear headsets to coordinate air traffic.

How ASU deals with the decibels will have great effect on what should be a damage-control game plan. Osweiler’s tendency to fixate on the rush may do little to help matters should the offensive line signals get confused.

EDGE: Oregon

Defensive line

While Oregon struggled mightily up front against Stanford, it has played much behind the home crowd, as evidenced by the unit’s swarming attack on USC two weeks ago.

The Ducks have 25 sacks on the season, and, despite a 200-plus-yard day from Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, have allowed opponent’s less than 3.5 yards per carry.

Junior Kenny Rowe, who transitioned from linebacker, leads the way with seven sacks on the year.

Senior defensive end Dexter Davis recorded a sack and had a handful of pressures last week.

The Sun Devil defensive line did more than its share last week against a solid Pac-10 offense in USC.

If ASU can hang in long enough on the second and third levels of the defense, expect the front four to win the majority of battles. The qualifier will be difficult to attain.

EDGE: ASU

Linebacker

The Ducks have blitzing tendencies and are particularly effective in Eugene. Casey Matthews, son of NFL Hall of Famer Clay Mathews and brother of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, leads the Ducks linebacker corps in tackles.

ASU true freshman middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict appeared to have a sub-standard performance against USC, over-pursuing running plays, missing tackles and getting beat in coverage. That doesn’t bode well against an Oregon attack that makes other Pac-10 offenses look like their drawing up plays in the dirt. Expect heavy time from the three wise men—seniors Mike Nixon, Travis Goethel and Gerald Munns.

EDGE: ASU

Secondary

Not a stat that supports Oregon’s defensive prowess: The Ducks two leading tacklers are safety John Boyett and cornerback Javes Lewis.

The two have combined for four interceptions and 121 tackles. The Ducks have 11 interceptions and 54 pass-break-ups on the year, but they were torched by Stanford freshman Andrew Luck.

Sophomore safety Clint Floyd and true freshman Deveron Carr combined for the best secondary performance of the season.

Considering the Sun Devils will lose seniors Ryan McFoy and Pierre Singfield after this year and have already lost senior Terell Carr to suspension and junior Omar Bolden to a season-ending knee-injury, ASU may be better prepared for the future on the back-end than most believed.

Both Floyd and Deveron Carr demonstrated an upside that may actually help ASU improve the perceived soft spot of the Sun-Devil defense.

Edge: Oregon

Special teams

Juniors Trevor Hankins and Thomas Weber may be the best punter and kicker combination in college football, which in this match-up is sort of like saying ASU has cooler uniforms.

No offense to Nike, but the next logical step for those fashionistas is hand-gluing duck-feathers; the ‘uni’ edge for ASU remains a truism.

Oregon has three special team touchdown returns on the season and kicker Morgan Flint has made 10 of 12 attempts.

Edge: ASU

Overall Edge: Oregon