Oregon heads into ASU’s hostile environment

Oregon sophomore running back De’Anthony Thomas carries the ball downfield during the Ducks’ 51-26 win over Washington State on Sept. 29. (Photo courtesy of Alex McDougall/ Emerald)

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks have played two ranked opponents, yet unranked ASU may be their biggest challenge this season.

The Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) are coming off a three-game winning streak, are averaging 40 points a game this season and have some major playmakers on offense and defense.

Oregon redshirt freshman tackle Tyler Johnstone said ASU will be the best team they have faced so far.

“That’s not saying anything against the teams that we have played so far,” Johnstone said. “Just looking at ASU’s defense and how they operate, they’re a great group of guys. They make plays. I think that it’s going to be really difficult.”

Up until this point in the season, the Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) have only played one game on the road. They won that game against Washington 51-21.

Now they face a new challenge on the road against ASU.

In the three games the Sun Devils have played in Tempe, they have out-scored opponents 145-27.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly said his team is excited for the challenge.

“It’s got a huge game feel to it,” Kelly said. “Our kids are fired up to go down and play. If you want to win in this league, you have got to win on the road,”

The game will feature an interesting battle between the two offenses.

Both offensive coordinators — Mark Helfrich of Oregon and Mike Norvell of ASU — have similar tendencies. Both coaches focus on one thing: Speed.

Oregon has established itself as the most up-tempo team in the conference, and probably the country.

Norvell and the ASU offense are an up-and-coming fast paced offensive force.

Being the faster offense is a focus for the Ducks.

Johnstone is confident in his offense’s abilities, and thinks ASU will not out-run Oregon’s quick attack.

“Our offense is the fastest offense,” Johnstone said. “The way we practice every week, we are so repetitive with our tempo that it is honestly natural for us.”

Defensively the Ducks will have to account for ASU redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly.

Kelly is coming off of his best career night against Colorado, throwing for over 300 yards and five touchdowns.

More impressively, Kelly only threw eight incompletions and has not thrown an interception in 99 pass attempts.

Oregon senior defensive end Dion Jordan said it would require a team effort to disrupt Kelly’s rhythm.

“We got to be disciplined on the defense,” Jordan said. “Every guy on the ‘D’ has got to understand what their job is and what their role is. As long as everybody is doing what their supposed to do, then we are going to have opportunities to make plays on the quarterback.”

With Sun Devil Stadium expected to be close to selling out, along with the buzz that has been created by the Black out, the Ducks know that they are going into a hostile environment.

“I’m very sure that the stadium and the fans are going to be excited about this game,” Jordan said. “ASU is going to come out and give us their best shot, but like I said, our guys are going to prepare for this up coming game and we’ll be ready when we’re down there.”


Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu.

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