Photo by Andrew Giesemann
Oregon Football

Tale of the Tape: Offense

September 12, 2018

Oregon looks to go 3-0 on the season Saturday against the San Jose State Spartans. The Spartans come into this game still looking for their first win of the season, with losses to the Big Sky's UC Davis and Washington State.

In their 31-0 loss in Pullman, the Spartans’ offense didn’t look impressive at all, only managing to put up 109 total yards. In their first 12 possessions, they only had one drive last longer than six plays.

The Spartans’ star player is their sophomore quarterback, Montel Aaron. Against the Cougars, the 6-5 Aaron completed only 13 of 25 passes for 94 yards; more importantly, he was sacked 5 times.

Everything I read circles back to the idea that Aaron is the key to this team winning any games; without him, they are dead in the water. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the San Jose coaches choose to limit his playing time against the Ducks, or even bench him entirely.

Of course, an argument could made that playing Aaron against the Ducks' high caliber defense would give him some much needed experience. But I don’t know if the Spartans are willing to risk their season on this one game. Adding to the argument for benching Aaron, the Spartans really don’t have any weapons on offense for Aaron to utilize against the Ducks.

The Spartans’ run game really struggled against a Washington State line that swallowed up the running backs on almost every play. I don’t see how they can be much more effective against the Ducks’ line.

San Jose does have Josh Oliver, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end who went for 51 yards on 5 receptions against Washington State. He has shown the ability to punish cornerbacks who overlook him, so I expect him to get a majority of the targets.

To make things even worse, the Spartans also struggled with penalties in their first two games. As a result, the few big plays they got were called back.

On the other sideline, the Ducks' offense is really starting to come together.

Again last week, Oregon receivers dropped some passes early before grad transfers Tabari Hines and Kano Dillon helped get the Ducks moving through the air. Dillon Mitchell had a nice game, leading the group with 55 yards on only 2 receptions.

I expect to see an improved connection between Justin Herbert and his wide receivers in Week 3. I hope that the Ducks can use this last nonconference game to iron everything out.

Tony Brooks-James led the running backs with 107 yards on 21 carries against Portland State. But youngsters like CJ Verdell and Travis Dye also had impressive performances, with 106 and 58 yards respectively.

The Ducks are still trying to figure out life post-Royce Freeman, but I like the stable of guys that they have in the backfield. I am expecting another week of a multiple RBs putting up big numbers.

Herbert had another strong game with 250 yards (on 20 completions in 26 attempts) and 4 touchdowns. Herbert is getting stronger every game and showing that he can produce week after week.

I know he has yet to be tested because of the caliber of the opposition, but Herbert looks ready to compete in the Pac-12 regardless. Also encouraging, backup Braxton Burmeister completed all three of his passes for a total of 16 yards against the Vikings.

The offensive line had another solid performance and figures to continue to improve. Like Herbert, this position group has been competing in games where they should dominate. Still, these guys look big, mean, strong and also ready to compete in the Pac-12.

I like what I am seeing from this Oregon offense. The play-calling is great, and the individual players' performances have improved across the board. This team has grown a lot from last year, and it doesn’t look like we have seen their best yet.

In the end, picking this match-up is another no-brainer that has to favor Oregon. San Jose State really doesn’t have any weapons on offense, and on top of that, inconsistency will make it tough to produce points against a strong Oregon defense.

Tags: Football, Oregon
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