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Oregon Football

Oregon Football Offensive Keys to Victory: Stanford

September 19, 2019

Before getting started on Oregon football’s offensive keys to victory against Stanford, credit is due. This credit is issued to ScoopDuck subscribers who accurately pointed out that safety Jevon Holland moves into the nickel position when the Ducks switch to that defensive formation. Verone McKinley III, meanwhile, drops back to safety. So props to the ScoopDuck subscribers who keep Oregon football coverage at its best, even when we writers drop the ball.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get back to Stanford.

As much as Stanford’s offense has given the Ducks fits in recent years, its defense hasn’t replicated those efforts. Disregarding Oregon’s embarrassing 49-7 loss last time the Ducks were on The Farm, Oregon’s offense has been able to handle the Cardinal defense relatively well the past decade. And it isn’t because Stanford doesn’t normally have a great defense, either.

While it is the Stanford offense that gets most of the attention, the Cardinal's defense has been almost as impressive over the past few years. Still, Oregon has been able to exploit Stanford’s weaknesses -- and other teams have taken notice.

After holding the less-than-explosive Northwestern Wildcats to seven points in the season opener, Stanford has surrendered 45 points in two consecutive games to teams that get the ball in the air and spread a defense out. For an Oregon offense that has built confidence in its wide receivers after three games, this bodes well.

Here are the offensive keys to victory for Oregon against Stanford.

Note Your Advantage

Through three games, Stanford has given up 280.3 yards per game through the air and a completion percentage of 68.9 percent. Both USC and UCF took advantage of Stanford’s weak secondary and made huge games through the air.

Remember when USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis was the second coming after his first college football game? Chalk that one up to an inept Stanford defense (combined with a little talent, too).

When Oregon heads to Palo Alto, offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo needs to press Oregon’s advantage. Don’t try and get cute with the run game, pistol formation or establishing the inside run. Throw the ball. Throw the ball early and throw it often. Allow quarterback Justin Herbert to connect with the now-proven weapons of Johnny Johnson III, Jacob Breeland and Jaylon Redd.

Oregon’s receivers are no longer a question mark. They are a strength, and they should be utilized to their full extent.

Get Bryan Addison Involved

Redshirt freshman Bryan Addison has the build and skills to be an impact player at the college level and beyond. And while he had a tough drop in Week 1 against Auburn, getting Addison into rhythm in the coming weeks will be critical in further opening Oregon’s offense.

At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Addison gives Oregon a big presence on the field. And if he is used in packages with Juwan Johnson, Spencer Webb and Jacob Breeland, the Ducks will field one of their most physically imposing receiving corps in years.

Still, Addison has just three catches the past two games, and he had just one for four yards against Montana. As defenses start to key Johnson III, Addison will need to have a bigger presence on offense to give Oregon the length they need.

Furthermore, Stanford cornerbacks Paulson Adebo and Obi Eboh are no slouches. Yes, the Cardinal have given up plenty through the air, but Adebo is a standout corner, and both Adebo and Eboh are physically imposing.

Oregon will need Addison’s speed and length to test Stanford’s corners and open opportunities for the rest of the offense.

Running Backs, Hit Your Holes

First, there was the Arroyo flex. Now, there’s the Oregon bounce.

In the first three games of the year, Oregon fans often  have been left scratching their heads about the run game. The offensive line was opening holes, but Oregon’s running backs weren’t hitting them. Instead, they were hitting their linemen.

Thus, the Oregon bounce.

Maybe it’s hesitancy to press headstrong into the middle of a defense, or perhaps they are waiting for a wider opportunity. But whatever the reason, Oregon backs haven’t been hitting the holes the offensive line has been opening.

C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye have consistently bounced off their own linemen and looked indecisive in where they want to take the ball. Against an aggressive, opportunistic Stanford defense, this could present a problem.

If the Ducks are to establish the running game against the Cardinal, Oregon’s backs must be more confident in their decisions and run aggressively.

Furthermore, Marcus Arroyo must allow the backs to use their speed to stretch the edge.

The most successful runs this year have come in classic Oregon fashion, stretching the field for a few plays and then hitting the defense hard up the middle once they tire out or cheat to the outside. Getting back to the basics of the Oregon run game is critical to offensive success against Stanford.

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