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Oregon Football

Keys to the Game: Oregon Offense vs Arizona

November 13, 2019

Oregon rolls into the matchup with Arizona after a very favorable bye week where the team was able to get healthy and watch a few upsets involving teams in front of them, which allowed Oregon jump to #6 in latest CFP rankings. Even though players are hearing their name more and more in the playoff conversation, you know Mario Cristobal won’t allow them to start looking ahead. 

The Ducks face off against a very up and down Arizona team, one that was able to stun Oregon last season. Players from that game will be looking to get some revenge on the Wildcats. Here are the three things on offense that Oregon will need to do to pay back the Wildcats for that 44-15 disaster in the desert last year.

Control the clock

Oregon has taken a big step forward in regards to the effectiveness and consistency of the offense. Oregon is significantly more talented on offense than Arizona is on defense, and the Wildcat D is not the best coached group in the league. With Arizona currently on week 2 of a new DC regime after Marcel Yates was fired three weeks ago, Oregon should be able to take advantage of the lowest-rated defense in the Pac-12 (both in points per game and yards per game). 

Dominating time of possession, if able to do so, will offer the Ducks several benefits. First, it will keep the ball away from whichever quarterback Arizona chooses to use. Controlling the clock will also keep the ball out of the hands of Wildcat RB JJ Taylor, who has shown he can make multiple explosion plays a game. And of course, it will give the whole defense time to rest, and allow the pass rushers to have fresh legs all game so they can pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.

Create Explosion Plays

Against USC, Oregon was able to produce explosion plays more frequently, including multiple receptions such as Juwan Johnson’s third TD, where the receiver was able to turn upfield and gain significant yards after catch. Playing against a defense like Arizona, Oregon should be able to dial up play calls that get the ball in their dynamic playmakers' hands. I imagine we’ll see a lot of screen passes called to Jaylon Redd or Mycah Pittman and allow the offensive line to create massive holes or convoys against the undersized Arizona defense. In the running game, with CJ Verdel and Cyrus Habibi-Likio deemed “full go” this week, Oregon should be able to use a variety of running backs and keep them fresh. In that scenario, I could see Oregon breaking off multiple big time runs.

Vertical Passing Game Success

A few weeks ago, we finally saw the full potential of the Oregon offense with Juwan Johnson finally having his breakout game. Having a guy like that who can go up and snag a 50/50 ball is massive for Oregon. Continuing their vertical passing game success will help the offense in a few different ways. It’ll help Herbert by forcing the Wildcat D to adjust and not just run zones in the middle of the field to take away the short and underneath passing game. Arizona will have to respect the deep ball and keep safeties back to help out the corners. With the safeties playing back and the corners not pressing as much it should allow Oregon to face a less crowded box, which should further help the running game. In addition, with Arizona at the bottom of the league in sacks (10), Herbert should have adequate time to let routes develop and receivers to get open.

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