What does Oregon get for its difficulties after a loss last week at home against Stanford? : A road game against a much better variant of the Cardinal.
The Ducks play at No. 11 Utah Saturday at Salt Lake City, Utah, and on paper have no chance to win, or even remain close. So much so that the 14-point spread seems to be an insult to Utah by about ten points.
Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) will roll into Utah (8-2, 5-2) with the second-worst rushing defense at the Pac-12 in 255.4 yards allowed per game to face the hottest rushing attack in the conference.
“Same thing as last week, really,” Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said. “You’ve got to stop the run. There is no doubt about it.”
Oregon has not stopped the run all season. Not against UC Davis and Virginia in what seems like ions ago. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey ran rampant a week, scoring three touchdowns as the Cardinal, owners of the worst offense in the conference, averaging 340 yards per game, place up 540 yards of total offense on the Ducks.
Utah, averaging 433.7 metres per game is much better on offense than Stanford thanks to the wonderful performances of running back Joe Williams. He”retired” for four games to start the season only to be talked back into playing. Since his return, Williams has averaged 216 total yards and 156.5 yards rushing per game. He’s gained 939 rushing yards on 7.0 yards per carry.
“He is maybe the most volatile and the fastest of some of the backs we’ve had here up to a house run-type back that could extend the distance from anywhere on the field,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters this week.
To make things worse for Oregon, Williams runs behind a veteran offensive line.
“They are physical upfront,” Hoke said. “Very senior-oriented offensive line with three men up there which have played a great deal of football”
The Ducks are the opposite with one senior starting on a young defense that’s rotated through 14 defensive linemen this year.
“We had a fantastic week of training precisely the same thing we did the week before,” Hoke said. “Our guys have come out and struggled , and been physical each time we go to the area.”
That intensity has not translated into powerful performances on game days. Saturday will probably be no different.
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