Pregame Q+A with Addicted to Quack, Part 1

To help us preview tomorrow's War for the Roses, we exchanged some questions with Addicted to Quack to get their feel for the game, among other things.AndyPanda responded to their questions and the result is this post... here is the first part jtlight's responses to our questions:

BtD: Sean Canfield is the most accurate passer in the Pac-10. Will the Ducks counter with pressure, and if so, how will they account for Quizz with that approach? Or will they go with max coverage, trying to force Canfield back into his historic tendancy to some times hold the ball too long, taking late sacks?

AtQ: The Ducks will do both. They will likely switch things up at all times. With their speed at linebacker and on the defensive line, The Ducks can bring pressure from different areas on every play. Nothing will be predictable. They may only bring 4-5 guys, but the goal will be to confuse the OSU offensive line. This approach will allow the Ducks to keep a safety/linebacker on Quizz if they play man/man, or they will account for him as normal if they drop in zone.

In other cases, they may drop into coverage, hoping to catch OSU in a max protect situation and let the superior coverage create a "coverage sack"

Whatever happens, the Ducks will mix things up greatly, and have the versatility to do a little bit of everything.

The Beaver run defense is the strength of that unit. Realizing that the Duck offense is designed around and dependant on Jeremiah Masoli's making reads to choose an option, what do they think will be the likely distribution/balance between LaMichael James, the new all-time best freshman rusher in the Pac-10's runs, and Masoli's counters, cutbacks, and spint outs?

It all depends on how the Beavers defend the play, that's the beauty of the spread option. If the Beavers collapse on Masoli, then he'll hand it off. If DE or DT makes the wrong play, Masoli will take it. So it's impossible to make any prediction on who will carry it more.

One aspect that's also important to note is that Oregon runs two variations of the inside zone. One isolates the DE, while the other isolates the DT. When Oregon can effectively block for these plays, it is simply devastating, because it means that both the DE and DT have a lot to think about on every single play, and can paralyze a defensive lineman. If the Ducks can get these plays working, I would look for Masoli to take the ball over and over again, like he did against USC.

Was the Blount punch a blessing in disguise (regarding the instant discovery of James)?

It most definitely was. Not only did it push LaMichael James into the forefront, but it also allowed Chip Kelly to take control of the team. At Boise, it wasn't quite his team yet. However, after his response to the BSU disaster, there was no question that this was Chip's team. And honestly, this was probably the best thing that could have happened to the future of the Duck program, as painful as it was in the short term.

What has been the biggest disappointment of the year? The biggest surprise?

The biggest disappointment would have to be the season ending injury to Walter Thurmond III on the opening kickoff against Cal. Thurmond was an absolute force over the first 3 games. He scoresd two touchdowns (one on an interception, one on a punt), and should have had another interception against BSU if not for a terrible call that brought it back. Walter was the leader of the defense, and though the pass defense has excelled without him, it's too bad we had to miss out on watching one of the top DBs in the country.

The biggest surprise is the Oregon defense. After having porous defenses over the past few years, many fans clamored for a top 25 defense, and they finally have it. Though the defense is quite young (especially in the secondary), they are making plays. The Ducks lead the league in passing defense efficiency (I don't look at total yards all that much simply due to the extra plays that are run during Oregon games due to their no huddle offense). They also give up the least amount of yards per play in the conference by a healthy margin. The defense has tremendous speed, which helps them mask their lack of size. The defense has simply been a delight to watch. Well, except for the Stanford game.

(Even though the season hasn't ended) You are returning a lot of young talent (Harris, James) and some core talent as well, like Masoli. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, what are your (honest!) expectations for next year?

Honest expectations for next season is Pac-10 championship, and a legitimate run at a national title. Oregon loses one player on the entire offensive two deep (Ed Dickson), and loses only 2 1/2 starters on defense (I'm counting T.J. Ward as 1/2 because he hasn't started the whole season). This really is the best that Oregon has ever been set up in terms of experience, talent, and depth.

The only two concerns I have are defensive size, though Oregon has some young DT's that will hopefully be ready to contribute next year, and road performance, as Oregon plays @USC, @OSU, and @Tenn. If those areas can be addressed, Oregon will be in excellent shape to have a great year next season.

Thanks to jtlight and the Addicted to Quack crew! Also thanks to AndyPanda and the VD Special for help developing the questions. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Q+A exchange.

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com) | Twitter

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