Oregon RB LaMichael James ran for 134 yards, and 2 touchdowns, including the one above where he battled past Oregon St.'s Jordan Poyer, on 28 carries last year in the Ducks' 37-20 Civil War win over the Beavers. How many yards and touchdowns will he have this year? (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Getting ready for the Civil War, we got together between courses of dinner with those guys that are Addicted To Quack down the road to get an update on a few issues.
After losing to USC, this game is a must win for Oregon in order to get to host the Pac-12 Championship game, so it would be a huge game no matter the opponent. Does the fact that the game is also the Civil War help or hurt? Or has the high stakes of getting to a Championship Game made the Civil War angle almost a non-issue this year?
Absent the issue of qualifying for the Championship Game, generally, with how the last season and a half has gone for the Beavs, and with the overall high level of play the Ducks have been playing at for these last few seasons, how much of a true Civil War spark is there for this game? Does the game still have that tradition going for it, or has it now become just like any other game?
Chip Kelly would say that the opponent doesn't matter. I'm not sure how much the players buy into the rivalry thing. But for the fans, the conference championship game doesn't change things one bit. It's the Civil War, and we never want to lose to the Beavers.
We never want to lose to the Beavers. Doing so constitutes an epic failure, regardless of other results.
Do we see Alejandro Maldonado kicking field goals this week? And why didn't Oregon go to Rob Beard? He's been kicking off, and pretty well, so it would seem his injury should be pretty well healed. Experience might have helped at the end of the game.
Oregon fans wish we knew the answer to this question, but Chip's lips have been sealed. Rob Beard has been kicking off for several weeks now, so I'm not buying the injury excuse. Maldonado has consistently lacked range and accuracy, making him a questionable choice for handling field goals. That said, if this game comes down to a field goal, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
USC shut La Michael James down pretty well, allowing him only 78 yards on 20 carries, and more importantly, no explosion plays, with a 9 yard run his longest. What did USC do differently that contained him?
Have you heard that Oregon struggles against really athletic defensive lines? USC didn't do anything tricky. But their big, athletic defensive line was able to consistently win the line of scrimmage, and unlike many teams in the league, have the speed not to allow every second level play turn into a touchdown. It also helped the Trojans that Oregon played very poorly for the first three quarters of that game. USC simply executed better than the Ducks.
A lot had been made about the key to beating Oregon being extra time to prepare, but USC somewhat debunked that idea. However, Oregon seemed to struggle a little with clock and game management in a close game late, something admittedly they haven't had much experience with since Chip Kelly came to town. Is that really more of the problem? Is it a concern going forward?
Clearly, Chip Kelly made mistakes by not using his time outs. That said, we forget that Kelly, only a third year head coach, hasn't been in a whole lot of close games in his tenure, and it will take a few to experience exactly how he wants to play it. I'm not worried about it at this point. In fact, if this type of situation should become a factor in this game, Chip's clock management takes a major back seat on my worry meter to "oh my God how the hell did this happen?"
Has De'Anthony Thomas developed as fast as hoped for this year? If LMJ leaves for the NFL, is Thomas ready to fully step into his role?
DeAnthony Thomas has been more than we could hope for, being stellar in four positions (RB, slot receiver, kick returner, and punt coverage gunner). He is a threat to score from anywhere anytime he gets the ball. That said, when LMJ declares for the draft, next year's starter will be Kenjon Barner, who had three 100 yard games in James' absence this season.
What makes realistic Duck fan nervous going into the Civil War?
I don't want to be cocky, but if I am being honest, nothing. These two teams are simply not very close in terms of talent level, and it would take massive breakdowns at multiple positions to make this a close game.
How about slightly neurotic Duck fan?
The college football gods are going to smite me for the above statement, and I'll never hear the end of it. Ever.
Thanks again to David Piper at ATQ for the Duck perspective heading into the Civil War.