The Ducks open Pac-12 play against the Utah Utes, who have the offensive tools to mount an upset. Instead, Clay dropped the ball early, Joe Walker eventually scooped it up and took it the other way for a touchdown, and the rest was history. It’s a unique time for Beaver football as a new coaching staff and players build a foundation for the program.
Kaelin Clay may be gone, but some of the same weapons for Utah return for 2015. The key here will be to see if Riley learns from his mistake.
In fact, it’s No. 13 Oregon’s own risky running game that could help UO cope with the challenge Booker presents.
Utah leaned on the legs of their running backs this weekend with quarterback Travis Wilson still out. I hope he can play; I’m expecting Thompson to also play, because he can get the job done with his legs and arm (somewhat).
Scouting the pass defense: The Ducks continue to struggle against the pass with a young secondary that features just one returning starter.
Utah has allowed 18.3 points per game this year, which is ranked only 58th in the country.
The Ducks and the Utes square off Saturday, 5:00 p.m.at Autzen Stadium.
Which quarterbacks will play? Freeman has run for 373 yards and five scores in three games this season, averaging more than six yards per carry. Defensively, the Utah Utes yield 258.7 yards in passing and 105.7 yards in rushing.
Utah’s star running back is Devontae Booker, the 5-11, 210-pound senior who rushed for 1,512 yards a year ago. He’s a physical back who can create headaches for opposing defenses, metaphorically and literally, in this case.
In all fairness, Utah’s offense has been doing some good things. Seth Collins finished the game with 13/25 passing and 135 yards and a touchdown while also picking up 114 yards on 16 carries and 2 touchdowns on the ground. If the defense can consistently hold Pac-12 teams to less than 19 points per game, then Utah will win far more games than it loses in Pac-12 play. He is more explosive than when he was a freshman and has displayed zero signs his old knee injury hampering his speed.
The Ducks are just another opponent for the Utes in the grand scheme of things, but make no mistake, the Utes will certainly be playing with revenge in mind when they travel to Eugene this weekend. After Week 3, Pro Football Focus rated Adams as the worst QB in the conference; and while it’s possible that the broken finger he reportedly played with against Michigan State contributed to some of his wobbly passes, his aggressiveness remains a high-reward, high-risk proposition.
Kenneth Scott, one of Utah’s top receivers previous year, has been relatively quiet to start 2015. Neither one of them saw any significant time at Michigan State, although Brooks-James did have three carries for 20 yards. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be factored into Saturday’s game plan. This boneheaded fumble (Clay would be the first to admit it) completely shifted the momentum of the game, which ultimately resulted in a 51-27 loss for Utah. The Ducks’ tackling must improve if they want to be able to slow Booker. He’s a dual-threat both in the backfield and through the air. Whittingham and the Utes will have the opportunity to make a big impression on the college football landscape with their season opening game at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. Oregon is averaging 567 yards and scoring 50 points per game, both of which are good for ninth overall in their respective standings.