Sorry Cliff Harris, I had to steal it. The “Natty”- it just has such a nice ring to it, especially when the Ducks have just three more hurdles to get there. Hurdle #1: Beat Stanford. Hurdle #2: Beat Oregon State. Hurdle #3: Win PAC 12 Championship. Sounds easy, right? Maybe… probably… no…yes. Honestly, no one really knows- including me. Since we’re here though, lets look at Hurdle #1.
1st. Down- “Behind the Scenes”
Tomorrow’s game is big! Anytime ESPN Game Day rolls into lil’ ol’ Eugene, you know it’s big. Stanford, currently ranked #13 in the BCS and #14 in the AP, is known for it’s bruising defense- specifically against running backs. Stanford currently has the # 1 rush defense in the country and there’s no doubt who they’ll be targeting (Here’s a hint: It starts with a “Ken” and ends with a “yon”). On the surface, that seems like a scary situation, but here’s the deal- Stanford hasn’t played the Ducks with their “High Flyin’ Hawaiian” QB, and who I believe should be a Heisman front-runner. As much as the Cardinal D could give the Ducks some trouble, I do think Oregon is just way too good to cave. There have been teams that have limited Barner’s stats, but in those times, Mariota has thrown the ball beautifully and shown the world he can run with the ball too. The Ducks have so many play-makers all over the field, it’s hard to stop all of them. If the Cardinal stops the run, Mariota will find receivers. If they break up passes, Barner, or DAT will find a little tiny space to run through with blazing speed. If all else fails, Mariota will take off with the ball his dang self. So, when people ask me if I’m worried about this game, my reply is, “Not so much”. In my humble opinion, I think the Ducks will “spread” their attack all over the place, and I actually think Kenjon will be able to run on that #1 run defense. He’s that good. If he does, I think he’ll find himself in the front of the Heisman line (OK. Clearly I’m a little conflicted on which Duck should get the Heisman).
On a side note, I really like it when Standford comes to play in Eugene. Their band is really funny. Don’t believe me? Head over to Game Day tomorrow am.
2nd Down- “X’s” and “O’s”
“Rush Defense”– The defensive players that target the players running with the ball- running backs.
“Dual-Threat QB”– A quarterback that can both pass well, and run well. (ie: Marcus Mariot) Bonus Points explanation This is very important for a spread offense, like Oregon and Texas A&M run. It’s no coincidence that the A&M QB, Johnny Manziel, who is a Heisman front-runner, was committed to Oregon, along with Mariota, before deciding to move back to Texas. I dare you to bust that out when you are with the guys tomorrow.
3rd Down- “What to Watch”
Tomorrow’s game should be pretty interesting. I, along with everyone else, will definitely be watching to see how Kenjon and the other running backs do against the Cardinal defense. I’ll also be watching to see how the Ducks’ defense does with the Cardinal’s star running back- Stepfan Taylor. He’s a pretty big deal. (So is Shayne Skov- You’ll hear his name a lot tomorrow).
Last, but definitely not least, my eyes will be glued to the Defensive Back position. I’m dying to see if the rumors are true about De’Anthony Thomas and Bryan Bennett surprising Autzen with their defensive talent (see previous post).
4th Down- “Prediction”
I have a sneaky suspicion, even though it defies logic, that Kenjon will show up big tomorrow. As tomorrow’s target, he’ll be charged and ready. I think he’ll get some help from our very own Island hero, who will keep the Cardinal’s guessing where the ball is headed. This should loosen up the pressure on Kenjon, opening up his bee-line to the end zone. Got all that? Bring on the trick plays, the in-sync play-makers, and watch the hurdling to the Natty begin. And oh yeah, stay humble and Win the Day. Oregon 45- Stanford 21.