If you’ve been paying attention to Oregon Football for the past few years, you already know the team lives by “winning the day” against “faceless” opponents. As Coach Helfrich explained the other day, it’s something they have to do. It’s part of their culture. I’m totally fine with that, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t study, analyze, compare and get really really hyped about this VERY big opponent coming to town. Unfortunately, what would have been another big national platform for the Ducks to showcase their talent, is being overshadowed by a SEC showdown in College Station (Texas A&M). Johnny Football, blah, blah, blah. ‘Bama revenge, blah, blah, blah. That’s OK, we’ll be having a good time here in lil’ ole Eugene anyway- It should be a great show- complete with tie die and cashmere.
Things to Know About Tennessee (Duck Players, cover your eyes).
1. The Ducks last played against Tennessee in Knoxville in 2010. The explosive Ducks won 48-13. Tennessee will be looking for redemption.
2. The Tennessee Vols are part of the “Elite” SEC– Southeastern Conference. Anyone outside the SEC hates the SEC. Remember that. Anytime anyone in the Pac 12 plays against an SEC team, you must cheer for the Pac 12 team…well unless the Husky’s are playing. The point is, playing an SEC team gives the Pac 12 a good opportunity to prove we can compete. Right now, Oregon has the best opportunity to do that. If the Ducks when, they earn national respect. If they lose, we’ll keep hearing how the Ducks are good, but not quite good enough. It seems stupid, but teams outside the SEC have to work extra hard to earn street cred.
3. Tennessee currently tops the country in interceptions gained. This is where Mariota can further prove himself worthy of that Heisman chatter. He’s been criticized (unfairly in my opinion) this week for his “Completion Percentage”, and if the Vols are just consulting paper, they will think they can take advantage of that. It turns out though, his passes are generally spot on. The issue hasn’t been him most of the time. Last week for example, there were 6 drops by the receivers. And by the way, Mariota has yet to throw an interception this year. Will the streak end this week?
4. Tennessee is bigger. As is usually the case with Oregon’s opponents, it will be another size vs. speed type of game. Sometimes that s-p-e-l-l-s trouble for the Ducks (Stanford 2012), and sometimes it’s no issue. Why? because the Ducks are very, very, fast and wear the big boys down.
5. Tennessee’s QB has experience, but continues to struggle with accuracy. Accuracy? As in, he has been under throwing long balls, and throwing the ball too high at times. If he hasn’t worked this out, look for Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and T-Mitch to interrupt his game.
6. Tennessee has a strength at Linebacker. A.J. Johnson, an All-SEC Linebacker who at 6’2″ 245 lbs, will be in charge of getting after the 5’9″ 169 lbs. De’Anthony Thomas. The good news? Apparently, Johnson isn’t great at chasing track stars. Phew!
There ya have it. You’re in the know and ready for game day. I’ve heard Tennessee fans are extremely nice and were very hospitable to Duck fans during their 2010 visit to Knoxville. I know we have a bad rep for being obnoxious (a rep I don’t agree with by the way), but please be nice to the well-dressed fans in Orange- even if they’re wearing a bowtie.
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