November 3, 2007

Ask the expert Q&A: Oregon Ducks

Throughout the 2007 season, we will run a story previewing Arizona State's next upcoming opponent through the view of a beat writer covering that team. This week, A.J. Jacobson from was kind enough to take time out to give Arizona State fans insight into their next opponent, the Oregon Ducks.

What is the mental state and physical health of Oregon following the big win over USC?

One of the hallmarks of this Oregon team will probably end up being its week-to-week focus. The local media doesn't even bother asking hypothetical questions this year, because they've all seen what the answer will be. Players and coaches alike, the Ducks have been unwilling to discuss possibilities past the upcoming Saturday. ASU will have their attention.

Physically the Ducks can let it all hang out with a bye the following week. Oregon lost playmaking wide receivers Brian Paysinger and Cameron Colvin, running back Jeremiah Johnson and linebacker A.J. Tuitele earlier in the year, and they will all be out for the ASU game.

What are Oregon's biggest concerns in preparation for ASU and why?

The biggest concern for the Ducks is probably Rudy Carpenter and the deep stable of receivers for the Sun Devils. The strength of the Duck defense is supposed to be the defensive backfield, but teams like Washington State were able to exploit the Ducks deep. Arizona State has better quarterback play and receivers than WSU.

Compare the Oregon defense this year to last year. Where is it as good or better and where is it not as good and why?

The Duck defense is better in the secondary, less deep at linebacker and about even with last year along the line.

The secondary is very talented at corner with Walter Thurmond and Jairus Byrd starting for the second year, and Patrick Chung has been one of the better safeties in the league since his sophomore year.

The Ducks are starting John Bacon at MLB this year, and Bacon hasn't been as productive at that position as in the past. He played his best game against USC however. The Duck line is deep but without any standout aside from DE Nick Reed.

What makes the Ducks so potent offensively?

What has made the Ducks tough to defend is the way they spread the defense out but can run up the middle so effectively. Compounding that is Dennis Dixon, who must be contained or will run for big yardage. The formula for this year's success is a great offensive line, Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart. Before the spate of injuries, wide receiver was a strength too. The other piece of the puzzle is new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, who really has been good for the Duck program.

What type of game do you expect and what is your predicted outcome?

This should be a very solid football game with speed on both benches. The Sun Devils will likely be forced to pass quite a bit because the Ducks do not like to give up the run in these games. The Ducks will run the ball a lot with the option and with Jonathan Stewart, but some of their biggest plays will likely come through the air. Given the quality of the teams, this should be a moderate scoring affair with turnovers and special teams key. Oregon 35 - ASU 29.

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