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November 12, 2007

Oregon Preview: Offense

Oregon's offense is easily the best Arizona will face all season due in large part to the number of players that can hurt you.

The offense, fifth in the nation averaging 42 points per game, starts with 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior Dennis Dixon. After having a mediocre season last year, Dixon has bounced back to arguably become the Heisman front runner.

New offensive coordinator Chip Kelly has made life easy for Dixon and it shows in his stats. Thus far, Dixon has thrown for nearly 230 yards per game with 67 percent accuracy. Remarkably, he has thrown 20 touchdowns compared to three interceptions.

One of the main reasons his numbers are so strong is because opposing teams have to respect him on the ground as well. He is the team's second leading rusher with 702 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Simply put, he is as close to unstoppable as they come because he is equally dangerous in both the air and on the ground.

Speaking of rushing, Oregon has plenty of backs that hurt you in numerous ways. Of course, it all starts with 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior Jonathan Stewart. Regarded as one of the better backs in the country, Stewart averages 126 yards per game and has reached the end zone 10 times.

He is a punishing back and his numbers tend to increase as the games wears on due in part to the fact that opposing defenses take a beating when they go up against him. Stewart also gets a break because of the talent behind him.

5-foot-11, 195-pound sophomore Andre Crenshaw is good enough to give Stewart the occasional breather. He is averaging 30 yards per game but averages 5.6 yards per carry and, if need be, can be dangerous in his own right.

The Ducks have the fifth best rushing attack in the country, averaging 271 yards per games.

Oregon also has plenty of receiving weapons, as the Ducks tend to spread the ball out. The leading receiver is 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior Jaison Williams. Williams is a big receiver that is a major deep threat, averaging 16 yards per reception. He has reached the end zone seven times and leads Oregon's receivers in every statistical category.

6-foot-5, 240-pound sophomore tight end Ed Dickson is the team's second leading receiver with 27 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns. The former Arizona commit is followed by 6-foot-3, 203-pound senior Garren Strong and his 22 catches for 199 yards.

While Oregon's receiving numbers may not be impressive on paper, it is due in large part to the fact that the offense is so spread out, with much of the dominance coming on the ground.

Oregon's offensive line deserves a ton of credit for the performance of an offense that ranks fifth in the nation with 510 yards per game.

At left tackle is 6-foot-6, 322-pound senior Fenuki Tupou. The junior college transfer is considered to be Oregon's fastest lineman and combined with his strength, has been very consistent this year.

At the other tackle position is 6-foot-7, 339-pound senior Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz has started nearly 30 games and while health was a concern in the past, he has stayed healthy this season and is thus having a successful year.

6-foot-4, 311-pound Josh Tschirgi is the starter at left guard. He is considered to be one of the more technically sound linemen on the team.

At right guard is 6-foot-4, 308-pound junior Mark Lewis. Lewis is one of the more versatile linemen, having the ability to play five positions on the line.

Last is 6-foot-5, 300-pound junior center Max Unger. Unger is considered to be the leader of the offensive line as he has the most amount of starts.

Arizona's 5 Keys to Defensive Success
1. First quarter victory: Oregon has outscored opponents 125-33 in the first quarter. Arizona needs to come close to breaking that trend, or the game could be over early.
2. Contain the run game: Easier said than done, but Oregon's run game is the most dominant part of the offense. If Arizona can keep it in check, the Wildcats have a chance.
3. Mark Dixon: The more he runs, the more dangerous the offense is. It is tricky because a player could shadow him, but then a spot on the field would be left open. It will be interesting to see how Arizona game plans for Dixon.
4. Force fumbles: Oregon has fumbled 19 times this season, losing 11 of them. It is one of the few categories opponents have had an advantage in and Arizona needs to utilize it.
5. Stop third down: Oregon has converted nearly 50 percent of its third down conversions. Stop it, and Oregon's ability to score goes down dramatically.

Jason Scheer

Auburn NEWS


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