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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Opponent analysis: Keys to the game

Who to watch on the Oregon offense

Public Enemy No. 1 for the Arizona Wildcats this weekend will be No. 8 Jeremiah Masoli. The junior quarterback is the key to head coach Chip Kelly’s spread offense and he runs and passes extremely well. Masoli is averaging 175.7 passing yards per game and he has thrown for 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. On the ground, Masoli is averaging 62 yards rushing. Oregon has a lot of weapons, but if Masoli isn’t on his game, the Wildcats will have a chance at the upset.

The other main part of Oregon’s offense is speedy redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James. Through 10 games he’s averaging 119.3 yards a game and has 11 touchdowns. He has been outstanding since taking over the starting position after running back LeGarrette Blount was suspended on Sept. 4.

But the dark horse of the offense will be tight end Ed Dickson. When he has a big day, the Ducks roll. He leads the team in reception yards with 488 and five touchdowns and he’s the leader of the receiving corps. Masoli is always judicious in spreading the ball around to five or even six receivers, but Dickson is the main target.

Who to watch on the Oregon defense

In the secondary, it will be senior safety T.J. Ward. Known for his hard hitting, Ward is leading the team in tackles since he came back from an ankle injury that sat him out from the Purdue to Washington games. He will be a key component in stopping the outstanding passing game of Arizona.

In the linebacking corps, Casey Matthews is the man to watch. He has 62 tackles on the year and 2.5 sacks. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior is the perfect combination of speed and size and fits nicely in the middle of the Oregon defense.

Upfront in the trenches, defensive ends Will Tukuafu and Kenny Rowe will try to penetrate Arizona’s offensive line. The two have 9.5 sacks combined and 15 tackles for a loss.

Keys on offense

• Oregon must establish a tempo early. Much like last year in Eugene, the Ducks need to jump out to an early lead. Kelly emphasizes tempo in the no-huddle offense, but to keep the Wildcat defense at bay, the Ducks will look to keep them on their heels.

• Run the football. The Ducks are the No. 6 team in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 237 yards a game. It’s their bread and butter and if they cannot run the ball, then Arizona will win the game.

• Limit the turnovers. The past couple of games the Ducks have not won the turnover battle after starting the year with an advantage. Limit the fumbles and miscues on special teams and the Ducks will be very hard to beat.

Keys on defense

• Defend against the pass. Nick Foles has been a brilliant replacement for Willie Tuitama. He’s averaging 217 yards a game through the air and the Ducks are notorious for their sometimes-shoddy pass defense. If Foles has time to throw, the game will become a shootout.

• Pressure Nick Foles. This is a side note of No. 1. The Oregon D-line has been OK at pressuring the quarterback but against Stanford, Andrew Luck had all day to throw. When that happens, quarterbacks usually find open receivers down field.

• Win the turnover battle. Kelly has challenged the Ducks to score 10 defensive touchdowns this year and the Ducks have stalled the past three games without a single defensive score. Oregon needs to force Foles into a couple of bad passes to keep the game in control.

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