Oregon beats USC if…
The Trojans don’t play tough, physical, assignment based defense. Playing a physical style of defense against the Ducks is very important in stopping their attack and that starts up front with the defensive line and it begins with the running game. The Trojans must emulate the physicality that the LSU Tigers used to hold the Ducks to 3.4 yards per carry and 4 turnovers in the season opener last season.
If the defensive line can’t play with leverage, can’t re-establish the line of scrimmage on the Ducks’ side of the ball, and can’t control their gap responsibilities – it could be a long night for the Trojans. It is the running game and its misdirection that makes this Ducks’ offense go. In order to stop this offense, you must first stop the run.
However, it is no small task to stop this rushing attack. This is an offense that averages 330.6 on the ground each game. This outpaces the next closest team in the conference by nearly 115 yards a game. They are the 3rd best rushing offense in the nation, behind only Army and Air Force, two teams that run old style option attacks.
What is also remarkable is the speed at which this offense moves the ball down the field. Typically rushing attacks are methodical, clock chewing attacks. This may take 7-10 minutes per drive for most run oriented attacks. The Ducks typically do it in less than 2 minutes.
The pace and the rate at which the Ducks score (53.38 ppg, 1st in the nation) puts a tremendous pressure on the Trojans’ defense to keep them out of the end zone and an enormous amount of pressure on the Trojans’ offense to score every time they have the ball.
If the Trojans can’t find the offensive magic that they had last year, this game could get ugly and it could get ugly fast. The Trojans have to overcome their 3rd down failures by incorporating other parts of their offense. They also can’t afford to short circuit drives with penalties. To be short, the Trojans’ offense will need to be perfect in all facets of the game in order to pull this off.
If the Trojans’ play, coaching, and game planning don’t match their talent, the Ducks will beat the Trojans. Tune in to watch the Trojans take on the Ducks from the L.A. Coliseum on your local Fox affiliate at 4 pm on Saturday.