To get ready for the big USC Trojans vs. Oregon Ducks football matchup tomorrow night at the Coliseum, we thought we’d chat up the Ducks with Brian Spaen, the lead editor for Autzen Zoo on the FanSided Network. Let’s grill him.
Reign of Troy When the Trojans lost to Arizona, do you think the game lost its luster?
Autzen Zoo: Yes. After the Trojans’ loss to Stanford it probably wasn’t going to beat out Alabama vs. LSU, but networks love hyping up a top 10 matchup, which this would be one if USC didn’t lose a week ago.
Reign of Troy USC beat Oregon last season and they have pretty much the same team this does. Despite two losses, do you think that gives the Trojans an advantage?
Autzen Zoo: It could, but Oregon’s defense has improved from a year ago especially in the red zone. Last year, USC had the most attempts of any other team against the defense with six and was able to convert four touchdowns and one field goal. This year, the majority of conversions against the Ducks have been when the games are decided early on.
Reign of TroyDe’Anthony Thomas only has 100 touches in eight games and isn’t getting many carries. What gives? Is this the game Chip Kelly lets him loose?
Autzen Zoo: It’s interesting that after seeing DAT early on, I penciled him in as an easy candidate for the Heisman trophy. He doesn’t have quite the impressive stats as others, but Kenjon Barner has been a nightmare matchup for most of the defenses he has faced. There isn’t one team Oregon’s faced that has a better rush defense than 73rd in the nation – that’s Arizona. USC is at 29th. Chip Kelly will still run the ball a lot, but I do anticipate Mariota passing and DAT to be receiving the ball more. These same defenses that stop the run like USC, Oregon State, and Stanford, aren’t nearly as good on pass defense.
Reign of Troy Is Marcus Mariota ready to perform in a hostile environment for the first time?
Autzen Zoo: Yes. Mariota struggled very early in the Arizona State game, but when Kenjon Barner had a long touchdown run the crowd became silent and Oregon continued to pound them until knocking them out in the second quarter.
Reign of Troy Oregon hasn’t been tested this season and the starters have only played for halves at a time. Going into the Coliseum where they’ll presumably need to go for 60 minutes, is that a concern?
Autzen Zoo: It is a concern because they haven’t had to win a game at the end all season. Obviously, with so many good teams left on the schedule I’m sure they will have to accomplish this. But what has to be relieving to both fans and the players is that if Oregon needs to get a stop on defense, this squad can do it better than previous years.
Reign of Troy Got a prediction?
Autzen Zoo: Oregon has been the most consistent team in all of college football, coming out with the same mindset every week and not settling down. Kelly talks about “faceless opponents” but it’s obvious he coaches his team by knowing each opponent. I expect some changeup on offense with so many teams ranked high in rush defense left on the schedule, but that won’t stop the Ducks from taking care of business again this week. I think they take a lead early and hold on to it with their improved defense. 41-27 Oregon