USC Football Schedule Preview 2015: Scouting Oregon


USC football’s final road game of 2015 will find them facing a cornered serpent in the form of the explosive and very dangerous Oregon Ducks.

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Coming off of a 13-2 record and a berth in the inaugural CFB Championship game, the Ducks will be looking for a chance to repeat as Pac-12 champions at the Trojan’s expense.

Here’s an early look at USC’s eleventh opponent of the year:


The Ducks are loaded across the board. If they are able to solidify the most important cog in their high-powered offense, the quarterback-center exchange, they may very well win their first championship.

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the game at AT&T Stadium. The Buckeyes defeated the Ducks 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Replacing the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Marcus Mariotta, in addition to a four-year starting center, Hroniss Grasu, is a tall task, but it may not be as difficult as it seems.

Predicted to win both starting positions are two graduate transfers in QB Vernon Adams and Matt Hegarty, from Notre Dame, thoughboth will have to earn those starting roles.

The Ducks continue to attract and supply top-tier talent for the top ranked rushing attack in the Pac-12, as well as one of the more dynamic rushing attacks in the nation. A group so deep and talented one of its members, Bryon Marshall, led the team in receiving just a season ago, will only get better with an additional summer to gel together.

Sophomore Royce Freeman and junior Thomas Tyner will propel the potent Duck attack, which seems to get even stronger with the addition of early enrollee Taj Griffin, the fourth rated back in 2015 recruiting cycle.

The wide receiving unit just may be the achilles heel of the Ducks this season, if they are unable to solidify the rotation.

Bralen Addison, converted defensive back Charles Nelson, and Derron Carrington will pace the air attack, which faces uncertainty in the form Devon Allen’s eligibility status.

If he is a go, a potential liability becomes a point of strength.


With the second ranked defense in the Pac-12 from a season ago, Oregon boasts the top defensive lineman in the conference in defensive end DeForest Buckner, who along with Alex Balducci at the nose will generate a ton of pressure on opposing offenses, despite the loss of first round draft pick Arik Armstead.

Tui Talia, Henry Mondeaux, T.J. Daniels and Jalen Jelks will round out the defensive line rotation.

A solid linebacking core returns to help stabilize what may once again be one of the top defenses in the nation. Fifth-year seniors Tyson Coleman, Joe Walker, Rodney Hardrick, and Christian French will provide the type of leadership necessary in a group of backers which will be required to defend the wide open offenses of the Pac-12.

The defensive backfield returns a wealth experience in the trio of safeties Reggie Daniels, Tyree Robinson and cornerback Chris Seisay.

Special Teams:

Missed field goals hurt the Oregon special teams a season ago.

Unable to consistently connect from distance, Oregon often found itself going for it on fourth down. With an offseason to strengthen, Aiden Schneider hopes to improve his distance after connecting on 11 of 12 attempts a season ago.

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A young explosive return team will continue to put pressure on defenses by shortening the field. As a freshman Charles Nelson averaged over 15 yards per punt return, with two returned for scores, and 19 yards per kick return.

Threat Level: Very High

The departure of Heisman trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariotta to the NFL in no way diminishes the threat these two teams pose to one another in a quest for a berth in this year’s playoff.

The Ducks have shown an ability to do what only the truly elite teams are able to do, they reload, retool and refire.

The two teams having not squared off in either of the two prior seasons due to the rotating schedule, further adds to the intrigue.

In the last meeting in 2012, they combined for 113 points and were separated by 11. This fall, the contest should be even more tight and just as exciting.