USC Football: How the Oregon Offense Matches Up


USC football faces their stiffest test of the season on defense as they gear up to face Vernon Adams, Royce Freeman and the potent Oregon Duck offense.

RELATED: Ranking the USC Football Schedule By Threat Level

The Ducks possess the top offense in the conference in scoring and total yards and they’re operating at peak levels for perhaps the first time this season.

Here’s a look at the Oregon offense:

“Improvisational Jazz”

David Shaw compared Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams to “improvisational jazz” in the lead up to last weekends pivotal Pac-12 North match up. Adams himself says he has tried to model some of his play after Reggie Bush, the ultimate freestyle runner.

Whatever you choose to categorize Adams as, he is the danger man in the Oregon attack.

That’s not just because he has generated 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions during this four-game winning streak, throwing for 1,092 yards along the way.

It’s because, as Adams goes, so go the Ducks. In victories, Adams has maintained a passer rating of 179.85. In the two losses he has participated in, his passer rating was 119 with just two touchdowns to two interceptions. Granted, that was when the quarterback was contending with a broken finger, so it’s hard to tell what a bad day for Adams might look like without the physical strain.

Jan 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks wide receiver Darren Carrington (87) runs against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half in the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Returning to Action

The first half of the season was tough for the Ducks at receiver.

Last year’s leading target Byron Marshall was unproductive to start with and then suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Utah. After a stellar freshman season, Darren Carrington was serving a six-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana before the Duck’s appearance in national championship game. Fellow first-year star Devon Allen was slowly getting back to speed after tearing his ACL in January.

Now, things are looking up for Oregon with junior Bralon Anderson leading the way all season and Carrington already second on the team in receptions after just four games back in action.

The return of Adams at quarterback and Carrington at receiver seems to have rejuvenated the Ducks. Particularly, the addition of the sophomore’s big play ability added to an already explosive offense. Carrington is third in the Pac-12 this season in plays of 30+ yards. That’s with just a four-game sample size.

The contributions of Dwayne Stanford, who has caught four touchdowns in 18 receptions, have also boosted the Oregon passing attack.

Rolls Royce

As formidable as Oregon’s passing attack can be at times, it’s the rushing offense which provides the bedrock of their offense. In that sense, no player is as valuable to the Ducks as sophomore running back Royce Freeman.

Freeman leads the Pac-12 in rushing this season and has been named a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award as one of the top players in the country. He has been held below 100 yards just twice this season and only one team has limited him to under five yards per carry.

Though the Oregon running back has not been discussed among Heisman candidates — likely due to the Duck’s early season struggles — he has been no less effective than any of the country’s other leading running backs. And this week he will be facing a Trojan defense without their leading tackler in the middle of the defense.

What the stats say

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Projected starting lineups: USC football vs. Oregon

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