Our 2013 NCAA Football schedule continues this evening from Eugene as Oregon hosts Oregon State. We’ll have complete coverage beginning at 6:30 PM Eastern on our WestwoodOne affiliates coast-to-coast and streaming live right here on WestwoodOneSports.com!
To get you ready for The Civil War, our analyst Rocky Boiman, who will call the game, filed this scouting report on the Ducks and the Beavers:
In a nutshell: It has been a gutting last three weeks for the Ducks, who through the end of October looked like a wrecking machine, churning out yards, points and wins with historic fervor. But in early November came a beating at the hands of Stanford. Using a recipe of old-school power football, the Cardinal gave the nation the blueprint of how to beat the Ducks. Arizona, though not as powerful as Stanford, played smash-mouth style football and won in the trenches versus an Oregon team that looked lackadaisical, disinterested and half-hearted. Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for the high-flying Oregon football program? Is the dream of blur-speed scoring in shiny uniforms going out with a whimper? That remains to be seen, but this week in the Civil War versus rival Oregon State, Oregon has a chance to show the nation that the wheels haven’t come off and maybe more importantly, that they can deal with adversity and persevere through it.
Player I’ll Be Watching: Marcus Mariota, QB. Mariota has been dinged up recently, with both a lingering knee issue and a concussion last week. He had his first interception last week in 353 consecutive passes, but the loss to Arizona certainly wasn’t his fault. He still possesses all the athleticism, poise and fantastic decision-making that has made him a star all year long. This week may will be a defining moment for Mariota as he must do something more important than directing an offense. He must become a great leader and take this team on his shoulders, willing them to play inspired football. I think he has the traits to do it. Make no mistake, this will be a make-or-break moment for him.
What the Ducks need to do to win: Oregon got out-physicaled in its two losses, plain and simple. While I don’t believe the Ducks can immediately change their identity to a bruising, smash-mouth team, they do need to be tougher up front. Also, they need to stick to their script and that is to start fast and put a team in a three-score hole before they even know what hit them. Defensively, it looked as if guys were out of position at times against the Wildcats and were playing undisciplined in their run fits. Shore these things up and the Ducks can be flying high once again.
In a Nutshell: The Beavers are the second most disappointing team in the state of Oregon. After starting the season 6-1, they’ve lost four straight and were utterly embarrassed last week versus Washington in a 69-27 loss. They are led by their quarterback Sean Mannion, who is an efficient passer in this pro style offense when finding his favorite weapon, wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks is one of the most prolific receivers in college football and a sure-fire first-round pick next year. The problem is Oregon Stats’s run game, which started the season so well but is now non-existent, ranking 120th out of 123 BCS teams. They need running back Storm Woods to be just dangerous enough to make the offense two-dimensional.
Player I’ll Be Watching: The entire defense. I have been involved with football as a player or broadcaster for over 26 years and I have NEVER seen so many missed tackles in my entire life like OSU had versus Washington last week. That performance by the Beaver defense honestly had this old linebacker sick to his stomach. Poor angles, poor technique and poor effort. Washington had three running backs go for over 140 yards last week en route to 530 yards rushing. It’s one thing to give up yards, but to give up huge amounts on the ground is an attack on one’s manhood. Oregon will be looking to have a similar rushing attack this week. OSU better bring out the big-boy pads and man up.
What the Beavers need to do to win: If the Beavers can somehow find some balance on offense and give Mannion time to throw, he can be deadly with his accuracy. Their inability to protect may force OSU to move him outside the pocket, but that’s not what he’s best at. If it takes them max-protecting and running two- or three-man routes to give Mannion time, then that’s what they need to do. Defensively, the obvious is that guys need to be in better position and tackle much better.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Forget the stats, yards, points, etc., this game is all about HEART – an attribute not often mentioned when describing these two teams’ recent successes. Whichever squad shows the most has a chance to not only salvage a season, but possibly alter the future of an entire program.
– Rocky Boiman