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Opponent Analysis: Potent Ducks employ familiar offense for Cats

By Kyle Kensing
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 21, 2005
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Oregon is riding its second three-game winning streak of 2005 heading into Arizona Stadium for tomorrow's matchup with the Wildcats.

The Ducks surpassed their 2004 win total Saturday with a 45-21 drubbing of Washington and, as one of the nation's most consistent programs over the last decade with a 86-41 overall record, has re-established itself after failing to make the postseason last season.

Credit for Oregon's resurgence should go in no small portion to its offense, which boasts seven returning starters from last season, led by senior quarterback Kellen Clemens.

"We're expecting to see a lot of the same we saw from Utah and Purdue, that same sort of option," said Arizona senior defensive end Copeland Bryan.

Despite losing offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to Utah in the offseason, Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton have maintained the spread-option offense that boosted the Ducks to a 2001 Pacific 10 Conference crown.

This season, the option set has allowed Clemens to pass for an average of 340 yards per game and 19 touchdowns.

His 7,368 career passing yards are third on Oregon's all-time list, trailing Bill Musgrave and Danny O'Neill.

Oregon 2005 Record:
6-1, 3-1 Pac-10

Players to watch:

  • Kellen Clemens (QB):
    175-of-271, 2,219 passing yards,
    18 touchdowns,
    three interceptions
  • Demetrius Williams (WR):
    41 receptions, 772 yards
    (18.8 yards per catch),
    eight touchdowns

The senior has also accrued 270 total yards rushing, second on the roster to senior tailback Terrence Whitehead.

"(Clemens) moves well," Bryan said. "If we give him the chance, he will tuck the ball in and run. We have to make sure (to) keep leverage on him and his backs."

The Arizona defense has had difficulty containing teams on the ground in its two encounters with option teams this season, both losses to Utah on Sept. 2 and Purdue on Sept. 17.

In each contest, the opposing offense went for over 200 yards rushing.

"We watched a lot of film on them, and they're not doing anything we haven't already seen this late in the season," Bryan said of the Ducks. "We're making adjustments to correct the mistakes we've made in the past."

Arizona is coming off a solid defensive showing last weekend in a 20-16 loss to Stanford. The Wildcats held the Cardinal to just 195 yards of total offense and one scoring drive of more than 50 yards.

The team will need more of the same effort against an Oregon offense, whose 487.3 yards per game of total offense ranks sixth in the nation.

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said the spread-option, which with multiple wide receivers and a shotgun base set has become more prevalent in college football in the last few seasons, is an answer to teams stacking defenders near the line of scrimmage.

"It's a great neutralizer to numbers put in the box," he said. "It's a very well-conceived offense."

Sophomore cornerback Antoine Cason said the key to limiting Oregon's production begins at the line of scrimmage.

"Our (defensive) line and linebackers need to stay disciplined and stay on the quarterback," he said.

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