Any team in college football that suffered the loss of their
four top offensive tackles and only had two linemen remain healthy through
their first seven games of the season would be in trouble. Luckily for Oregon
strong defense, great skill position players, and perhaps the best quarterback
at the collegiate level has kept the Ducks afloat entering the California (4-3)
matchup with a 6-1 record.
The return of senior offensive tackle Jake Fisher
coincided with the explosion in the Ducks’ running attack led by true freshman
Royce Freeman. In a 31-24 home loss to Arizona
without Fisher, the Ducks ran for a respectable 144 yards with Freeman leading
the way picking up 85 yards on 19 carries. Against UCLA in Fisher’s return, Oregon rushed for 328
yards dominating the Bruins front seven getting 121 yards and two scores from
Freeman and another 75 yards and two scores from Mariota.
A 45-20 home win over Washington
continued the heavy running trend getting another 218 yards on the ground with
Freeman becoming a workhorse adding 169 yards on 29 carries with four touchdowns.
Senior center Hroniss Grasu and guard Hamani Stevens have
helped hold down the offensive line while line coach Steve Greatwood was forced
to put a heavy load on freshman Tyrell Crosby and walk-on Matt Pierson. The
development of Cameron Hunt and Jake Pisarcik has made the Ducks deeper and a
step ahead in development for the 2015 season.
has the nation’s 15th ranked passing offense (309.7) and the 31st ranked
rushing offense (217.3). Cal
does a strong job of shutting down rushing attacks allowing just 133.3 yards
per game but is statistically the worst pass defense in the nation allowing 391.7
yards per game. One could argue that Cal has
not seen a rushing attack on the level of Oregon’s yet this year.
Come Friday plenty of offense will be on display. Whichever
defensive coordinator that can scheme up some stops after a week without sleep fretting
about the opposition’s offense will have their team in position to win.
at least their offensive line is returning to form. Having Fisher back
protecting Mariota’s blind side can only help elevate the Ducks’ passing
Photo credit: nfl.com; No. 75 Jake Fisher