What does Oregon get because of its troubles following a reduction a week at home against Stanford? : A road game against a better version of the Cardinal.
The Ducks play in No. 11 Utah Saturday at Salt Lake City, Utah, and on paper have no chance to win, or perhaps remain close. So much so the 14-point spread seems to be an insult to Utah by about 10 points.
Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) will roll into Utah (8-2, 5-2) with the second-worst rushing defense in the Pac-12 at 255.4 yards allowed per game to face the hottest rushing attack in the conference.
“Same thing as last week, actually,” Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said. “You’ve got to stop the run. There is little doubt about it.”
Oregon hasn’t stopped the run . Not even against UC Davis and Virginia in what seems like beams ago. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey ran rampant a week, scoring three touchdowns as the Cardinal, owners of the worst offense in the conference, averaging 340 yards per game, put up 540 yards of total offense on the Ducks.
Utah, averaging 433.7 yards per game is much better on offense than Stanford thanks to the wonderful performances of running Joe Williams. He”retired” for four games to begin the season only to be spoken back into playing. Since his return, Williams has averaged 216 total yards and 156.5 yards rushing per game. He’s gained 939 racing yards on 7.0 yards per carry.
“He is possibly the most explosive and also the quickest of any of the backs we’ve had here as far as a home run-type back that can extend the distance away from anywhere on the field,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters this week.
To make matters worse for Oregon, Williams runs behind a veteran offensive line.
“They’re bodily upfront,” Hoke said. “Quite senior-oriented offensive line with three guys up there which have played a great deal of football.”
The Ducks would be the contrary with one senior starting on a young defense that’s rotated through 14 defensive linemen this season.
“We had a fantastic week of practice, same thing we did the week before,” Hoke said. “Our men have come out and struggled , and been physical every time we go to the area.”
That intensity hasn’t translated into powerful performances on game days. Saturday will probably be no different.
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