Oregon Preview

Heading into the Arizona State game on Saturday, November 3, 2001 the Oregon Ducks will look to start a new winning streak at Autzen Stadium and run their record to 8-1 for the season and 5-1 in the Pac-10 race. The Ducks had a nation leading 23-game home win streak until losing to Stanford 49-42 two weeks ago. Oregon will welcome back Dirk Koetter a former Duck offensive coordinator along with Tom Osborne a former special teams coach for the Ducks.

Oregon is a well-balanced offensive team, and the Ducks and Sun Devils may look very similar in their approach to the game. Quarterback Joey Harrington has been called "Captain Comeback" because of the eight come-from-behind wins for the Ducks he has directed. Harrington is 19-3 overall as a starter. Harrington is a gifted leader that can rally the team and instill a sense that the Ducks will win. As Arizona State fans will probably remember from last season, given a minute and the ball Harrington can find a way to put the ball into the end zone. Senior tight end Justin Peelle and junior wide receiver Keenan Howry are Harrington's favorite targets. A one-two punch at running back feature senior Maurice Morris and sophomore Onterrio Smith.

Oregon has scored an average of 36.8 points per game while giving up 22.8 points per game. Morris has 729 yards for the season or 5.2 yard per carry average while Smith has 781 yards for the season for 7.7 yards per carry. Last week Smith set a new Oregon school record of 285 yards rushing against Washington State. Morris had 138 yards against the Cougars before leaving the game with a hamstring problem. The 446 yards rushing against Washington State who had been the Pac-10 leading rushing defense was also an Oregon school record for total yards rushing in a game. Smith was name Pac-10 Player of the Week for his performance against WSU. Morris is listed as likely against Arizona State.

Harrington has thrown for 1,796 yards so far this season with 16 touchdown passes. Harrington has also rushed for six touchdowns. Harrington has been a touted Heisman Trophy candidate. While his numbers have not necessarily been staggering, the subject of an 80-foot high billboard in Manhattan is a special quarterback and leader. Harrington has earned the nickname of "Joe College." During basketball season, Harrington can be seen in the student section at Oregon's McArthur Court wearing crazy wigs and thoroughly enjoying the college living experience. On the football field Harrington presents a cool, calm appearance and demonstrates a no-quit attitude that is infectious to his teammates. An interesting side note, Harrington is also an accomplished classical pianist.

Howry is the leading receiver in terms of catches with 35 receptions for 433 yards and has four touchdown catches. Peelle is the leading receiver with scoring catches with eight touchdowns. Samie Parker has 435 yards receiving this season and two touchdown catches. Howry is also the punt return specialist and returned a punt for a touchdown against Stanford. Smith returns kickoffs and has a 96-yard kick off return for a touchdown against Stanford. Jose Arroyo is the punter with a 39.0 yards per punt and a long of 58 yards. Jared Siegel is the field goal kicker and is five for eight for the season with a long of 46 yards.

Defensively the Ducks play a four-man front anchored by senior Zack Freiter. The Ducks rotate eight men on the defensive line. The Ducks have allowed 1,084 yards for the season or 135.0 yards per game. The leading tackler for Oregon is linebacker Wesly Mallard who runs a 4.5 40. Mallard made the game saving pass deflection in Oregon's win over Washington State. All First Team Pac-10 defensive back, senior Rashad Bauman is the defensive team leader. Steve Smith leads the team in interceptions with four. The Ducks have given up 297.8 yards per game passing. The one area that has concerned Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti is the fact that the Ducks have given up at least one big play per game. Over all though, prior to the season starting the Ducks were thought to be vulnerable against the rush. As the season has progressed the Ducks have displayed a bend but don't break type of defense. Last week's game against Washington State was a defensive struggle and the Ducks did not allow a touchdown for three quarters against a very productive Washington State team.

Will the Ducks run or pass against Arizona State? Most likely the Ducks will want to establish a run game and if they get a lead they most certainly will run the ball. Smith and Morris are both capable of having a 1,000-yard rushing season. Harrington is capable of throwing for more than 400 yards in a game. The Ducks have been in the Top-10 all season except for last week when they slipped to number 11. This week the Ducks returned to the Top-1 and are ranked eighth in the AP Poll. The other factor for the Arizona State game is the raucous home crowd at Autzen Stadium. The game will be sold out and the Ducks fans will be revved up to restart another home win streak. The Rose Bowl may be out of reach for the Ducks and any other Pac-10 team; a BCS Bowl game is still very much in reach for the Ducks. Oregon plays UCLA at the Rose Bowl after the Arizona State game and finishes the regular season at home against Oregon State on December 1, 2001.

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