Oregon Preview

Saturday night's showdown between then Ducks and Sun Devils shapes up to be an important swing game for both schools. The loser goes into the second half of the season needing some help from other teams so this game could go a long ways in determining bowl placement at the end of the year. This game could be the difference between a Holiday or Sun Bowl invite and a Las Vegas Bowl bid. Dirk Koetter is 3-1 against the Bellotti-lead Ducks since arriving in Tempe.

OREGON DUCKS

2005 Record: 4-1 (1-1 in Pac-10)
Head Coach: Mike Bellotti (10 years)
Offensive Coordinator: Gary Crowton
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Aliotti

OFFENSE

* Projected Starters
RB Terrence Whitehead (Sr)
QB Kellen Clemens (Sr)
WR Cameron Colvin (So)
TE Tim Day (Sr)
LT Max Unger (Fr)
LG Josh Tschirgi (So)
C Enoka Lucas (Jr)
RG Palauni Ma Sun (Jr)
RT Geoff Schwartz (So)
HB Dante Rosario (Jr)
WR Demetrius Williams (Sr)

New offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has installed a spread-option offense that can put up big numbers. It all starts up front with triggerman Kellen Clemens. The senior quarterback can run and pass the ball well. His 139 yards on the ground are good enough to place him as the team's second leading rusher. Clemens has connected on 119 of his 184 pass attempts and intercepted only once. The senior has thrown for 12 touchdowns and and is averaging 303 yards through the air. Backing him up is Dennis Dixon. The sophomore is 14 of 18, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.

Clemens has a group of capable receivers to assist him in the air. His number one target is senior wideout Demetrious Williams, who leads the Ducks with 33 ctaches and 5 touchdowns. Williams' 114 yards per game average is about double that of James Finley's 53 yards. Finley does have 24 catches on the year but has yet to hit paydirt. Sophomore Cameron Colvin has scored twice on 11 of his balls caught. Two very solid tight ends are also in the passing mix. Tim Day and converted fullback Dante Rosario both have great hands. Rosario already has 2 scores and is utilized in the redzone. Garren Strong and Kyle Weatherspoon each have 7 catches.

Typically, the Ducks have a stronger ground game but some of the slack has been taken up by Clemens with the option. Terrence Whitehead is a very capable runner and can grind out some surprising yards without looking too flashy. The senior is expected to get more carries this week after an injury has slowed him. Whitehead has 177 yards and 1 score. Highly touted freshman Jonathan Stewart has also been a little dinged up, playing in only 3 games. Stewart and Terrell Jackson share the rest of the workload in the backfield.

DEFENSE

* Projected Starters
DE Devan Long (Sr)
DT Haloti Ngata (Jr)
DT Matt Toeaina (Jr )
DE Darius Sanders (Sr)
LB AJ Tuitele (So)
LB Brent Haberly (Jr)
ROV Patrick Chung (Fr)
CB Justin Phinisee (Sr)
FS JD Nelson (Jr)
SS Anthony Trucks (Sr)
CB Aaron Gipson (Sr)

Defensive end Devan Long and tackle Haloti Ngata are among the best defensive line duos in the conference. The pair have started off a little slow this year, partly due to Long's health, but turned in a good game last week at Stanford. Ngata, a junior, has notched 19 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Long has combined for 10 stops but has only played in 3 of Oregon's 5 games. The other two spots on the line are manned by junior tackle Matt Toeaina and senior defensive end Darius Sanders. Each of them has a pair of sacks and have combined for 22 tackles. Freshman Cole Linehan and sophomore David Faaeteete provide some relief in the middle, while junior Victor Filipe comes off the bench at the end spot.

Depth at the linebacker position has been a sore spot for the Ducks over the last couple of seasons. Luckily for them, Aliotti's defensive scheme uses two linebackers and a safety-linebacker hybrid. Patrick Chung, a freshman, is at that rover spot this season. Chung has accrued 30 tackles, one shy of linebacker AJ Tuitele's total on the year. Junior Brent Haberly lines up at the other side of Tuitele and has 22 tackles on the season. True freshman Blair Phillips has been called to action already at the position. The Louisiana native has 7 tackles on the year. Rounding out the depth is senior Justin Andrews, who brings in a 4 tackle total into the game. Senior Rodney Woods, 2 interceptions, can also back up Chung at the rover spot.

The pass defense for the Ducks has been much maligned. 3 seniors start in the Duck secondary, safety Anthony Trucks, and cornerbacks Justin Phinisee and Aaron Gipson. Trucks brings in 31 tackles, 3 of those being for a loss and a sack. Phinisee and Gipson have made quite a few tackles but that's a result of teams passing on the secondary. The two have a combined 45 tackles, but have also made more plays this season with 5 interceptions. Gipson has 4 of those takeways. At free safety, JD Nelson is the team leading tackler with 36 stops. Jackie Bates will see a decent amount of minutes at corner, as well. The sophomore has 17 tackles and one interception. Two sophomores come off the bench at safety, Ryan DePalo and Kwame Agyeman.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Matt Dragich (Jr)
K Paul Martinez (Jr)

PR Justin Phinisee (Sr)
KR Sharrod Davis (Fr)

The punting duties have been shared between juniors Matt Dragich and Aaron Knowles. Dragich has punted the ball 10 times for a 33 yard average. He's placed 40 percent of his punts inside the 20 yard line. Knowles has put up better numbers in fewer attempts. In his 6 kicks, his punts go for an average of 40 yards, with his longest going for 52 yards. Kicker Paul Martinez has been pretty solid in his duties and is a legitimate weapon from long distance. The junior is 6 of 7 in field goal attempts from 40 or more yards out. However, Martinez seemingly struggles a little more with the shorter distance kicks and is 11 of 15 on PATs.

Senior cornerback Justin Phinisee is the main punt returner for the Ducks. Phinisee has returned 11 kicks for 88 yards. His longest return of the year went for 28 yards. Kick returner Sharrod Davis has gone for 135 yards on 6 kicks and is averaging 22 yards each time. Tailback Jonathan Stewart has given the fans a flash returning 1 of his 3 kicks. Stewart took it 83 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore Andiel Brown is also utilized in the return game on punts and kicks.

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