Oregon Preview

Oregon (6-0) will play Arizona State (5-2) at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, October 19th, marking the first home game of the Pac-10 schedule. The Ducks seek their fifth straight win over the Sun Devils. Oregon is coming off a thrilling 31-30 win over UCLA last week to go 2-0 in the Pac-10 race while ASU defeated Oregon State 13-9 to also match a 2-0 start for the Pac-10 championship.

The Ducks run a balanced attack on offense and defensively want to stop the run and enjoy good field position based on strong special teams' play.

Potential Heisman Trophy candidate junior running back Onterrio Smith, 5-10, 204, is averaging 127.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns and a 4.9-yard- per- carry average. Smith had 152 yards on 25 carries last week against UCLA in the Ducks 31-30 win. Smith also has caught six passes for sixty yards and one touchdown this season. Senior Allan Amundson, 5-9, 185, backs Smith up and is considered the fastest running back on the Ducks roster with a reported 4.34 for the 40-yard dash. Amundson has carried the ball 29 times for 145 yards and one touchdown for the season. Freshman Terrence Whitehead made his inaugural run for the Ducks against UCLA with a 37-yard touchdown gallop. Whitehead also had a touchdown reception against Arizona the week before.

Oregon is deep at receiver with speedy and athletic receivers. Junior wide receiver Samie Parker, 5-10, 177 is a burner and has 26 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jason Willis, 6-1, 196, has not yet caught a career touchdown pass, but he may be the best receiver nationally that hasn't caught a touchdown pass. Willis for his career has 77 catches for 872 yards. This season Willis has 12 catches for 201 yards. Junior tight end George Wrighster, 6-4. 249, is one in a long line of highly accomplished Oregon tight ends that can block and catch passes. Wrighster so far this season has 19 catches for 212 yards and four touchdowns.

Senior Keenan Howry, 5-10, 170 was slowed at the beginning of the season with nagging injuries but in the Arizona game, Howry had two catches for 49 yards and one touchdown. For the season Howry has a total 15 catches for 261yards and two touchdowns. Howry has had at least one catch in 41 straight games. Howry is also a punt return specialist and had a 79-yard return for a touchdown last week. He has three punt returns for touchdowns in his career.

"Where's Keenan Howry?" remarked Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti during his weekly telephone conference. "He's (Howry) right there making plays."

Junior quarterback Jason Fife has only had to replace 'Captain Comeback' Joey Harrington and so far Fife has held his own. Fife has thrown for 1,326 yards, going 88 for 147 and a 59.9 completion percentage. Fife has 12 touchdowns and only one interception. Not bad comparing to Harrington's junior year stats after six games when the future first round NFL draft pick was 98 for 190 and five interception, 1340 yards, 10 touchdowns and a 51.6 completion percentage.

"He is a very efficient quarterback, said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti in his weekly telephone conference regarding Fife's play.

Oregon's offensive line has consistently mixed veterans with less experienced players. Senior guard/tackle Cory Chambers, 6-4, 296, has been slowed by injuries and was shaken up during the UCLA game. He is probable for the ASU game rotating in to the line-up. Senior tackle Phil Finzer, 6-5, 308, sophomore tackle Mike DelaGrange, 6-6, 345, sophomore tackle Adam Snyder, 6-6, 290, sophomore guard Nick Steitz, 6-4, 297, senior guard Joey Forster, 6-4, 292 and junior center Dan Weaver, 6-5, 278 have rotated to various positions in the line and have provided holes for 1,023 net rushing yards and 1,372 passing yards for the season.

"The whole thing is a work-in-progress," said Bellotti describing the offensive line.

Defensively, the motto of the Oregon defense all year has been 'Stop the Run' and for the season the Ducks defenders have allowed an average of only 82.8 yards per game of rushing through the first six games. The Ducks also have allowed an average of only 17 points per game while the Ducks offense has scored an average of 38.8 points per game. The Ducks have a young and huge defensive line and are able to rotate sophomore Igor Olshansky, 6-6, 296 DT/DE, sophomore defensive tackle Robby Valenzuala, 6-1, 294, DT.senior Kai Smalley, 6-2, 287, DT, junior Junior Siavii, 6-4, 335, DT, senior Darrel Wright, 6-4 258, DE, senior Seth McEwen, 6-5, 266, DE, sophomore Roderdus Wright, 6-4, 258, DT, senior Ed Wangler, 6-4, 275, DE/DT, and Haloti Ngata.

"The depth of our defensive line has been a key to success on defense," Bellotti remarked.

Bellotti believes that true freshman Ngata, 6-5, 333, has met all the coaches' expectations for his performance so far this season. Ngata was regarded as the No.1 defensive tackle coming out of high school last season. Last week, Ngata had two tackles, one solo and a tackle-for-loss of 12 yards. Ngata also had a blocked point after that proved to be the winning margin against UCLA.

"(Ngata is) becoming a dominant force," said Bellotti.

Ngata and Olshansky lead the defensive line in total tackles with 19 and 16 respectively. The Oregon defense has traditionally relied on linebacker play to make tackles, but with the size of the Oregon defensive line this year, more tackles are coming from up front. The Ducks have 19 sacks for the season and 41 tackles-for-loss. Linebackers junior Kevin Mitchell, 5-11, 210 and senior David Moretti, 6-1, 235 are the team leaders in total tackles (45, 46.) Safety junior Keith Lewis is the defensive backfield leader as well as the most vocal Duck. Lewis has 20 solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles this year.

One of the big question marks about the Ducks was the play of corner back. Junior Steven Moore, 5-9, 169 and freshman Aaron Gipson, 5-8, 170 have filled played well. Last week, while battling the tall UCLA receivers, the Duck corner backs were able to pick off three passes (two by Gipson and one by Moore) and able to make critical plays.

Kicker Jared Siegel made the Oregon history books by booting a 59-yard field goal against UCLA last week. Siegel is 12 or 13 for field goals this season and is the team leader in scoring with 61 points. Punter Jose Arroyo has a 41.4 average with a long of 61 yards and is 8 of 31 for punts being downed within the 20-yard line.

Oregon battle cry for the season has been "Play fast, play hard and have fun." Opening with six wins and being ranked sixth nationally is a good indication that the Ducks have been true to their mantra of success. A home win against Arizona State will give Bellotti his eighth straight winning season (he has not had a losing season since taking over as head coach at Oregon.) The Ducks can also record their 12th straight victory, their 39th home and the 67th victory during the Bellotti era. The Ducks are the defending Pac-10 Champion and finished No. 2 nationally last season and have a goal of winning the Pac-10 for a third straight year.

Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

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