Oregon Offensive Preview

Oregon's offense is the most dynamic one Arizona will see this season. Read on to see the players that Arizona will need to stop this weekend.

This Saturday, Arizona will face an Oregon team that has had its number for several years now. The Ducks will host the Wildcats in what should prove to be a very entertaining affair between two extremely impressive offenses.

Oregon is the perceived favorite, but the Wildcats have a more impressive resume thus far, which includes a 21-point victory over Oklahoma State.

It's also the first road test for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. The Wildcats head coach is looking to take his high-powered attack to Eugene and make a statement.

Arizona, a squad many dismissed before the start of the season, has looked like a completely different team under its new coaching staff.

Now the question is whether or not the Wildcats outlast another offensive juggernaut much like it did two weeks prior. It will be a tough task to accomplish on the road, but Arizona should prove to be a tough matchup for the Ducks.

Everyone knows that Oregon's offense is scary when it's playing at its best. The only real question the unit has is how freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota will handle his first real test of at the college football ranks.

He has been exciting to watch so far, proving to be a threat through the air as well as on the ground, but the Wildcats will be the toughest competition he has faced to date.

Luckily for Mariota, he has a plethora of weapons at his dispense, including a running back tandem of DeAnthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner. Both players have proven to be play-makers and could give UA's suspect run defense fits. Thomas also serves well as a target out of their backfield as he leads the Ducks in receptions and receiving yards.

The rest of the receiving core is a talented, deep, and young group whose speed can be a problem for Arizona's secondary. It's a very young unit outside of senior Rahsaan Vaughn and how they react to the Wildcats' approach in the secondary is going to determine how much success UO has with its passing game.

The offensive line is a little battered with the injury to senior guard Carson York, but still looked strong in his absence this past weekend. Given the lack of success along the defensive line this season from the Wildcats, the Ducks should be able to control the trenches when they are on offense.

Players to watch

#6 – RB, DeAnthony Thomas: The black mamba is a special athlete and will be given the ball often Saturday. He is the type of player that is so talented and impressive on the field, it's hard to imagine anyone stopping him. Containing him, however, is possible and that should be UA's goal.

#24 – RB, Kenjon Barner: Barner was impressive last season when he gave LaMichael James a rest and he is picking up where he left off last season. Barner is a shifty back who fits perfectly in Chip Kelly's scheme and provides Oregon with another back who can give the Arizona defense a ton of problems.

#8 – QB, Marcus Mariota: How will the freshman react to his first real Pac-12 action? That's the big question on Oregon's side of the ball. If he can continue to show why Ducks' fans believe he can lead them to a BCS bowl, UO will be very tough to defeat. He is very good as a passer and his athleticism is going to be on full display against the Wildcats.

Five Keys

1. Contain Thomas and Barner: Arizona is susceptible to the run and that's the Ducks' bread and butter. If UA can come out playing at a high level defensively, then it has a chance to contain the run and hinder Oregon's offensive attack.

2. Make Mariota nervous: Mariota can make plays with his feet and is pretty solid passer for an athletic type of quarterback. He is still a freshman, however, and he is unproven. The Wildcats don't need to worry about completely shutting down Mariota, but preventing him from having the types of games he had in non-conference play will go a long way in disrupting their attack.

3. Don't give up the big play: Oregon has known how to make big plays for years and still possesses the athletes to make that happen. It seems almost inevitable for Oregon to rack up the yards, but slowing up the pace it happens at would be ideal.

4. Cause turnovers: Against teams that don't pose any real defensive threat, Oregon has turned the ball over seven times in three games this season. That could be huge for Arizona, who has shown the ability to be opportunistic on the defensive side of the ball.

5. Pressure the backfield: Oregon's offense is often predicated on what occurs in the backfield. With a freshman under center who will rely heavily on his running backs, UA must figure out to get into UO's backfield and disrupt its attack.


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