Scouting Report: Oregon

The Wildcats are looking for revenge on the Oregon Ducks after the 63-28 thrashing last season. The Cats limp into the game with a host of injuries that will make pulling an upset even more difficult. The Ducks, in turn, come into the game 4-0 and had a bye last weekend to prepare for the start of Pac-10 play.

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Oregon Ducks at Arizona
4-0 (0-0) Ranked #7
Saturday, October 5th, 7:24 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Net
Radio: Tucson: 790 KNST; Phoenix: KKNT

Last Time Out:

ARIZONA: The Wildcats struggled in the red zone and narrowly defeated North Texas 14-9.
OREGON: The Ducks come off a bye week after crushing Portland State 41-0.

When Oregon has the ball:

The Ducks have one of the better offenses in the conference and Onterrio Smith is one of the keys. Smith is one of the nation's top runners, averaging 116.8 yards a contest. Smith is a strong runner who is dangerous in the open field.

"Onterrio Smith is a tough runner," Arizona coach John Mackovic said. "He has piston-like legs. We have to gear up and go after him."

The Ducks' high-powered offense is led by Jason Fife. Fife has made many forget Joey Harrington. Fife is a big, strong quarterback who can move in the pocket and has a strong arm. Fife has stepped in and continued the quarterback tradition started by Harrington and Akili Smith.

"They train their quarterbacks to play a certain way," Mackovic said. "He gets rid of the ball quickly. You won't see him stand in the pocket for a very long time.

The Ducks like to go for the end zone early and will try to get the big play early in the contest. If the Wildcats can survive the early onslaught then they may have a chance to hang around with the Ducks.

Arizona is severely dinged up on defense. Starting corner back Michael Jolivette is out while Luis Nunez and Darrell Brooks are questionable. This means that the Cats will rely heavily on David Hinton and Gary Love. True freshman Jason Martin could also get the call. All-American linebacker Lance Briggs is nursing a severely sprained ankle and joins Brad Brittain and Marcus Smith as front seven players who are questionable as well.

Arizona has struggled against the run and Smith could go for a big day against Arizona. The Wildcats will need to contain Smith if they have any chance to win. The defense that has shown up the last two weeks will not get it done.

Arizona will also try to put a lot of pressure on Fife in an attempt to pressure the junior quarterback. Fife has played great this season, but hasn't really been tested in his career. If the Cats can get to him they may be able to rattle the Duck signal caller.

When Arizona has the ball:

The Wildcats are in trouble. First off, their red zone offense has been poor all season long. Combine that with the way the Oregon defense has played so far and it could be a long day for the Wildcats.

The injury situation makes things even tougher. Arizona will be without Clarence Farmer who hurt his knee late in the game against North Texas. In his place will be Mike Bell, the redshirt freshman who has played well so far this season.

"Mike is ready for that (to fill in for Farmer). He has a nice feel for the run game," said Mackovic. "We have to be able to spell him."

Spelling Bell could be a problem. Third team tail back Gainus Scott is out for the next two months as well. The Cats are being tight lipped with who they will throw out there, so much so that they are closing practices to the media. Chris Harris and true freshmen Beau Carr are next on the depth chart, but full back Gilbert Harris and former back turned safety Anthony Fulcher are also possibilities.

The Cats will need Jason Johnson and the passing game to get back on track. The unit was spectacular in the first two games, but has struggled the past two weeks. Arizona must either score in the red zone or get enough big plays to keep them in the game.

The Oregon defense has been stellar all season long. Mackovic believes the unit is better than it was a year ago. The Ducks are very physical up front, yet have defensive backs who cover a lot of ground. The Wildcats will need better execution than has been seen in recent weeks if they hope to put up points on this unit.

OUTLOOK: This is a very difficult task for the Wildcats. Oregon appears to be a quality football team and wants to start their defense of the conference crown in fine fashion. There is no doubt that the Cats are underdogs and it will take a strong effort on both sides of the ball for them to be successful. A win is not out of the question, but with Oregon's talent and the injury situation it would be quite a feat.

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