Arkansas State will have a daunting task in its season opener against the No. 5 Oregon Ducks this upcoming Saturday night in Eugene in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. central time.
It will be the head coaching debut of Arkansas State Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn.
Oregon isn't new for Malzahn and the majority of his coaching staff, Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Auburn, when the Tigers defeated the Ducks in the National Championship two years ago.
Malzahn is quick to point out that he believes that this year's Oregon defense is even better than it was two years ago.
"Watching them on video, I really think they are a much tougher defense than they were two years ago, I thought they were really good then," Malzahn said last week. "They are very talented and one of the bigger defensive units in the country."
AStateNation.com visited with several of Oregon media members to get their thoughts on the Ducks upcoming season opener. Several of Oregon's beat writers agreed on Malzahn's assessment of Oregon's defense.
"Our defense is definitely bigger than they were two years ago," EDuck.com Publisher Steve Summers shared. "Oregon will play at least 20 players on the defensive side of the ball. They are rotating fresh guys in all of the time, depth is definitely a strength for the Ducks."
According to Summers, Oregon's defensive line will feature some of the bigger players in the country from a physical standpoint.
"We have at least three guys 6-foot-7 or taller," Summers said. "Oregon will be really fast off the edges. A couple of guys you can expect to see a lot will be true freshmen DeForest Buckner (6-foot-7, 270-pounds) and Arik Armstead (6-foot-9, 300-pounds).
Aaron Fentress, the Duck's beat writer for the Oregonian agrees that Oregon's defense will be very talented this fall.
"Their defense is going to be really good," Fentress said. "They are definitely probably more athletically gifted that Oregon's defense was two years ago. All four of our linebackers will most likely end up in someone's NFL training camp next spring. Depth is definitely going to be a strength for this team."
According to Fentress, having quality depth is vital for Oregon, especially with the Duck's fast pace offensive attack.
"Oregon's defense is on the field so long in a game because of how fast the offense scores," Fentress said. "They will definitely rotate a lot, they will at least go two deep if not more. Oregon's offense either scores in two minute or less or punts in less than two minutes, leaving the Duck's defense on the field for a long time."
One statistic that backs that up is the fact that Oregon led the conference in scoring last fall while they were last in the Pac 12 in time of possession.
According to Oregon's AP Beat Writer Anne Peterson, there hasn't been a lot of buzz so far about the Arkansas State game.
"All of the buzz has really been about the starting quarterback position," Peterson said. "No one is really expecting Arkansas State to come in to Autzen stadium and win against the No. 5 team in the country. I'm sure everyone will be talking more about Arkansas State this week leading up to the game."