24 Hours To Game Day: Portland State

Before hitting Pac-10 conference play, the 5th-ranked Oregon Ducks hope to move to 3-0 Saturday as they face off against their FCS neighbors to the north in Portland State.

2-0 and riding a big wave of confidence, conventional thinking would suggest that the Ducks will receive a nice confidence booster this upcoming weekend when they face FCS opponent Portland State at Autzen Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Vikings head into Saturday's game with a 1-1 record; notching a 41-33 win over UC Davis last weekend after getting run by Arizona State 54-9 down in Tempe two weeks ago. Though the Vikings don't figure to pose much of a threat to the 5th-ranked Ducks, they do run an unconventional offense and play a spirited brand of defense that could pose problems early if Oregon fails to lock itself in mentally.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Vikings employ a "pistol" offense formation the majority of time. The pistol, a modified version of the shotgun offenses that populate the college football landscape, lines the quarterback approximately 3 yards behind center, with a running back typically positioned just behind or beside the quarterback. Like the spread offense, the pistol can be either run or pass based, though it appears the Vikings have been rather balanced in their attack through two games this season. When asked why the pistol has become such a popular offensive philosophy as of late, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly admitted that he wasn't sure.

"I don't know what makes it the trendy thing," said Kelly. "I know Nevada has done a tremendous job with it, but I don't know anyone else who has implemented it and it's been ‘Oh my God.' It hasn't taken the full effect yet...(Portland State) isn't pulling as much (with their linemen) as Nevada and they don't have as many man schemes that Nevada has. They're running more zone plays...they're not as similar to Nevada as we thought they would be after breaking down their film."

Perhaps the Vikings' most potent offensive weapon is their kicker. Sophomore Zach Brown is one of the top placekickers at the FCS level, rarely missing from 50 yards and in. Against UC Davis last Saturday, Brown was responsible for 17 of the Vikings 41 points, converting 4 field goals, 3 extra points, while also running in a two-point conversion.

Defensively, Portland State has seen good production from junior safety Manoa Latu, junior defensive end Carl Sommer and sophomore linebacker Joel Sisler, who each lead the Vikings in tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions, respectively.

Kickoff between the Ducks and the Vikings is set for 3:15 PST from Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

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