Breaking Up is Hard to Do

When the No. 9 Oregon Ducks (4-1, 2-0) take on the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0) this Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, Chip Kelly would like to see his team convert some of the pass break ups the defense has created into turnovers. The showdown between Oregon and ASU starts around 7:15 p.m. (PT) for a national broadcast on ESPN and culminates another GameDay experience for the fans.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris (13) breaks up a pass to California Golden Bears wide receiver Michael Calvin (right) during the second half at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks beat the Golden Bears 43-15. Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE.

Last week, the Ducks did not have an interception against the California quarterbacks who threw the ball 60 times. In fact the Ducks have only three pickoffs all season long. However, Oregon did rack up 15 break ups of the 60 California pass attempts. Many of those break ups could have resulted in an interception if the defender held onto the ball.

"Obviously we want to see an improvement on the takeaway part of the game because a turnover can change the landscape of a game, but the fact we do have that many breakups tells you how close we are," said Chip Kelly of his defense's effort. "Sometimes the ball just bounces a crazy way in this game. You hope over the course of a season those things will iron themselves out and if they do that means we're up for a lot of turnovers coming our way pretty soon."

For the season, the Ducks have a total of 25 break ups and interestingly the least number of break ups was against Missouri State which only had one pass dislodged from a receiver. Of course that fact might be a bit misleading as Missouri State only threw the ball 15 times. Overall there have been 193 pass attempts made against Oregon this season with 103 of those attempts recorded as completions. So as it stands right now, roughly 27 percent of the incompletions were due to pass break ups. That's not a bad number considering if the defenders could have held onto the ball during the pass break up, the number of turnovers would be drastically increased and likely added to Oregon's point total, which by the way leads the Pac-12 (99 points or 49.5 ppg).

When looking at the passes defended category within the Pac-12 conference, four of the first nine names listed are Ducks. Cliff Harris, despite limited playing time is tied for first in the conference in passes defended with 2.5 per contest. Jon Boyett is fourth at 2.0; Terrance Mitchell and Avery Patterson are among four players who are tied at sixth in the conference for passes defended at 1.5 per contest. A little farther down the list, Eddie Pleasant is tied for 14th with 1.0. Even though the passes defended category consists of both passes deflected and intercepted, none of the Ducks in the statistical leadership has an interception this year, so to all of their numbers come from break ups.

Kelly doesn't think he's ever been in a game like last week's contest against Cal where there were so many break ups.

"If you can't intercept it, at least knock it down," conceded Kelly." Our guys are doing a good job and we've been very, very close in coverage."

Arizona State is sixth in the conference in passing at 291.7 yards a game. Quarterback Brock Osweiler is fourth on the conference passing list averaging 279.5 ypg on 142-of-213 passing with 13 touchdowns, but he has been intercepted six times. Overall, ASU quarterbacks have been sacked 17 times this year.

Kelly is confident that at some point this season there are going to be more interceptions, and he feels that the time is coming soon. He likes the effort his team is making and hopes that some of the break ups soon turn to interceptions, until then though he'll live with the surprising number of passes defended.

No one asked Kelly at his weekly media conference if he has heard the old Neil Sedaka standard, but likely Kelly knows Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

Notes: GameDay comes back to Eugene this weekend including a stop at Home Depot on Friday, October 14th. Click GameDay at Home Depot for more details.


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