1. Establish Bryan Bennett's Confidence
Though no official determination has been made on quarterback Darron Thomas' availability (or lack there of) for Saturday's game at Colorado, folks should expect to see redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett make his first collegiate start at quarterback for the Ducks. Handed the keys to Oregon's Lamborghini of an offense after Thomas went down with a knee injury early in the second half against No. 18 Arizona State, Bennett performed admirably for a player thrust in to the spotlight during one of the most critical moments of the season. In a little less than two quarters of play, Bennett rushed for 71 yards on six carries while going 2-of-5 passing for 22 yards; executing Oregon's offense more or less flawlessly en route to a dominant 20-3 run to close out the 41-27 victory over the Sun Devils last Saturday. If Bennett is to make his first start against the Buffaloes, the key could be to start him off slowly so he can gradually build confidence as the game progresses. Short and intermediate throws, coupled with a heavy dose of handoffs and designed quarterback runs could do the trick, as they seemed to work quite well against ASU. As long as Bennett plays within himself, stays healthy and relies on the wealth of playmakers around him, the Ducks should be able to navigate their way to a rather decisive win.
2. Limit The Self-inflicted Mistakes
On a number of occasions this season, Oregon has had drives ruined by silly penalties and/or turnovers. Fortunately for Oregon, outside of the LSU game, it has't affected them all that much. On the road against a wounded and hungry opponent though, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and the Ducks can't allow for that to be a thorn in their side, particularly if Oregon is elects to go with Bennett at quarterback. Through six games, the Ducks have been one of the most penalized teams in the Pac-12 Conference, tying for ninth in the league with 7.8 penalties per game. Establishing continuity and flow will go a long way in easing Bennett in to the game and keeping him out of situations where there's too much on his plate. Oregon's ability to avoid penalties and turnovers could make it near impossible for Colorado to pose much of a threat.
3. Remain Healthy
There's virtually nothing anyone can do to prevent the common injuries that occur in the game of football, so staying healthy is more luck and fortune than anything else. With that said however, Oregon can't exactly afford to suffer too many more bumps and bruises to positions such as quarterback, running back and defensive line. Though their depth hasn't failed them yet, critical road tests against Washington and Stanford loom on the horizon, thus remaining healthy and of course, getting wins, the next two weeks against Colorado and Washington State is essential to the potential successes that may lie ahead.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
3 Keys To Colorado
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