How Will The Backups Answer The Call?

One week removed from the 57-34 win over Arkansas State, and there's still some unknowns regarding the University of Oregon Ducks (1-0).

The fact is, we won't know too much more about Oregon until conference play starts. While this week's opponent, Fresno State, will likely put up a tougher fight against the Ducks on Saturday afternoon, they aren't the same team that gave teams like USC problems on a weekly basis. Yes, they beat Weber State 37-10, but a Big Sky opponent isn't exactly similar to playing a Pac-12 one.

So what do we know? The first-string offense has the potential to be scary effective. The evidence lies in the 50-3 lead the Ducks accrued over 23 minutes against the Red Wolves, that saw early exits for DeAnthony Thomas, Kenjon Barner and new quarterback Marcus Mariota (read-it like "Super Mario" they tell us).

The first-string defense is living up to its potential as possibly being the best the school has ever produced. True freshmen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead looked intimidating and played well, and the veteran core helped them stifle the Red Wolves to a measly 10 first half points.

All was well with the starters. The backups? Well that's a different story.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti had some harsh words for the backups last weekend during the postgame, where he said: "There was a great lesson to be learned. When you get the opportunity, you've got to step up."

Indeed, the 24 points given up in the second half left a sour taste in some mouths, but head coach Chip Kelly didn't seemed worried, acknowledging that mistakes are going to happen in a glass half full sort of mentality. But, even Kelly's offense stalled for most of the second half as the explosive big plays and rapid fire scoring was reduced to a grind-it-out effort. Oregon managed only seven points after Mariota led the Ducks to seven straight touchdowns before leaving the game.

Essentially the second half was sloppy at best, but with the game out of reach there wasn't any concern. However, Oregon's strength since Kelly took over has been its depth and the ability to substitute players seamlessly and not sacrifice any of the speed and aggression that they're known for. Against the Red Wolves, the Ducks gave up several big gains and frankly didn't look all that aggressive.

Luckily for the backups, they should get another shot. The final two non-conference games should give Oregon the luxury of seeing which bench players can play effectively and be relied on once conference play rolls around. After last week's game, both Josh Huff and Kenjon Barner stated after the game that the new players need as many reps as they can get heading into conference play.

And should the starters call it an early day against the Bulldogs, the attention will shift to how much the backups will have an impact against a tougher opponent. The question is, how will they answer the call this week?

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