Last year Marcus Mariota threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns and was aided by a stout Oregon defense that only allowed the Spartans 3-points in the second half of the game. Of course Mariota is now with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL so the quarterback chores fall to transfer graduate student Vernon Adams who made his first start as a Ducks last week against Eastern Washington, his old team. Adams had a good outing throwing two touchdowns on 246 yards of passing. He also ran for 97 net yards.
Defensive coordinator Don Pellum said that the Duck defenders missed too many opportunities to make plays last week. Pellum says this week the Oregon defense has had a good week and has refocused and the players understand that they must have a “sense of urgency” if they are to have success against the Spartans.
Heading into this game which will be the National Game of the Week, the question will be, just how much can the Oregon defense regain its composure? Judging by last week’s game, the Oregon offense still looks like a Juggernaut, but will the Oregon defense show up?
Pellum says the Oregon defense had a good week of practice, working on fundamentals such as tackling and positioning. He also thinks the team has refocused on finishing plays and understanding that they are in for a big challenge on the road.
This game will be an opportunity for players like DeForest Buckner to rise to call and lead his teammates in a very difficult environment against a team who feels they have a score to settle.
Kick off for the ABC televised game is 5 p.m. (Pacific).