Ducks to Depend on Defense

Chris Petersen is returning to Autzen Stadium this weekend to meet the Oregon Ducks (3-0, 1-0). Petersen, now the head coach of the Boise State Broncos (2-0), left Eugene after the 2000 season following a six-year stint as wide receivers coach.

"I have great respect for Chris Petersen," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti about the BSU coach. "For he and his family, all the things they went through and also for his football prowess."

After Petersen left, Bellotti made several attempts to persuade Petersen to return to Oregon as the offensive coordinator. Now as a head coach, Bellotti describes Petersen as a creative young man who can recruit and identify talent. Bellotti said he is very happy for Petersen and what he has accomplished at Boise State.

The Ducks will be facing a team that likely will concentrate on running the ball and for good reason, they have an exceptional running back in Ian Johnson. Johnson has over 3,600 career-rushing yards and a career 5.7 yard-per-carry average. Johnson, 6-0 196, in his senior year has 186 yards so far in two games and has punched the ball into the endzone three times. Bellotti compares him to another Johnson he knows.

"He's comparable to Jeremiah Johnson in a sense," said Bellotti of Ian Johnson. "He's fast, he's quick, a mover. He's not a power back. He's more comfortable on the edge but he will run it up on the inside. He's got finishing speed that scares you because if he gets away, he's gone."

Last week when the Broncos downed Bowling Green 20-7, BSU had a total of 340 yards on offense. Johnson rushed for two touchdowns and freshman quarterback Kellen Moore scored the other one. Moore will be making his third career start when he comes into the rowdy confines of Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Last week Moore went 18-for-23 for 180 yards. Moore ranks 10th nationally in passing efficiency (182.7). Jeremy Childs is the go-to guy for Moore. Childs had five receptions last week for 79 yards, but in 2007 he had a total of 82 catches for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns.

For the season BSU is averaging 195 yards per game rushing and 226 yards passing for a total of 461 yards per game, while only allowing an average of 257 yards of total offense in the first two games.

To counter BSU's potent offense the Ducks are counting on the defense to do the job.

"We've come to rely on our defense. We've talked about that a lot. They have pride in themselves, it doesn't matter who we play, and our goal is to stop the run and make a team one-dimensional, that is our premise going into every game.

Oregon also wants to get back into the positive column in the turnover-take away equation. The Ducks talk about not giving up explosion plays and, except for the 80-yard touchdown run last week on the second snap of the game, the Ducks have been successful in doing so.

Bellotti mentioned how the Oregon defenders caused Purdue to kick field goals last week instead of getting touchdowns, and in a way that was a victory for Nick Aliotti's charges. Last week, the Purdue Boilermakers were 4-of-6 in field goal attempts.

The Ducks on the other hand are averaging 567 yards per game in offense and giving up 318 yards on defense.

Bellotti talked a bit about Chris Harper and what the Duck coaching staff saw in him when he was recruited. Harper was also a star on the hardwood and it was the quality of being the type of player that could take over a game that intrigued the Ducks.

"We saw Chris Harper in basketball last year," related Bellotti. "I had two coaches go out and watch him play basketball and came back and said he can take over a game."

According to the Oregon head coach, Harper possesses that rare quality of being able to be tasked to make something happen in a game – and then do so. Last week Harper led the final touchdown drive in overtime. While the first play of the second overtime period was not what the coaches wanted, Harper directed the rest of the drive flawlessly.

Bellotti also talked about Jaison Williams' dropped passes and indicated that, while there were some miscues, the coach firmly believes Williams will leave Oregon as the all-time leader in several categories. The coach pointed out that both sides of the contest dropped passes and that the Oregon receivers would work on catching the ball in practice this week.

Notes: Bellotti said that Justin Thompson has not yet enrolled at the University. When asked about the fact that Thompson was in Corvallis last weekend the coach had little to say.

"Well that's closer than L.A.," laughed Bellotti. "He still has some academic issues."

Bellotti indicated that Thompson is still bound by the National Letter of Intent he signed last February and would not become eligible for further recruiting unless he failed to gain entry at Oregon.

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