Duck Defense Want to Stop the Run

While the USC Trojans are talking about the Oregon running game, the Ducks are paying attention to a batch of former 5-star running backs that are the rushing corps for the Trojans. Oregon's defense has said all year long that they want to stop the run first and this week in Los Angeles at the Coliseum that desire will have a mighty challenge.

"First establish you can stop the run and make the quarterback beat you by throwing the ball," said Oregon senior Defensive Tackle Cole Linehan on the defensive plan against USC. "It's not going to be anything different this week."

Linehan will be making his first trip to the Coliseum. The last time Oregon ventured to the South Land, Linehan was banged up and unable to play in the game. This time though he and his teammates on the defensive side of the ball will have their hands full with the USC running backs. Joe McKnight, is due for a break out as he has been held to 175 yards rushing on 25 carries and no touchdowns. C.J. Gable has a touchdown but only 16 carries for 110 yards. Stafon Johnson is just a bit under 100 with 99 yards. He has carried the ball 20 times and also has scored once. Allen Bradford, a player the Ducks recruited heavily as a linebacker, has 14 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Don't let the low numbers fool you though. Coming out of high school McKnight was the No. 1 rated running back nationally, from River Ridge, La., and has tremendous breakaway speed. Gable, also a 5-star running back from Sylmar, Cal., was the nation's No. 4 back and is a very tough runner between the tackles. Stafon Johnson, a former teammate of Jeremiah Johnson when both were prep-stars at Dorsey High School, is the third 5-star back and was the #2 back nationally in 2006. Bradford was a 5-star linebacker that was switched to running back once he landed on campus.

All four of USC running backs are fast and durable. Add into the equation Mark Sanchez, who himself was the No. 1 quarterback (5-stars) nationally when he left Mission Viejo in 2005. Sanchez, a former teammate of Oregon's Nick Reed, is a very accurate passer and good athlete who can create something out of nothing when a play breaks down. It will take a great effort on the Oregon defense's part to keep this talented group at bay. What will the Ducks have to do to accomplish this?

"Speed, quickness, getting our eyes right," responded Spencer Paysinger to what Oregon must utilize in playing USC. "They like a lot of quick passes and play action."

The Duck defense has kept the competition to 100 yards of rushing per game this year and 230 yards of passing. Oregon has allowed 22.2 points per game to be scored against them while scoring at 47.4-points per game. Oregon will need the best effort of the year by the defenders to accomplish the major task of stopping USC's running game. However, looking at last year's game at Autzen, the Ducks did hold the Trojans to 101 yards rushing (this season's average) and 277 yards passing (47 yards more than this year's average).

Kickoff for Saturday's contest is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game will be carried regionally on ABC.

Cole Linehan's interview:

Spencer Paysinger's interview

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