Not Enough Time? Score More!

The Oregon Ducks (6-2, 4-1) travel to the Bay Area this weekend for a regionally televised ABC game against the California Bears (5-2, 3-1) with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Pacific. The two teams are still in the hunt for a trip to the Rose Bowl, but no one at Oregon has even mentioned post-season play as they prepare for one of the toughest games of the season.

During his weekly media conference on Tuesday at the Casanova Center, Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti had great praise for the Bears and said he thought California has one of the best offensive lines he's seen this year. Calling the Bears "dominant" the Oregon coach felt Cal has a pair of running backs that are cause to stay up late at nights worrying.

"Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen are two really good running backs," said Bellotti of the Cal players. "Jahvid Best is probably the most explosive player in the Pac-10 Conference."

Cal is No. 3 in the Pac-10 in scoring at 37.9 points per game, third in points allowed at 21.7 and ranks third in the Pac-10 with a .714 winning percentage. Oregon is second in the Pac-10 at .750 behind USC with a 6-2 overall record and 4-1 in the conference and .857 percentile. Best is second in the conference in rushing averaging 107.2 yards a game with six touchdowns and a long run of 86 yards. Vereen is seventh on the Pac-10 list with a 70.6-yard average, scoring twice with a long of 81 yards.

Bellotti didn't stop there as he also gave some love to the Cal line, and particularly one that has some Duck roots.

"Alex Mack is one of the best football players in the nation," remarked Bellotti. "Mitchell Schwartz, who is the younger brother of our guy Geoff, is starting at their left tackle position as a red shirt freshman, that's pretty impressive."

The Cal offensive line has protected quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley to the tune of 409.7 yards a game this season, 232.3 yards of that through the air. Riley, the former Beaverton High School star, actually has the higher passing average at 164.2 yards compared to Longshore's 90.1 yards per game.

Cameron Morrah is the Bear's top receiver with 20 catches for 259 yards (37 yards per game) and six touchdown receptions. Best is second on the receiver list with 19 grabs for 194 (32.3 yards average), and Vereen third at 15.9 yards per game on 17 catches and 111 yards.

One statistic that the Ducks are dead last in the conference is time of possession (26:15), but that might be a good thing. While the Ducks are not on the field as much as other teams, Oregon is leading the conference in scoring (41.5) total offense (474.9) and rushing (278.8). Something else that is effected by the time of possession stat is the Duck defenders are out on the field more so that means some defensive categories are bit eschewed.

"We're number one in offense and last in time of possession," Bellotti commented. "Last game we slowed down the ball for the entire fourth quarter and still lost the time of possession by two minutes."

Bellotti feels that the no-huddle offense puts a great deal of pressure on the opposition but it also does the same to Oregon's defense because they have to be back out on the field more. Bellotti points out there is "no question that they (the Oregon defense) are seeing more plays" and while getting more defensive stops will get the defenders off the field faster, still it would be hard to tell the offense to slow down in scoring.

"The easiest way is to get yourself off the field, but if the other team because you score so fast is getting more opportunities and we don't take a lot of time off the clock, it does put more stress on our defense," explained Bellotti. "I think our defense has held up very well in that regard."

For the second game this season Oregon will face a coaching staff that has strong ties to Oregon. California Head Coach Jeff Tedford was the Duck offensive coordinator for four years. Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory spent two tours at Oregon, first as a graduate assistant from 1989-90 and then 98-00 as defensive back coach. Ron Gould (Oregon Class of '88) played for the Ducks and was a graduate assistant during ‘90-91 seasons. Receiver coach Dan Ferrigno joined the Bears for one season following the 2006 campaign after spending several seasons at Oregon in the same capacity.

"Last year Cal had a member of our staff who was part of our transition in the offense from the pro style to the spread," said Bellotti of the familiarity of Cal's coaching staff with Oregon. "So they had some in-depth knowledge of why and how we did things, although we had changed some things by bringing in Chip Kelly. Now they have all the film but they don't have the intimate knowledge of what we do offensively."

Defensively Cal still has knowledge of what Oregon likes to do. While the Ducks are different on defense in some ways, Bellotti and his staff have not totally gone away from their basic defensive philosophy, basic techniques and understanding.

"We've changed a little bit this year in the course of the season but we will throw up some things that will look like some old things but are really not," admitted Bellotti. "We'll try to do some things on both on offense and defense that nobody has ever seen before."

Oregon is fresh off an impressive 54-20 road win over Arizona State, but Cal also had a big win last week against UCLA in a 41-20 home win. Cal beat ASU earlier in the season 24-14 while Oregon was able to hold on to win at Autzen Stadium against the Bruins 31-24 on October 11th.

While Oregon is holding onto second place in the Pac-10, no one asked Bellotti about post-season play during the weekly media conference. Likewise Bellotti offered no discussion about anything more than the California game. Oregon's big win last week was another step along the way this season and while some may be thinking about what might happen after the season is over, the Ducks are focused on the task at hand -- the California Golden Bears.

The game this week will be carried live regionally on ABC and a special Watch Party is slated at Hayward Field sponsored by the ASUO. The viewing is open to the public and a donation of two non-perishable food items is requested for admittance.




eDuck Top Stories