The well-rested and hopefully "improved" Cardinal will aim to defeat its second ranked opponent of the season as the Oregon Ducks flock to Stanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
This week the No. 8-ranked Ducks, also sky-high after defeating the Trojans decisively on Halloween, will try to continue their surge as one of the premier programs in the country by ending Stanford's four-game home winning streak.
"Everybody is excited, this is a huge opportunity for us," running back Toby Gerhart said. "There isn't a feeling of fear around the locker room. This is an opportunity to make a name for ourselves and show we're moving up into the top tier of the Pac-10."
History does not bode
well for the home team, however. Stanford has dropped seven consecutive games to
The Ducks predominately run a version of the spread offense labeled the "read-option" offense. The team's most dynamic player, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, receives the ball in a shotgun formation and then determines the course of action after reading the zones.
"It's as well-executed an option game as you are ever going to see," Harbaugh said of Oregon's read-option offense. "And in any option game, you have to account for the dive, the quarterback and the pitch."
"You try to simulate it as best you can, but you can't do it at their tempo," he said.
In an attempt to emulate an elusive and speedy Masoli, the coaching staff has used a trio of players as the scout team quarterback. Alex Loukas, Michael Thomas and Tavita Pritchard have all donned a Masoli jersey this week.
"I just actually got
done watching the
Snyder also mentioned that "sure-tackling" will be imperative – an area Stanford has fallen short in during some games this season. Oregon's ground game thrives on missed tackles and exposed USC last week in that department.
The Cardinal offense also has a gameplan for tempering the Ducks offensive attack. Stanford has won the time of possession battle in six of eight games this season and will look to keep Oregon's offense off the field for extended periods of the game.
"They love getting plays in on offense; time of possession doesn't seem to be a big deal for them," quarterback Andrew Luck stated. "We don't want our defense out there too long so we definitely want to control the ball. I feel like we are going to work really hard on taking care of the ball and putting long drives together this week."
Stanford has amassed 76 points and 1,057 yards of offense during the last two games so Saturday's contest could turn into a shoot-out. The Ducks surrender 121.5 yards per game on the ground so this is one of the softer run defenses Stanford has seen in many weeks.
The Cardinal hope to
erase the painful memory of last season's game against
The last time
About the Author: Scott Cooley is a seasoned sports writer who was groomed as a reporter for ESPN.com, and he most recently served as the media relations manager for the San Jose SaberCats arena football team. He earned a Business and Economics degree from
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