Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon has developed into
one of nation's most dangerous quarterbacks. The explosive quarterback is a
dual threat player that has beat teams with both his strong arm and his quick
feet. Dixon has run and thrown for a touchdown in every game this season.
The Ducks spread offense is the perfect system for
Dixon to display his versatility. Dixon
leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and ranks fourth nationally. He has also
raised his completion percentage this year up to an amazing 69.3%.
"He's really, really efficient right now and
making great choices. He's taking off at the right time, not wasting
throws," Pete Carroll said. "That's what the experience does for you."
The Ducks senior quarterback also ranks 11th
in the country in total offense (308.2 avg).
On the year Dixon is averaging 146.9 passing yards a
game and 59.4 rush yards.
Dixon poses lots of problems for the USC defense. The
Trojans defensive ends and linebackers will be busy all game trying to keep
Dixon in the pocket. If Dixon is able to have success running the ball then the
Trojans could be in for a long day.
USC will try and keep Dixon in the pocket and force
him to beat them with his arm.
The Ducks have rushed for over 300 yards in four of
their seven games this season, thanks in large part to junior running back
Jonathan Stewart. Stewart has solidified his spot as one of the nations premiere
running backs this year while running for 940 yards in 7 games.
"Jonathan Stewart is a great football
player. He's the No. 1 draft pick, he's an NFL, you know, prototype running
back. He's big and he's fast and he runs really tough. He can catch the ball, as
well," said Pete Carroll.
The Ducks running game has been dominant all year.
Oregon is currently third in the country in rushing yards per game at 294.4.
Last week at Washington, Stewart rushed for a
career-high 251 yards and two touchdowns. With the spectacular performance he
was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week.
Junior running back Jeremiah Johnson is out for the
year with a torn ACL. So freshman Andre Crenshaw will see action as Stewart's
back up against USC. Crenshaw, a very capable back up, has rushed for 269 yards
on 48 carries and has three touchdowns.
Crenshaw rushed for a career-high 113 yards and two
touchdowns last week at Washington.
Oregon is 9-1 when Stewart rushes for over 100 yards.
So the Trojans defensive line is going to have to contain Jonathan Stewart to
give the Trojans a shot at beating the Ducks in Eugene.
Quarterback Dennis Dixon has really spread the ball
in the Ducks passing game. Seven different Oregon players have over 10
receptions so far this season.
Junior Jaison Williams is the Ducks top player at
wide receiver. At 6-5, 240 lbs Williams causes match up problems with his size
and also his speed. Williams is not only the Ducks strongest receiver but he is
also the fastest.
Williams leads the Ducks with 31 receptions, 505
yards and five touchdowns.
Pflugard is one of ten Oregon freshman that have seen
action this year for the Ducks. Pflugard made his first career start last week
against Washington and caught 5 passes for 51 yards.
Senior wide receiver Garren Strong is tied for third
on the team with 19 receptions. Strong caught his first career touchdown pass
last week at Washington.
The Ducks receiving unit has been decimated by
injuries in 2007. The Trojans secondary will have their hands full defending
Jaison Williams but should be able to contain Garren Strong and Aaron Pflugard.
The Ducks have a very good receiving tight end in
sophomore Ed Dickson. The 6-5, 240 lbs tight end is the Ducks third-leading
receiver with 19 receptions for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Dickson is a big
play threat for the Ducks averaging over 13 yards per catch.
The best match up of the game will be the Oregon
offensive line against the USC defensive line. The Ducks have the best offense
in the Pac-10 largely due to the success of their veteran offensive line, while
the Trojans have the best defense in the Pac-10 led by their dominant defensive
The battle in the trenches will be strength against
strength. Junior center Max Unger and the Ducks offensive line has led Oregon to
a No.3 national ranking in rushing offense averaging 294.4 yards a game.
On the other side of the ball, All-American nose
tackle Sedrick Ellis and the USC defensive line is ranked fourth in the nation
in rushing defense surrendering just 64.2 yards a game.
The Trojans will need to control the line of
scrimmage and keep Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart in check if they are going
to beat the Ducks at Autzen Stadium.
The strength of Oregon is their offense and the strength of the Trojans is the defense. So whoever can win this battle should come away with the victory this Saturday in Eugene.