What does Oregon get for its difficulties after a reduction last week at home against Stanford? : A road game against a much better version of the Cardinal.
The Ducks play at No. 11 Utah Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, and on paper have zero chance to win, or perhaps remain close. So much so the 14-point spread seems to be an insult to Utah by about 10 points.
Oregon (3-7, 1-6 Pac-12) will roll into Utah (8-2, 5-2) using all the second-worst rushing defense in the Pac-12 at 255.4 yards allowed per game to face the hottest racing attack in the conference.
“Same thing as last week, really,” Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said. “You’ve got to stop the run. There is no doubt about it”
Oregon has not stopped the run . Not even against UC Davis and Virginia in what appears like ions ago. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey ran rampant a week, scoring three touchdowns as the Cardinal, owners of the worst offense in the conference, averaging 340 yards per game, place up 540 yards of total offense on the Ducks.
Utah, averaging 433.7 yards per game is better on offense than Stanford thanks to the wonderful performances of running back Joe Williams. He”retired” for four games to begin the season only to be talked back into enjoying. Since his return, Williams has averaged 216 total yards and 156.5 yards rushing per game. He’s gained 939 rushing yards on 7.0 yards per carry.
“He is maybe the most volatile and also the fastest of any of the backs we’ve had here up to a home run-type back which can go the distance away from anywhere on the field,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters this week.
To make matters worse for Oregon, Williams runs behind a veteran offensive line.
“They’re physical upfront,” Hoke said. “Very senior-oriented offensive line together with three guys up there which have played a lot of football.”
The Ducks would be the opposite with one senior beginning on a young defense that’s rotated through 14 defensive linemen this year.
“We had a good week of practice, same thing we all did the week before,” Hoke said. “Our men have come out and foughtand been physical each time we go to the field.”
That intensity hasn’t translated into strong performances on game titles. Saturday will probably be no different.
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