It’s time to start focusing on USC’s battle against the 4-1 Oregon Beavers Saturday at the Coliseum, and the Trojans better get their run defense together in a hurry. After getting torched by 160+ yards by 5’6” Jaquizz Rodgers in Thursday night’s loss at Corvallis, they will face college football’s 3rd-best rushing offense on Saturday.
Junior tailback LeGarrette Blount has a chance to be a very big star. After just 4 carries for 21 yards in Oregon’s season opening win against Washington, he is averaging 115 yards per game with 8 touchdowns, and he racked up 98 yards with 3 touchdowns at Martin Stadium in Pullman today.
Oregon head coach Mike Belotti engineered a huge coup by landing Blount, who was considered the top junior college running back last season. He’s a Florida kid, and he played his JC ball at East Mississippi Community College, so nobody could have guessed the flannel and birkenstiocks of Oregon would be in his future. Blount narrowed his choices to Alabama, Florida St. and the Ducks.
Belotti is a helluva recruiter, but it was something less than obvious that might have tipped him to Oregon. It’s those goofy neon Nike uniforms. During spring practice Blount said "We don't wear the same thing twice -- I love that. I don't want to play for a sluggish-looking team."
This is a big, bruising back in the tradition of last year’s Ducks rusher Jonathan Stewart (who declared for the draft early) and former Oregon running back Reuben Droughns, and he dominated from day 1 in Eugene. He ran for 68 yards on 5 carries in Oregon’s spring game.
The Oregon running game is a 2-headed monster attack. They also boast senior tailback Jeremiah Johnson, more of a shifty, jitterbug back, who ran for 124 with 2 touchdowns in the Ducks opener and has averaged 92 yards per game in his their last 3 games.
Overall, Oregon is 4-1 averaging over 300 yards per game as a team. They have rushed the ball 245 times compared to 161 passing attempts. That means that their offensive is tilted heavily to the run (65% of plays from scrimmage). Blount is a bull who runs through defenses and Johnson is an elusive speed guy.
After losing to Boise St. at Autzen Stadium last Saturday, Oregon rolled it up big on Pac 10 doormat Washington St. today 63-14. This was a great tune-up for the Ducks as they travel to the Coliseum on Saturday, but, hopefully, this will be an angry, motivated bunch.
The quarteback job for the Ducks on Saturday is up-for-grabs. Opening day starter sophomore Justin Roper could come back from a partially-torn medial collateral ligament. Or sophomore Jeremiah Masoli could get the call. He was 9 of 17 for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Cougars.
It remains to be seen if Roper is the better option. He has already been hurt twice. He left the opener against Washington with concussion. He hurt his knee in Oregon’s overtime win at Purdue. Overall, Roper has completed 40 of 77 passes in parts of 3 games with 2 touchdowns and 4 picks, so at least so far, he’s nothing special.