College Football News Preview 2020: Oregon Ducks Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Oregon Ducks Offense
Score every time there’s a chance. The offense will be terrific. The offensive line will reload in a hurry, the quarterback situation will be fine, the coaching will be top-shelf, and it’ll be a stunner if the Ducks don’t finish in the top three in the Pac-12 in total offense.
But there’s a difference between having another amazing season, and going to the College Football Playoff – it might just come down to not screwing up on the little things.
The kicking game could stand to be better. Camden Lewis was okay, but he only hit 9-of-14 field goals with four misses from 27 yards or closer. None of them mattered all that much – the 20-yarder against Auburn didn’t help, along with another empty trip from the offense – but on the year, the offense was second-to-last in the Pac-12 in red zone conversions.
That did matter in the 31-28 loss to Arizona State. There weren’t any missed field goals, but there was one missed trip inside the 20.
On the year, Oregon only scored 49-of-63 times in the red zone – 77.8%. The 65% touchdown rate wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the 75% rate in 2018. Overall, Oregon blew past the 80% mark in red zone conversions with ease for five years before last season.
Biggest Key To The Oregon Ducks Defense
Prevent the big pass play. The Oregon defense kept Auburn’s Bo Nix in check for most of the opener, and then came the 26-yard game-winning touchdown pass with nine seconds to play.
Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels went off – and WR Brandon Aiyuk helped the cause with 161 yards – with touchdown passes from 57 and 81 yards out, along with a 26-yard play to Frank Darby.
Washington State’s Anthony Gordon averaged over eight yards per pass, coming up enough big plays to make it really, really close in a 37-35 loss.
The Oregon secondary will be among the best in the Pac-12, and the pass rush will be a huge help. However, dealing with Ohio State’s Justin Fields, USC’s Kedon Slovis, and to kick things off, facing North Dakota State’s Trey Lance will be interesting.
Key Oregon Ducks Player To A Successful Season
OT Steven Jones, Soph.
The line loses four starters including OG Shane Lemieux to the New York Giants and C Jake Hanson to the Green Bay Packers, but Calvin Throckmorton was an All-Pac-12 performer at right tackle and backup Brady Aiello is gone, too.
Penei Sewell is the rock at one tackle, and it would make the puzzle pieces fit nicely if Jones can dominate the job on the right side. The 6-7, 349-pounder has the size and the frame, and he has a little bit of starting experience. If he’s an all-star caliber blocker, the Ducks might lead the Pac-12 in fewest sacks allowed.
Key Game To The Oregon Ducks Season
Ohio State, Sept. 12
The loss to Auburn in the 2019 season opener meant the Ducks had to be perfect to get into the CFP, and they weren’t.
There’s going to be a misfire somewhere in the Pac-12 season. Oregon might be the league’s best team, and the schedule is relatively favorable – more on that later – so coming up with a statement win over Ohio State early on would be the buffer.
Beyond that, coming up with a win over this Buckeye team will be just the credibility win that Oregon and the Pac-12 needs. Win, and it really will be all there for the taking – 12-1 or better, Pac-12 Championship, College Football Playoff.
– Oregon Ducks Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Oregon Fun Stats
– Sacks: Oregon 41 for 63 yards – Opponents 14 for 39 yards
– Penalties: Opponents 116 for 947 yards – Oregon 85 for 862 yards
– Rushing TDs: Oregon 26 – Opponents 5