The Oregon Ducks are a very good team. They run the ball extremely well, quarterback Darron Thomas is capable of making plays happen through the air, and their defense, while inconsistent at times, has a ton of talent and covers the field sideline to sideline faster than just about anyone. That being said, there are a few key aspects to the game that the Wildcats will have to execute if they hope to win on Saturday evening.
No More Empty Trips:
OK, maybe this goes for every team in the nation, but with Arizona's terrible kicking game, converting on opportunities inside the 40-yard line is absolutely crucial to their success. To be honest, moving the ball down the field really hasn't been the problem for the 'Cats this year; it's the bad play calling, foolish penalties, and the execution of the play that have hampered the team.
Arizona could have been leading Stanford last week if they executed inside the red zone and made their makable field goals. If they continue to stall and fail to score near the goal line, the Wildcats have no chance at beating Oregon this weekend. The Ducks offense is just too good.
Protect Nick Foles:
The offensive line has been terrible the first three games of the season. Heck, even Nick Foles was being rushed out of the pocket against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks a few weeks ago. That cannot happen against Oregon.
The line needs to both keep Foles safe and open up holes for Keola Antolin and Ka'Deem Carey to run through. The skill-position players are not the problem with this unit; it's the o-line, and it needs to step up.
If Arizona does not get pressure on Darron Thomas and the backfield, they can kiss this game goodbye. If the talented quarterback has time to make the read, the 'Cats will continually get burnt down the field, just as they did against Stanford last weekend. Blitz early, blitz often and try to come away with a big play or two; it might be the defense's only chance.
Final Thoughts and Predictions:
I'm not too worried about Arizona moving the football down the field against Oregon. The problem for the 'Cats will be on the defensive side of the ball, and it's tough to imagine UA's battered defense slowing down the Ducks and their high-flying attack. Nick Foles makes a few plays happen early as the game remains close at halftime, but Oregon proves to be too much in the second half and they come away with a 45-24 victory in Tucson.