Oregon Offensive Preview

Marcus Mariota

Arizona will face the best offense it has seen all season when it takes on the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. Read on for a closer look at the offense, players to watch, and more.

Oregon football's identity revolves around its high-paced offense and on Saturday, Arizona will have the task of stopping a system that has averaged nearly 50 points per game this season.

The Ducks' success has revolved around 6-foot-4, 211-pound Marcus Mariota, who is putting together a season worthy of Heisman consideration.

In fact, Mariota has not thrown an interception all year and has thrown for 2,819 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has been a bit limited in the running game in the past few contests because of a sprained MCL, but his effectiveness has not be affected.

It is unknown if Mariota will be able to run more this weekend, as he has gone for negative rushing yards in his past two games. However, it really should not matter much, as evidenced by the fact that he has yet to throw a pick.

What's scary about Mariota is that some of his best performances have come against the most legitimate teams. He threw for 456 yards against Tennessee and 366 against Washington and only really had a below average game against California and Stanford.

Mariota mainly uses two receivers, but he does spread the ball out. Josh Huff is a 5-foot-11, 205-pound speedster that Oregon likes to get into open space. He has 45 catches for 802 yards and seven touchdowns. Huff actually has not reached triple digit yardage in his last four games, but does have four of them on the year.

The other dominant receiver on the Ducks is 5-foot-10, 189-pound sophomore Bralon Addison, who has caught 47 balls for 742 yards and seven touchdowns. Addison is usually good for about four or five catches per game and is a major threat downfield.

In addition to those two, De'Anthony Thomas is going to get 10-15 touches per game in a variety of ways. By his standard, he has probably had a disappointing season, but is a nightmare in the open field. In six games, Thomas has 62 carries for 410 yards and seven touchdowns and had added 14 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown.

Sophomore Byron Marshall will pass the 1,000 yard mark against Arizona, as he currently has 991 yards on 152 carries. That 6.5 yards per carry average is just one indication of how dangerous Oregon's running game can be, as Marshall has added 14 touchdowns as well.

Marshall was not much of a factor in the loss to Stanford, finishing with only 46 yards and then followed it up with only 66 yards on 11 carries against Utah.

It would not be a surprise to see 5-foot-11, 201-poind freshman Thomas Tyner get more carries than usual. He had seven carries for 57 yards against Utah, but his best game of the season was seven for 99 against Cal. His highest amount of carries in a game came against UCLA when he had 14 for 77.

The scouting report for Tyner is the same as the majority of Oregon players in that he is dangerous in the open field and has great speed.

Much of Oregon's success on offense has been due to its offensive line. The technique and strategy it employs obviously works and often times, the line takes advantage of aggressive defenses by giving Mariota enough time to work.

Players to Watch:

# 85 TE, Pharaoh Brown: He only has nine catches this season, but we think Oregon looks to him a little more this week. Arizona tends to leave the middle of the field open and Brown has great hands. Mariota has been looking for him a bit more the past few weeks and it makes sense to keep that going.

# 11 WR, Bralon Addison: Huff gets a lot of attention and rightfully so, but Johnathan McKnight on Addison is a scary matchup for Arizona. Addison is going to get numerous vertical looks and could be in line for a big game.

# 8 QB, Marcus Mariota: This goes without saying, but Mariota is a major component to Oregon's offense. The key here is his health, because Oregon becomes even more dangerous if he can run. If not, Arizona has more of a chance to disrupt the Ducks offensively.

Keys to the game:

Hit Mariota early: The teams that have been somewhat successful against Oregon have gotten to Mariota and hit him early. Arizona needs to be aggressive and get to Mariota early, because if he gets a lot of time, Arizona has no chance.

Limit big plays: Easier said than done, but Arizona needs to take away the big plays. A lot of the Ducks' offense revolves around momentum and that momentum is slowed when it has to work harder for its points.

Tackle: Arizona didn't do it against Washington State and it cost the Wildcats the victory. The UA just can't miss tackles on Oregon or it has absolutely no chance of winning.

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