Keys to the game: California at Oregon

apphotodonryan1. In wet, windy weather, getting off to a good start is crucial. Very difficult to come from behind in poor conditions, and if the Ducks can bury the Bears early, they’ll lose their will in unpleasant conditions. During the week Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson talked about making Jared Goff and his teammates uncomfortable. A strong start provides a sense of inevitability–particularly for California, which has struggled early in all three of their games.

2. Take care of the football. Always important, but even more vital in poor weather.  Keeping the ball and taking it away become even more important (Don Ryan, AP photo).

3. Pressure the quarterback. Not just sacks, but hurries and deflections. Northwestern batted or tipped four passes, and one of those turned into a pick six. The Ducks have 12 defensive players that are 6-4 or taller. Deflecting and disrupting Cal’s quick passing attack turns the Bear Raid into a quick fade.

4. Run the football. The Bears are giving up 286 yards a game on the ground, and Oregon is second in the nation in rushing yards per game at 355.3 yards. Conditions will be terrible for throwing the football with gusting winds and heavy rain. The Ducks should pound Cal’s injury-depleted front seven and wear them down with the power running game, sending DAT, Marshall, Tyner and Lyerla at them in waves. Marcus Mariota should be able to break contain and find running lanes also.

5. Sound special teams. No big returns or breakdowns. Everybody stay sharp and take care of their assignments.

6. A FOOTBALL-EAGER MINDSET: Rob Moseley of reported:

After practice, Mark Helfrich briefly addressed the weather with his team. It’s expected to be cold and wet Saturday night. “You know that those conditions are?” Helfrich asked. “Perfect. Whatever the conditions are, they’re perfect.”

The Ducks have to be the team that wants to be there, alert, enthusiastic and aggressive. Make the conditions fun. Play football.