To be manly and effective in pink, the Ducks have to be mindful of these essential elements of winning football as Washington State (4-3, 2-2) comes to Autzen Stadium.
Persistence in the pass rush:
It’s another Chief Bromden game as Connor Halliday thows a preponderance of the quick, short passes, what Nick Aliotti calls the “dink and dunk game.” This means Taylor Hart, DeForest Buckner, Wade Keliikipi, Tony Washington and crew have to keep after him, get their hands up and maintain their effort level even without an immediate payoff. They’ll get to him, but for the d-line, it will be an 80-play effort to win four in the pass rush. Halliday has been sacked 10 times in six games; he’s in the negative for rushing yards for the season at -39 yards with three positive carries all season: 11, 3, and 5 yards.
12-step program: Connor Halliday is 6-4 with a nice, high release point and below average mobility. The Cougars use a lot of short, quick throws, looking for yards after the catch and errors of aggression from the defense. They’ll want to draw some pass interference calls downfield (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America).
Picking your spots in the secondary:
With all that dinking and dunking, the back four have to be smart and patient, keeping plays in front of them, tackling securely, and staying alert for double move routes, post-corner, out-and-up, pump-and-go. Halliday can be baited into bad throws. Occasionally he misreads or fails to read a safety. But the exceptional Oregon secondary has to be smart with their gambles, defending Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and Vince Mayle like it’s Super Bowl 7, because it is.
Maintain the pace on offense:
Oregon should be able to move the football on the ground, but the WSU defense has been solid this year. They are allowing just over 400 yards per game, 9 touchdowns through the air on the season, 9 rushing, 5.5 yards per play,but they haven’t played a balanced, high octane offense like Oregon’s this year. The biggest available mismatch are short passes to the backs, and Addison and Huff in one-on-one coverage. Covering the tight end, Deone Bucannon is one of the conference’s best strong safeties. The Ducks need a push up front. The inside zone read game, long one of the foundations of the Quack Attack has had only mixed success this year. The Cougs held USC to 7 points, but Stanford and Oregon State scored in the 50’s, burning them with the deep passing game.
Pummel them with special teams:
This is where Oregon’s advantage in speed and depth will immediately tell. The special teams units should contribute a couple of big plays and keep the crowd warm and on its feet.
Watch out for tricks
Leach is a crafty pirate, and everyone pulls out all the stops for the Ducks. The wide receiver reverse pass. The onside kick and fake punt. The hook and ladder. Wazzu will try every sneaky trick in the pirate handbook, and even try to pass off a couple of fake doubloons at the concession stand. Eyes up, stay alert, read your keys. Don’t be distracted by the fetching wench in the peasant blouse and jaunty kerchief.