Arizona State at Oregon Game Preview
Oregon is taking on Arizona State in Autzen Stadium. The game last year should’ve been a loss for Oregon but lucked out when Arizona State turned the ball over seven times. Four turnovers and three fumbles will kill any team, and the Sun Devils only lost by 11. They outgained Oregon by over two hundred yards. Oregon only had 3.5 yards per carry and converted only 2 of 13 third down attempts. Bill C. at Football Study Hall had an adjusted score of Arizona State 28.5, Oregon 27.3.
This year the Sun Devils are without Steven Threet, who threw all four picks last year, and are one of the more experienced teams in the PAC-12. It’s now or never for Dennis Erickson as this is one of the best teams he’s had in Tempe.
Oregon’s S&P+ has only improved sine last week. They have surpassed Stanford and now rank 6th in the country with a score of 267.1. Stanford is 7th with a score of 258.3. Oregon has the third best offense according to this stat and the thirteenth best defense. Stanford is the seventh best offense and 10th best defense. More importantly this week, Arizona State is 30th overall with a score of 227, offensively they are 33rd on offense with 114.4, and defensively rank 31st with 112.6.
There is a pretty big gap in terms of offense and defense as shown by the statistics, but you can also tell just by watching. Since the LSU game Oregon has played better offensively than I can ever remember with Chip Kelly as head coach. The defense has been bending and not breaking. At some point I just have to stop worrying about how the defense is giving up a lot of yards per game and is missing assignments and just be happy that they held Cal to under 20 points.
Arizona has been inconsistent so far this season. They have huge stretches of playing great and playing poorly. They took the second half off during the game against Missouri, which they won in overtime, and played their way in to a loss at Illinois. At Autzen, Arizona State can’t get in to a funk or the crowd will go nuts and Oregon will pull away.
This may be the best case scenario for the “Jump” video that plays after the third quarter. The Athletic Department has been forcing this on people for the last year and now Autzen will be rocking enough to go all out. I really hope this works.
Oregon still struggles passing the ball when the other team knows they are going to pass the ball. On passing downs Oregon ranks 50th, with a score of 115.8. On downs where Oregon can be balanced and run or pass, they are the best in the country with a score of 168.5. Oregon’s passing S&P+ is eighth best, meaning that it is absolutely crucial that Oregon doesn’t get in a position where they need to get big chunks of yards or they are going to struggle when teams know they need to pass it. It’s even more imperative with LaMichael James out for the offensive line to get a lot of push. Kenjon Barner is great but LaMichael James is truly a class all his own.
Arizona State, while a passing team, is surprisingly good at rushing the football and this is reflected in the Rushing S&P+ where they rank 17th with a score of 132.4. They are 48th in the country passing according to the same statistic and 48th in passing downs. What we can draw from this is that Arizona State is a good offense, but not super. Oregon is the best team Arizona State has played so far so it will be interesting to see how they respond to a really fast defense. Let’s see if Oregon can also stop the Arizona State offense that racked up almost 600 yards of offense last year, mostly off swing passes to running backs who motioned out of the backfield and which softened up the middle of the field for running plays and deep passes.
This game is really going to come down to the defense. The defense needs to do a much better job of holding the Sun Devil defense down. The offensive line needs to get a push at the line because Kenjon Barner is such a hit or miss back. I don’t know what is going on with Cliff Harris but he needs to figure it out (all I can assume with