October 13, 2017
The No. 23 Stanford Cardinal present a challenge the Ducks haven’t seen before. That’s not to say Stanford is better than any team Oregon has faced. Rather, they have yet to face an offense like Stanford’s.
The consistent multiple tight ends, multiple offensive lineman and power-run game is rare in the Pac-12. The Ducks saw it a little against Nebraska, a team not afraid to use multiple tight ends. But Nebraska doesn’t constantly run ‘power’ like Stanford.
Most importantly, Oregon has not seen a running back as good as Bryce Love, and they won’t all season.
Many wondered how Stanford would fill the void left by Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey, so Love answered. He’s averaging 10.5 yards per carry and has a streak of eight games with a touchdown run of over 50 yards. He’s entrenched himself in the Heisman conversation.
Love is faster than McCaffrey. His ability to find a small hole and fly by defenders for a touchdown is uncanny; however, he’s more one-dimensional than McCaffery, making Stanford’s offense slightly easier to predict.
Who Stanford will use at quarterback can be unpredictable. Keller Chryst began the season at quarterback but suffered an undisclosed injury against UCLA. KJ Costello replaced him and the Stanford offense exploded, but Chryst returned against Utah to start, and the two split reps throughout the game.
Some believe Costello should be the guy, but head coach David Shaw is sticking with Chryst, who he says will play the majority of the game versus Oregon.
Defensively, Stanford is not the impenetrable force it has been in years past. Stanford is allowing 433.8 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the Pac-12. They are thin along the defensive line, but the linebackers and secondary are deep and talented units.
The defensive line is Stanford’s weakness. In its two losses against USC and San Diego State, both teams were able to methodically drive down the field and control the game with its offensive lines.
Oregon can do the same, and they need to — Stanford’s best defensive lineman Harrison Phillips is out for the first half after getting flagged for a targeting penalty at the end of the Utah game. Peter Kalambayi, Stanford’s most experienced outside linebacker, is also out for the first half with the same scenario.
If Oregon can’t establish its running game in the first half, then it is hard to believe they’ll be able to after Stanford gets its reinforcements.
The Stanford defense, although allowing yards, ranks better in terms of points allowed at sixth in the Pac-12. They have the ability to force turnovers, especially interceptions. Safety Justin Reid is tied for first in the Football Bowl Subdivision with six interceptions this season.
Stanford’s defense is tied for first in the Pac-12 with nine interceptions, so they’re hoping to take advantage of Oregon’s new quarterback.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917