Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 2012
This week, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks open up conference play with a fourth consecutive home tilt against No. 22 Arizona. The Wildcats (3-0) are fresh off of a victory over South Carolina State. Oregon enters the contest having just defeated an FCS opponent of its own having manhandled Tennessee Tech.

Neither team has faced a truly stiff challenge. Oregon's best win is likely over a Fresno State team that just beat Pac-12 opponent Colorado by a score of 69-14 last weekend. Arizona defeated Oklahoma State in their second game of the season 59-38.

This is the third out of four teams the Ducks will face with a new head coach. Arizona brought in Rich Rodriguez this past off-season after parting ways with former coach Mike Stoops. Though Rodriguez was unable to successfully implement his spread option offense at Michigan, it appears Rodriguez is on his way to better success at Arizona.


Arizona: Matt Scott (6-3, 196) will get the start for the Wildcats. Scott spent last year redshirting after being named the teams co-offensive MVP following the 2010 season. Though his playing time was minimal, he did earn 2 starts in 2010 and was the teams fourth leading rusher. This year, a fifth year senior, Scott has fully embraced Rodriguez' spread option offense. He has completed 88 of 123 pass attempts for 995 yards with 7 touchdowns against just 1 interception. On the ground, Scott has been equally impressive with 36 carries for 227 yards, not including sacks.

Behind Scott will be B.J. Denker (6-3, 177) a junior college transfer from Cerritos College. Denker has appeared in one game for the Wildcats this season completing 6 of 10 passes for 78 yards and 1 touchdown while rushing one time for seven yards.

Oregon: Marcus Mariota earns his fourth start for the Ducks against Arizona. After a brilliant opening game for the Ducks, Mariota was a little shaky against Fresno State. He appered much more comfortable last week against Tennessee Tech. For the season Mariota has completed 58 of 77 passes for 674 yards with 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. On the ground, Mariota has carried the ball, not including sacks, 17 times for 156 yards on the ground.

Behind Mariota will be Bryan Bennett. Bennett has one start to his credit coming against Colorado last season. This year, mostly in mop up relief of Mariota, Bennett has completed 12 of 22 passes for 128 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Bennett is dangerous with his feet last year accumulating 200 yards rushing in his brief 6 appearances. Through two appearances this year, Bennett has 9 carries for 46 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns.

EDGE: Arizona

Matt Scott has a very large experience edge as a fifth year senior. Through the first three games of 2012, Scott has outperformed Mariota in just about every category. Mariota came through with his first 300 yard performance in just more than one half of football against Tennessee Tech last week, but the early season edge goes to the player with more experience and better overall performance this season.


Arizona: After losing Juron Criner, last year's leading receiver for the Wildcats, Arizona returns Dan Buckner (6-4, 215) a senior who played well last season. Buckner had 42 catches for 606 yards and 2 touchdowns last season for the Wildcats. Through 3 games this season, Buckner already has 22 receptions for 261 yards and 1 touchdown. At the opposite wide receiver position will be Terrence Miller (6-4, 226) another senior for the Wildcats. After catching just 11 balls for 136 yards as a junior last season, Miller has stepped up for the Wildcats early this season with 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown through the first three games. Starting at the slot receiver position is Austin Hill (6-3, 211) a sophomore. Hill, who caught 21 passes for 311 yards as a freshman has 17 receptions for 319 yards early on for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats have seen four primary backups at the receiver position. The first of these is Richard Morrison (5-11, 183) a junior slot receiver. Morrison caught 22 passes for 201 yards last season. So far this year, Morrison has 16 catches for 127 yards and a team leading 2 touchdown receptions. The next receiver is Tyler Slavin (6-2, 205) a sophomore with 8 catches for 70 yards. Also seeing time will be Johnny Jackson (5-10, 179) a redshirt freshman with 5 catches for 43 yards.

Oregon: Starting at the wide receiver position for Oregon on one side will be Keanin Lowe, a sophomore from Jesuit High School in the Portland area. Lowe has played well for the Ducks early in 2012 and has 8 catches for 92 yards and 1 touchdown. Starting opposite Lowe should be Josh Huff. Huff played well despite battling injuries for most of 2011. After a scare against Fresno State, Huff should be at full strength this week. Huff has managed 2 catches for 22 yards and 1 touchdown in two brief appearances. Daryle Hawkins gets the start at the third wideout position. Hawkins, an all-purpose athlete the prior two seasons for the Ducks has nestled into his starting role well and 5 catches for 58 yards.

Josh Huff leads a youthful wide receiver group
Not to be forgotten is De'Anthony Thomas. Though he is listed as a running back on the depth chart, he is more frequently spotted lining up as a receiver for Oregon. He is the leading receiver for the Ducks with 11 catches for 154 yards and 3 receiving touchdowns.

Beyond the starters, the Ducks play a lot of receivers. True freshman Bralon Addison is the primary reserve and has 8 catches for 79 yards this season. Rashaan Vaughn has 6 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Another freshman, Dwayne Stanford, has 6 catches of his own for 65 yards. B. J. Kelley and Eric Dungy have chipped in with 3 catches each early this season.

EDGE: Oregon, very slightly

Arizona has bigger receivers and they throw the ball a lot more than the Ducks. Oregon has the most explosive player in all of college football, though, and he frequently lines up at receiver. His explosiveness combined with the depth and speed at the receiver position give the Ducks the slightest of edges at the wide receiver position.


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