Civil War

Civil War Chapter 2: No. 6 Oregon at Oregon State

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Civil War Chapter 2: No. 6 Oregon at Oregon State

There is more on the line for No. 6 Oregon than just another Civil War victory, but the Ducks are not looking beyond simply defeating the Beavers. A win tomorrow for Oregon would share a conference title with Arizona heading into the Pac-12 conference tournament next week in Las Vegas, Nev. 

However, Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) will have to first take care of Beavers' sophomore forward Drew Eubanks and an Oregon State squad with nothing to lose when the 348th Civil War basketball game tips off at 3 p.m. in Corvallis. 

“Wayne [Tinkle] has done a tremendous job keeping them focuses and keeping them playing hard,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said of Oregon State’s tough season. “Their last two home efforts against Colorado and Utah were outstanding. With a big win over Utah and played Colorado in a tight score with two minutes to go, they've continued to play hard and they’ve been tough at home.”

It has been a building year to say the least for the Beavers (5-25, 1-16 Pac-12). Star guard Tres Tinkle has missed most of the season due to injury. But time is on their side with most of the team seeing valuable playing time as freshmen and sophomores. 

Oregon can in no way afford to take a game off, especially the Civil War when the Beavers will look to do anything they can to upset Oregon with the conference tournament around the corner.

“I think we’re just taking every game as it is,” said UO senior guard Dylan Ennis. “Playing hard, playing together, playing smart. Playing an OSU team that definitely is going to go out there you know and want to win the last season game like we do. So we just got to be prepared for them.”

One area in which the Ducks can be better prepared against any team is rebounding. Oregon has struggled to be consistent in this area throughout the season and will have another test with Eubanks tomorrow. He is averaging 14.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Oregon senior forward Chris Boucher said regarding the rebounding issue: “It’s not only tomorrow, it’s yesterday and the day before, always trying to work on rebounding. Teams are out-rebounding us right now and it’s been an issue since before the Cal trip. So we’re trying to get better at it, we work on rebounding everyday, and we’ll get better, I’m sure, before March Madness.” 

A quick look at the game:

No. 6 Oregon at Oregon State

Where: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR

When: 3:05 p.m.

TV: ESPN2       

Records: Ducks (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12), Beavers (5-25, 1-16 Pac-12).

Last outings: Oregon rounded out just its second time since 1976 sweeping the Bay Area schools with a 75-73 win at Stanford last Saturday. Oregon State lost at California 76-46 last Friday.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (180-68 at Oregon, 590-311 Division I). Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle (41-52 at Oregon State, 199-143 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (15.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, .432 3PT%), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.7 bpg).

Key Beavers: G Jaquori McLaughlin, 6-4, Fr., (10.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg), G Stephen Thompson Jr, 6-4, So., (8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg), F Drew Eubanks, 6-10, So., (14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg), G Kendall Manuel, 6-4, Fr., (5.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg).

Notes: With a win Saturday, Oregon would claim the league title for sixth time in program history…Over the last four seasons, Oregon is undefeated after Valentine’s Day (21-0) in Pac-12 Conference games…Last Saturday at Stanford, Altman tied W.J. Reinhart (1923-35) for third in UO career coaching wins with 180…The Ducks are second nationally at 6.8 blocks per game, and lead the nation in total blocks with 203.

Oregon's battered defense ripe for OSU's Ryan Nall

Oregon's battered defense ripe for OSU's Ryan Nall

Just when it appeared that Oregon's defense had made the shift from horrible to average the Ducks have been dealt yet another blow.

Sophomore defensive tackle Rex Manu has been lost for the season with a leg injury. It's another in a long list of problematic developments for a battered and young defensive line that actually played solid football during a 30-28 win at then-No. 11 Utah on Saturday. 

"Another gut punch inside there," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of his battered group of defensive tackles that has already lost redshirt freshman Drayton Carlberg (leg) and junior Austin Maloata (dismissed from team)

Oregon's bad news is good news for Oregon State, the Ducks' next opponent in the 120th Civil War, which kicks off at 1 p.m., Saturday at Reser Stadium. 

The Beavers (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) last week snapped a five-game losing streak with a 42-10 win over hapless Arizona (2-9, 0-8) thanks in part to the hard-charging performance of sophomore running back Ryan Nall operating behind a solid offensive line.

Nall, when healthy, is one of the best backs in the Pac-12.  The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder out of Portland's Central Catholic High School is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and is coming off of a 124-yard performance against the Wildcats.

Oregon (4-7, 2-6) need only look at video from last year's Civil War to remind itself of how good Nall can be. He gouged the Ducks for 174 yards rushing and 54 receiving during a 52-42 UO victory. 

"He's a load," Helfrich said. "He's very difficult to tackle."

Helfrich said Oregon must be mindful of the variety of ways Oregon uses Nall, who gets the ball on misdirection plays, fly sweep, out of the backfield and on straight ahead running plays. 

OSU's creativity, Helfrich said, usually leads to Nall, who earlier this season went for 131 rushing yards against Washington State and for 221 on California, out in space against a linebacker or a defensive back forced to make an arm tackle.

"Him versus an arm is usually a bad matchup for the arm," Helfrich said. "We need to get multiple bodies to him."

Oregon did a solid job of doing just that against Utah's Joe Williams. He did rush for a healthy 149 yards but had a long of just 28, which for UO's porous defense is an accomplishment. Oregon ranks 11th in the Pac-12 against the run (240.7 yards per game) and has allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the conference (34). 

Helfrich said Oregon's defenders have been somewhat slow in adjusting to the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, but did commit the least amount of mental errors and missed tackles against the Utes then the group had all season.

Oregon defensive backs coach John Neal said he sees similarities between OSU's offense and Utah's. Beavers coach Gary Andersen worked under Utah coach Kyle Whittingham at Utah from 2004 through 2008. Both were assistants there prior to Whittingham becoming the head coach in 2004. 

Familiar offenses aside, Neal said the Ducks must play with the same intensity they displayed at Utah in order to defeat an OSU team hungry for its first Civil War victory since 2007.

"It will be interesting to see how hard we go out there and play because they are going to play hard," Neal said.

If Oregon fails to show up mentally and physically, Nall will run wild. Neal is a fan of OSU's engine, but doesn't want to see him grind the Ducks into the turf. 

"I love 34," Neal said. "I think he is one of the best players in or league. I don't think the kid has any weaknesses."

Beavers turn full attention to the Civil War

Beavers turn full attention to the Civil War

The Beavers played perhaps their best game of the Gary Andersen era last Saturday, dismantling the Arizona Wildcats 42-17. Now, with just one game left on the schedule it's time to see if Andersen and his young Beavers can bring home the one win they have wanted all season long; a win the Civil War. Can the Beavers pull the upset and end what is currently an eight game losing streak to the Oregon Ducks? We will find out on Saturday. Until then, hear what Coach Andersen had to say in his weekly press conference as he gets his team prepared for kickoff. #GoBeavs 

There seems to be a possibility of a very compelling Civil War

There seems to be a possibility of a very compelling Civil War

The way things were going this season, I really didn't think there was any possibility that Oregon and Oregon State would be heading into Saturday's Civil War in Corvallis off victories.

And impressive ones, at that.

The Ducks won their first road game of the season at Utah behind a surprisingly stout defense and a clutch, second-half offense. The Beavers didn't defeat a high-quality opponent but survived the rare situation for them of going into a game as a favorite -- being expected to win -- and then going out and doing it in very solid fashion. OSU even discovered a spectacular passing game, all of a sudden.

But the storylines for this game are what will really make this game special.

The Ducks are trying to shake off a season so different from the past decade that their head coach, Mark Helfrich, is being chased by the mythical pitchforks and torches of a fire-the-coach lynch mob. The whisper stream, in fact, has been alive for a while now with rumors that a decision has already been made to let him go. But I'm not sure how reliable that is or whether the win at Utah would have anything to do with that changing.

At Oregon State, it appears that even through multiple injuries all over the field, second-year coach Gary Andersen may be gaining a lot of traction on a very rapid rebuild of the Beaver program. For the Beavers, a win over the Ducks would provide a big bounce in recruiting, ticket sales for next season and overall attitude within the program.

For the Ducks, it would maintain their dominance over their arch-rival and perhaps save Helfrich's job. If it's at stake in the first place.

At the time of writing this, it was still too soon for an early line on the game but I can tell you it should be a narrow margin. The Ducks, by the way, are 2-10-1 against the spread in their last 13 games and the Beavers are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven. If that matters to you.

If you're asking me for a pick, you're going to have to wait until later in the week. It's too soon.