It is finally game week in the Pac-12 Conference which means it’s time to look ahead at No. 12 Oregon’s week one matchup against the Stanford Cardinal.
After finishing tied for last in the Pac-12 North division with a 3-6 conference record (4-8 overall) in 2019, the Cardinal had to accomplish a lot over the offseason:
- Quarterback K.J. Costello entered the transfer portal and has found a new home at Mississippi State under first-year Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach (formerly at Washington State).
- Stanford’s defense was statistically in the middle of the Pac in terms of total yards allowed and points per game and now their best pass rusher, Casey Toohill who recorded eight sacks last season, is off in the NFL.
- Offensively speaking, tight end Colby Parkinson - who was a nightmare redzone matchup for any opponent with his sheer size - was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
- The last team to beat Oregon at home in Autzen Stadium was Stanford (38-31 loss in OT).
There's lots of moving pieces down in Palo Alto, but never underestimate David Shaw.
First-year Oregon Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead and second-year Oregon Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos met with the media on Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s matchup.
OUTLOOK ON THE CARDINAL OFFENSE:
The Cardinal have a traditional, run-first offensive mentality. Fifth-year running back Cameron Scarlett put up 884 yards on 201 attempts and averaged 70.0 yards per game. Austin Jones was second on the team in attempts (45) and returns to the backfield this season.
However, Avalos thinks the Ducks will be challenged by arguably the best group of receivers in the Pac-12: Michael Wilson (6’2” senior wide receiver) was 15th in the Pac-12 conference 672 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2019; Simi Fehoko (6’4” junior wide receiver) was third on the team in receiving yards (566) and added six touchdowns in 2019; and Connor Wedington (6’0” senior wide receiver) who put up over 500 yards as well.
“The size, speed combination. They got a lot of length at that position, traditionally they have,” said Avalos. “And the speed that goes with it now, it’s going to be a huge challenge. They got guys that obviously run the deep routes really well - from inside positions and outside positions - and also the intermediate routes.. We are going to have our hands full. It is going to be one of the best wide receiver groups that we’ve seen in a long while.”
OUTLOOK ON THE CARDINAL DEFENSE:
Stanford’s leader in sacks (Casey Toohill) and tackles (Andrew Pryts) have both graduated but familiar faces return to the field: fifth-year inside linebacker Curtis Robinson (second on the team in tackles (64) and added two sacks in 2019); junior defensive end Thomas Booker (6’4”, 310 pounds) recorded 50 tackles and four sacks last season; and then the secondary features strong safety Kendall Williamson (recorded 47 tackles and one fumble recovery in 2019).
“Size and physicality of the front seven; length on the backend; very well-coached; play with incredible effort; a team that really tries to minimize explosive plays,” said Moorhead. “You kind of look at the whole season… the four games in our breakdown Stanford was the only one to score over 24 points. I think everyone else was 24 or less. Coach Thompson does a good job with that unit. You can see the kids believe in their scheme and play with a lot of confidence.”
WHO: No. 12 Oregon vs. Stanford
WHEN: 4:30 PM (PT) kickoff
WHERE: Autzen Stadium; Eugene, Oregon
RADIO: Oregon Sports Network