Usually in the Civil War, Oregon's shiny offensive weapons steal the show. In fact, two Ducks are on record watch this Friday. Be that as it may, this season the Beavers (2-9, 1-7 Pac-12) have an offensive star that is turning heads of their own in true freshman Jermar Jefferson.
Jefferson is a talented workhorse; he leads all freshmen nationally with 1,316 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. In three of his past four games, he has run for at least 100 yards and this season has surpassed 200 rushing yards twice.
Defending Jefferson is a challenge the Ducks (7-4, 4-4) are excited for.
“He is really elusive,” said Oregon outside linebacker LaMar Winston Jr. “I really like to see that because that gives me another chance to get better at open field tackling. That’s the one thing I’ve been working on this season. I’m excited to play against him.”
Winston Jr. added it how much fun he had last Saturday defending Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin. While Benjamin finished with 149 yards on 29 carries, most of those yards came early on long runs and the Ducks adjusted to contained him very well on the outside and prevented him from scoring a touchdown.
Winston Jr. smiles when talking about the 122nd Civil War, because Jefferson isn’t the only player he’s excited to play against.
A Portland native, Winston Jr. is one of eight UO scholarship players from the state of Oregon. He has friends on Oregon State’s team that he considers brothers; cornerback Jaydon Grant (West Linn Highschool) and offensive lineman Blake Brandel (Central Catholic Highschool).
But those friendships will be pushed aside as Oregon tries to win the "most important game of the year” as UO coach Mario Cristobal referred to Friday’s contest. The Ducks have won nine of the last 10 meetings but the loss came in in Reser Stadium in Corvallis. Beavers 34-24 victory capped off a 4-8 UO season that led to the firing of its coaching staff.
Safe to say, Oregon wants to get over its road game woes, limit Jefferson and leave Corvallis victorious this season.
“Rivalry games are huge,” said Winston Jr. “Anything can happen.”