Three ways Arizona beats Oregon, three ways the Wildcats lose to the Ducks
Photo courtesy of Michael Arellano/The Daily Emerald
Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) prepares to pass during the first quarter. The No. 2 Oregon Ducks play the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Sept. 28, 2013.
3 ways to Win:
Break up the pass
Tra’Mayne Bondurant has been one of the most important Wildcat defenders this season, if not the most important. The Vallejo, Calif., native is one of the conference’s best when it comes to defending the pass.
Bondurant’s four interceptions lead the team this season, and his eight broken-up passes are the eighth-most in the Pac-12. And earlier this year he missed a game with a concussion.
Oregon is going to try and spread the ball out to many receivers, and with quarterback Marcus Mariota still recovering from a knee injury, expect the Ducks to throw even more often.
If Bondurant can get an early interception or big tackle, Oregon’s momentum could work in the Wildcats’ favor. But he’ll need to do this all game long, as the Ducks’ offense is relentless.
Recently, the Arizona athletic department has been promoting running back Ka’Deem Carey as “Captain All-American.” Saturday, the defending first team All-American running back will need to have not just a typical 150-yard rushing game, but instead something more heroic.
If Carey can have a career game, not only will it give Arizona a huge upset victory, but it will boost his Heisman and NFL draft credibility.
*Ifo Ifo *
You might have had trouble pronouncing Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu before last season’s game with the Ducks, but you probably had it mastered by the end, because his name was called a lot.
In last season’s 49-0 road loss to Oregon, former Arizona quarterback Matt Scott ran into trouble against the Ducks because he couldn’t convert in the red zone (a current problem with this Wildcats team) and he threw four interceptions, two of which were picked off by Expre-Olomu.
Expre-Olomu then returned the two interceptions, one for a touchdown, for a total of 54 yards. The cornerback had the fifth-most total yards on the team that day.
Current Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker can’t repeat Scott’s mistakes and fail to take care of the ball, especially near the endzone. The Wildcats will have plenty of chances, but they’ll have to take advantage of all of them.
3 ways to Lose:
It never rains at Arizona Stadium
Oregon is known for its ironic home saying “It never rains at Autzen Stadium.” Well, it actually rarely rains at Arizona Stadium — except for this Saturday when the Ducks come to town.
The National Weather Service has the high for Saturday in Tucson at a cool 59 degrees with a 90 percent chance of rain. As if the football gods don’t want the Wildcats to even have a slight chance to win, they made the Ducks feel right at home.
While Ducks love water, we all know ’Cats can’t stand it, and if the forecast comes true, expect there to be sloppy play on Saturday.
Can’t score in the red zone
The Wildcats have the second-worst efficient offense in the red zone in the Pac-12. Scoring 79 percent of the time when they enter the red zone, the Wildcats rank 87th in the country for red zone offense.
In their previous two games against UCLA on Nov. 9 and Washington State on Nov 16., the Wildcats got burned because they couldn’t convert a successful drive into either a touchdown or field goal.
The Wildcats love to go for it on fourth down when they’re close to the end zone. However, converting just 42 percent of their fourth down attempts might mean they should hold off from doing that against the Ducks.
Oregon brings the right uniform
With so many uniform combinations you’ve got to think that someone once in a while brings the wrong jersey or helmet on a road trip. Hopefully this week it will be Mariota or running back De’Anthony Thomas.
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella