Watch Out for These Oregon Offensive Players Against Ohio State
Is the Oregon attack capable of going head-to-head with Ohio State’s defence?
The previous time the Oregon Ducks faced the Ohio State Buckeyes, Marcus Mariota’s squad scored 20 points in the first three quarters before scoring zero points in the fourth quarter with a national championship on the line.
If Oregon is to upset the No. 3 team in the country on its home turf, it will need a lot more. If the Ducks want to keep up with the stacked Buckeyes offence, they’ll have to score in bunches.
Here are three players that can assist them in doing so.
CJ Verdell-Running Back, No. 1
This may sound like a no-brainer, but the Buckeyes’ run defence is porous, so Verdell has a chance to make a game-changing impact.
Mohamed Ibrahim of Minnesota dominated Ohio State last week, rushing for 163 yards (5.4 YPC) and two scores on 30 carries.
It’s not unreasonable to believe that Verdell could produce similarly against this defence if given a similar workload.
After losing Pete Werner and Baron Browning to the NFL, the Buckeyes are still figuring out who will be their starting linebackers.
The Ducks’ offence will be perfectly set up if they can target the Buckeyes in the run game and control the line of scrimmage in run blocking.
Verdell ran the ball 18 times for 74 yards and a touchdown against Fresno State.
On Saturday, his productivity might be the focal point for the Oregon offence, but the coaches will need to increase his touches if he is to have an impact on the Ohio State defence.
Keeping Ohio State’s defence tired and on the field is a huge gain for Oregon, as it keeps the Buckeyes’ explosive attack off the field and allows the Ducks’ offence to adjust to a hostile atmosphere. Furthermore, converting third downs will be critical to keeping drives going, something the Ducks struggled with against Fresno State.
2. Wide Receiver Johnny Johnson III
Johnson is due for a huge show on the biggest stage of all.
Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, and Josh Proctor, three key players in the Ohio State secondary, could be out.
The former two were unable to play in Ohio State’s season opener against Minnesota and were replaced in the starting lineup by two rookies.
Joe Moorhead should plan on attacking that freshman and being more aggressive in the passing game.
Johnson has the ability to go behind a defence and make big plays, as he did on the long touchdown catch against Fresno State.
Johnson is an excellent route runner who might get away from the Buckeyes’ youthful defensive backs.
The Ducks’ passing offence might trade blows with the Buckeyes if Anthony Brown gets time to throw.
When the game becomes a struggle in the fourth quarter and the Ducks need to put together a drive, Johnson is dependable and automatic. It’s amazing how a quarterback’s safety blanket also happens to be his best receiver option.
T.J. Bass/Ryan Walk-Offensive Line
To explain why I chose these two inside offensive linemen, there are two words.
On the Buckeyes’ defence, Garrett is the most dominant player. Because of his athleticism and quickness, he is a freak of nature who can rip a team’s offensive game plan to shreds.
He sets up in the middle of the defensive line in either A gap, yet moves like an edge rusher.
He is lightning fast out of the gate and can blow past even the fastest of guards. For the Ducks’ offensive line, keeping an eye on him should be a top focus.
Garrett’s underappreciated leaping ability also allows him to bat down throws.
For a guy of height (6-foot-2, 300 pounds), his drive is unmatched, and he can bounce off blocks to knock down running backs or track down a scrambling quarterback.
He’s a player whose impact isn’t measured in stats but is readily apparent on film.
Walk (right guard) and Bass (left guard) will face one of the most difficult trials of their college careers.
The other two players on this list, Walk and Bass, as well as the entire offensive line, will have to play smart, fast, and physical if the Ducks are to win in Columbus on Saturday.