If there are any doubts that Mark Helfrich is a detail-oriented coach, Rob Moseley reported that yesterday the Ducks practiced handing the ball off to an official during a red-zone drill.
Moseley also said that the team practiced with extra defensive backs, and are preparing reserves like Steven Amoako and Isaac Dixon to make the trip to Pullman.
Among the things that I’d like to see from Oregon in Martin Stadium: a big day running the football. Run the football until they stop it. Grind down a thin Washington State defensive line with The Three-headed Monster. Mariota and the receivers will get their yards, but the Ducks should have a team goal of 350 on the ground, with at least a couple of hundred-yard rushing days.
Even though the Cougars haven’t won more than six games in a season since 2003 (they used to be one of the toughest teams in the conference in the Drew Bledsoe/Mark Rypien/Ryan Leaf eras), they always seem to play the Ducks tough. In 2012 they were down just 23-19 at halftime, and in 2011, they trailed by just five at the break.
It’s easy to get off to a slow start on the road, especially on a trip to the Palouse which involves a plane ride and then a long bus ride across a desolate landscape.
This Oregon team is not apt to lose focus. Defensive end Tony Washington told Hayden Kim of the Eugene Daily Emerald, “We always have to get better each week and last year, we kind of lost focus of that. We weren’t really thinking about improving as the University of Oregon and this year that’s our total focus: just trying get better each and every week. To be an elite team, you have to do that.”
The leadership and attitude this year will make the Ducks a very resilient team.