Can Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner break away?
The two young running backs did a solid job after star De’Anthony Thomas went down on the opening kickoff in the Cal game, but they did have four fumbles between them. The Ducks kept three but the Colorado defense has certainly being instructed to rip and strip all this week, knowing DAT is likely out and these two shifty, dangerous but as yet unproven tailbacks are set to carry the load (goducks.com photo).
Marshall and Tyner have the opportunity to establish themselves as the workhorse, highly productive feature backs for the bulk of the PAC-12 campaign. They have to be ball security conscious, but they can’t let that awareness impede their creativity or instinctiveness in attacking the defense. Oregon needs the two to have a big day against Colorado to build momentum in the running game with big, big match ups ahead on the schedule.
Can the Ducks get Colt Lyerla off the milk carton?
Mackey Award Watch List? All-American? 11 touchdowns in 32 catches as a freshman and sophomore? The Ducks haven’t connected much with the gifte Hillsboro High product, and now would be a good time. In 2009 Oregon had the same trouble finding Ed Dickson early in the year and he broke out with a three-touchdown effort versus Cal. Now would be a good time time to find Colt a meaningful role in the Oregon attack. Dickson rode the momentum of that Cal game to have a great year, making a pivotal catch in the closing seconds of the Arizona game to get the Ducks to overtime.
Campus Insiders is reporting that Lyerla did not make the trip to Colorado. Pharoah Brown and Johnny Mundt will have to step into the playmaking tight end role, today and perhaps going forward.
Mundt had a breakout game against Tennessee with five catches for 121 yards and two tds. Brown was singled out in spring ball as one of the players who had made tremendous strides in his game before being hampered by a leg injury in fall camp.
Can the D-line be ferocious?
Ricky Havili-Heimuli limped off the field against California, and the the Buffaloes have given up six sacks so far this year. The defensive line needs to disrupt the rhythm of the Buffs passing game, not allow Connor Wood extra time to find Paul Richardson.
Can Troy Hill be Momba like?
With DAT on the sidelines wearing a boot on a bum ankle, Troy Hill takes over returning kickoffs. The 5-11, 168-lb. junior is fast and tough, but his first time as a starting returner, he has to field the ball cleanly, hand on to it, and accelerate into his running lanes. Will Hill provide some momentum and explosion in his new role?
Will we get the good Mariota or the mediocre Mariota?
Oregon’s Heisman Trophy candidate has struggled early in games, and only found his best passing rhythm for two quarters against Tennessee. He faces a porous Colorado secondary that gave up 414 yards to the Beavers last week. With Washington and UCLA looming, the Ducks need their leader to change the conversation about his accuracy and consistency.