Stackup: Quarterbacks will be main attraction when Oregon faces Cal – Oregon Daily Emerald
Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost was quick to point out on Monday that Oregon has now played in four games that have come down to the final play. Before Thursday, they had just won one of them. But, after a thrilling come-from-behind 61-55 win over Arizona State, the Ducks added to that total, while also keeping their slim Pac-12 title hopes alive.
Vernon Adams Jr. can be thanked for that. Adams led the Ducks to their second consecutive win last Thursday after passing for 312 yards and four touchdowns. He also further displayed why he’s been referred to as “Big Play VA” since he was at Eastern Washington, especially after eluding defenders before throwing a touchdown to Dwayne Stanford to force overtime.
On the other sideline on Saturday, a similar threat at quarterback will challenge a Ducks defense which ranks last in the Pac-12 in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense. Cal’s Jared Goff is projected to be picked early in the 2016 NFL Draft by many media outlets, and has averaged 317 yards passing per game this season to go along with 22 touchdowns. But while Adams has taken forward steps in his two appearances since returning from injury, it seems as if Goff has gone backwards in the Bears’ last three games – all of which were losses.
Regardless, both defenses will face a stiff test against these quarterbacks this Saturday in a game with bowl eligibility implications present.
Here’s how Oregon and Cal stack up:
Oregon offense vs. Cal defense
Adams said Monday that the offense is getting closer to where the unit needs to be. It looked that way too, as the Ducks amounted 501 yards of offense last Thursday. Facing a blitz-heavy Arizona State team, the Ducks were able to generate 186 yards on the ground as well. Through the air, Darren Carrington showed once again how important he can be for Oregon’s offense. The redshirt sophomore recorded his second consecutive 100-yard receiving performance this season.
Oregon won’t be facing the Cal defenses of the past few seasons, though. While the unit gives up an average of 418 yards of offense per game, the Bears have forced the most turnovers in the Pac-12 with 22. In addition, the Bears defense has kept Cal in striking distance to win in every game this season aside from its contest with UCLA, in which quarterback Josh Rosen scorched its secondary.
Cal offense vs. Oregon defense
Cal head coach Sonny Dykes’s Bear Raid offense isn’t creating the results he’s likely envision. The Mercury News noted that Cal is averaging just 26.6 points per game in Pac-12 play, which ranks ninth. In addition, Goff appeared frustrated and uncomfortable at times in the Bears’ 27-21 loss to USC last week and also threw two interceptions, bringing his total to eight in the Bears’ last four games.
But, Oregon’s defense hasn’t proven to be a stiff challenge to the majority of its opponents this season. And with Goff’s ability, as well as some of the playmakers he’ll have spread out wide, it could be another long night for the Ducks secondary.
Cal averages 490 yards of offense per game. Wide receiver Kenny Lawler has 42 receptions for 527 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He’ll certainly be Goff’s favorite target come Saturday.
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JustinFWise
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