1. Find DeForest Buckner. Buckner’s statistics don’t jump out the box score and wow you, but the defensive lineman still has the power and athleticism to dominate the line of scrimmage and take away an offense’s options. The Ducks move him all along the line of scrimmage to shut down plays and take advantage of situational matchups. Because he’s the most likely person to draw a double-team, it will be imperative that the WSU offensive linemen are able to locate him at all times.
2. Watch the football, not the running back. Because Oregon running back Royce Freeman is one of the best players the Cougars will face all year, it will be tempting for the defenders to compensate by shadowing his movements and rallying to him whenever he appears to receiver a handoff. That will be death against this Ducks offense, though, because Freeman is just as likely to be a decoy for a quarterback run or pass. QB Taylor Alie already has an 87-yard touchdown run this season and you can bet he’ll want to test the WSU defense with his legs.
3. Make the Oregon offense one-dimensional. The defense simply has to stop Freeman and the Ducks ground game to have a shot. Neither Alie nor Jeff Lockie have proven themselves as passers. If WSU can stake an early lead or shut down the ground game, it can force the Ducks offense to take flight. Once that’s done, sacks, breakups and a timely interception could win it for the Cougars.
4. Get the ball to River Cracraft. As a true freshman, River Cracraft broke out against the Ducks with 65 receiving yards and a touchdown, and he followed it up last year during his impressive sophomore season by leading the team with eight catches for 107 yards and another score. Some struggles in the first two games have kept Cracraft from the productivity many expected of him this season, but he can put himself back on the national map with a big game at Oregon.
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