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Gameday Q&A with Addicted to Quack: Questioning the Ducks before Stanford-Oregon

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Many thanks to David Piper for his responses this week

Steve Dykes

1. Marcus Mariota has been playing at a sensational level all year long, but it seems like he's tasked with doing it all himself to a certain degree. Is that the case, and if it is, is he alone capable of winning this game and the Pac-12 for the Ducks?

I don't think Mariota has been tasked with 'doing it himself.' You could argue that he was during the Washington State and Arizona games, where the offensive line was just destroyed by injuries. But since offensive lineman Jake Fisher has come back, running back Royce Freeman has gone well over a hundred yards rushing every single game, and the Ducks' receiving corps is among the best in the conference. Mariota can win a game all by himself--he did so against Washington State--but it's not something they need on an every game basis.

2. The o-line was banged up earlier this year - how's their health progressing coming into this Saturday? Is this still going to be a problem area for the Ducks?

It's getting better, for sure. Oregon was missing their top four offensive tackles during the Washington State and Arizona games. Jake Fisher has come back, which has been huge and has been a big reason for Oregon's improved running game after the Arizona loss. Andre Yruretagoyena should be back soon, though it doesn't look like he'll be back for Stanford. Along the lines is where Stanford has won this game the last two years. Having an injured line isn't great for Oregon.

3. We've been hearing a lot about Royce Freeman this week - is he the one non-Mariota offensive player that we should be paying attention to, or should we be looking at someone else?

Nah, he's the guy. He's big and strong, but also fast. He can bulldoze his way to tough yards or turn the corner. Of course, Stanford is great at tackling in space, so this should be a tough matchup.

4. The Oregon defense has looked vulnerable at times this year, and they've given up 30 points in four of their last five games - is there one particular area of the defense that Stanford could look to exploit?

No. There are lots of areas on defense that Stanford can look to exploit. The defensive line hasn't been great--especially with Arik Armstead injured, and the linebackers haven't been very good at tackling. Of course, Stanford's offense hasn't been great shakes, either. Oregon has to play well on defense, because their offense struggles against the Cardinal.

5. Finally, I'm curious how Oregon fans view Stanford now that this rivalry has blossomed into something that has shaped the Pac-12 race the past four years. Knowing that Washington and Oregon State are always in the picture, where does Stanford fit among the Ducks' rivals now?

Hating Washington is at the very core of a Duck fan's being. Nothing can ever match that. Oregon State is a friendly rivalry. We certainly are tired of losing to Stanford, and you could say that bad blood is escalating. But this isn't really a rivalry. You need more than a couple of years of bad blood for that.