Both Stanford and Oregon are going into the weekend not where they would like to be as far as the conference championship race. However, when Oregon and Stanford face off it is must watch television, no matter what the records.
Diving into the film on Oregon, the biggest standout is the problems in the red zone. While the Ducks have gotten to the red zone 41 times, they have scored only 30 touchdowns. When the field gets compressed and running back Royce Freeman gets stalled up the middle this team really struggles. This really showed against Nebraska when they went 1-5 on 2-point conversions.
This also leads to the bigger offensive problem, the need for space and the huge amount they ask from their quarterback. The offensive scheme Oregon runs relies on routes that create space in coverage and getting the running game out to the edges. Not only is this not a red zone conducive scheme but also creates problems for the offense when the defense is able to use their corners and safeties to close on space and compress the running game into the box.
As far as the quarterback is concerned, he is supposed to hold defenses with the read option and constantly improvise with his legs. While it seemed easy with Mariota and Adams Jr., there have been problems with Dakota Prukop and now Justin Herbert at the helm. When the scheme is designed to get guys wide open but fails, the quarterback is expected to get them wide open by running and forcing the coverage to stick for long periods of time. This means they are banking on the quarterbacks legs and ability to throw on the run the defining factor that breaks the defense.
On the defense, when the corners play man they are very aggressive but bit on every cut the receivers make. It is really easy to hurt this team on the double move deep routes. When they play in a zone they offer up a lot of cushion and the team struggles as a unit wrapping up and tackling.
The upside for the Ducks and what makes them dangerous is that if they get their outside run game going then they can really start rolling. The rest of the offense will be able to build off of a solid running attack and this team desperately wants to make games shootouts. Especially against a struggling offensive unit in Stanford. The goal for the Cardinal will be to force this offense away from the big, outside play the Ducks need to get this explosive offense going. Forcing the Ducks into long drives that are up middle and involve small, grinding plays kills the Oregon offense. Then Stanford need to put pressure on a weak Ducks defense that has to try and tackle a fully healthy, and on fire Christian McCaffrey.