I'm posting over here because jtlight's breakdown of the big plays at USC is way too good to push down the page...
Look, I'm not going to call out Kevin Craft. He wasn't supposed to be the UCLA starter this year. A little more time with Slick Rick and he'd probably grow into a decent QB. Oregon's pass defense has been abused and we'd all like to see a better performance. It damn well better happen Saturday, and here's why:
Craft does not throw the ball downfield effectively. The Bruins (2-3, 1-1 Pac-10) are ranked 109th for yards per attempt, and Craft's long on the season is just 32 yards. Craft passes for 189 yards a game - that ranks 87th. He's thrown just 4 TDs and has been picked 5 times. Only 13 D-1 schools have fewer passing TDs than the Bruins.
Can a guy with those stats hurt the Ducks? Yeah, maybe.
I like what I hear from other gents here on ATQ about playing the safety a few yards deeper. But the Ducks can't overreact to USC's success with the deep ball last week by playing off UCLA's receivers this week. Craft has completed 57 percent and if the Ducks don't do a solid job of tight man coverage, he could nickel and dime us all night long. Given Oregon's running game, that HAS to be UCLA's strategy this week...get first downs, keep JJ and Blount off the field, maybe try to surprise the Ducks with - yes, I'll say it - play action and a rare deep ball.
The Oregon D-line can play a huge role in disrupting Craft. If he's throwing short all game, they won't have much time to get to him. So our big guys need to get their hands up and impact Craft's vision and throwing lanes, maybe even tip a ball or two and create turnovers. If they can't get sacks, then they need to contribute in other ways.
UCLA's offensive performance so far this season suggests that now is when the Ducks should take a step in the right direction. Just one step. Improve, win, heal up, tweak the schemes during a BYE week, then get back to business.
Man - I'm still pissed about USC. I'm grabbing an early Friday flight to Eugene and I'm looking forward to Saturday night's ass-whooping of UCLA. Sure wish I could buy a cool ATQ shirt to wear to the game (hint, hint).