THE TEAMS: Oregon enters Saturday night's game riding a four-game winning streak after sprinting away from Cal last Thursday night. Arizona State comes into Autzen ranked 18th, is in the driver's seat of a gawd-awful Pac-12 South, and received a healthy dose of schadenfreude last night with the news of Arizona coach Mike Stoops' firing. Could we be seeing the Pac-12 Championship Game, round 1?
THE INJURIES: Oregon LB Michael Clay dressed for the game against Cal, but did not play. As of last week, he was at about 60%, and could possibly see action against the Sun Devils.
ASU's biggest injury woe is at cornerback, with defensive leader Omar Bolden out since April with a torn ACL. Sophomore Osahon Irabor suffered a bruised back against Utah, but it shouldn't keep him out of action. Senior offensive lineman Aderious Simmons should return Saturday after spraining his ankle in the season opener.
Oh yeah, and LaMichael James nearly had one of his arms torn loose from the rest of his body, before reattaching it in front of 60,000 concerned onlookers and shunning painkillers because they make him feel funny. He is listed as day-to-day.
THE COACHES: Head coach Dennis Erickson is the winningest head coach in Minnesota pee-wee hockey history. His Hawks teams won numerous titles and gained a reputation as ruthless and driven to win at all costs. Erickson was noted as a disciplinarian, especially in his treatment of future Minnesota North Stars prospect Gordon Bombay. Bombay was blamed by Erickson for missing a penalty shot to cost the team a title, and would exact his revenge by coaching the plucky and spirited District 5 team to a monumental upset against Coach Erickson's Hawks.
Oh wait, that's Jack Reilly, as portrayed by actor Lane Smith in the 1992 film, "The Mighty Ducks." Dennis Erickson is a football coach that looks a lot like him, and is an even bigger jerk than a guy who berates children for losing a meaningless game.
SUN DEVILS OF NOTE
QB Brock Osweiler - The 6'8" Osweiler is having a very good junior year thus far, completing two-thirds of his passes and ringing up 13 touchdowns. But that completion percentage dips to 58% on the road, and the 7'2" quarterback passed for a mere 14 yards the last time he was in Autzen Stadium. And playing in front of the Autzen crowd is a tall order for any quarterback, even the 7'9" Osweiler.
LB Vontaze Burfict - More on him in the Homer's Guide. But he concerns me.
WR Aaron Pflugrad - Pfluuuuuuuuuuuuu is one of three main receiving targets in ASU's pass-heavy offense. He is of note because he's the only one of the three who is white. At least, I'm assuming he's the only white one, since the other two are named Gerell Robinson and Jamal Miles. And those two couldn't possibly be white guys, right?
DUCKS OF NOTE
RB Tra Carson - The true freshman assumes the #2 running back role with LaMichael James out with a nearly-severed limb and De'Anthony Thomas busy being the only competent wide receiver. I refuse to use the term "thunder and lightning" to describe a Kenjon Barner-Tra Carson backfield tandem, so instead I'm going to call Carson Arnold Schwarzenneger to KJB's Danny DeVito.
CB Cliff Harris - Arizona State has an 8'4" quarterback, and he will be throwing the ball all over the field. I like Gildon, Mitchell, and Troy Hill just fine. But Cliff Harris is our single most talented defensive player. He should probably be on the field as much as possible on Saturday night.
WR Anybodybut De'Anthony - Josh Huff is finally 100% healthy. Lavasier Tuinei is only a foot or two shorter than 9'7" Brock Osweiler. Rahsaan Vaughn, David Paulson, Colt Lyerla, Justin Hoffman, Will Murphy, Eric Dungy, and about every other guy on the team have two hands capable of catching a football. Sooooooooooo...