The story of the last two Oregon games has been the failure of the Oregon offense. After a sub-par performance against LSU, the Ducks look to rebound against a solid Nevada team.
While Nevada will be no pushover, this matchup is not really about the Wolf Pack defense, it's about the Oregon offense. The Ducks hold advantages in most of these matchups. With stars LaMichael James and Darron Thomas out of sync against LSU last week, they will need to rebound against the Wolf Pack, and play up their potential.
Oregon O-line against Nevada D-line:
For the first time in what seems like a while, the Ducks will have a strong advantage in the trenches. The Wolf Pack lost First Team WAC selection Dontay Moch who was a 3rd round draft choice. They return seniors Zack Modonick and Brett Roy at DT. Both are around 280 pounds, and Roy was a Second Team WAC selection last year. But they are breaking in two unheralded and largely inexperienced players at the ends. Brock Hekking is a redshirt freshman, while Albert Rosette made 17 tackles last year (no sacks or TFLs).
Oregon should win these matchups fairly easily. The Ducks actually did a decent job against LSU. They didn't give up sacks and didn't allow many tackles for loss, but they just couldn't get a push. Against Nevada, they should get that push. Nevada was a defense that gave up around 4 yards per carry last year, and that will most likely increase this season.
Oregon backfield against Nevada linebackers:
With the Ducks advantages against the Nevada line, the backfield should be in a position to make a lot of players. While LaMichael was tentative last week, he shouldn't have the same problems this week. He should see open holes, and if he hits those holes with authority, the Wolf Pack will have problems keeping him down.
Nevada has a solid linebacking corp, led by James-Michael Johnson, their leading tackler from last season. But if the offensive line can get to the linebackers at all, the Wolf Pack will be in trouble. Even if their not, the speed of LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas will be very tough the Nevada to keep up with. If they start to give up chunks of yards early, they will need to bring up safety help if they haven't already, giving Oregon receivers some opportunities to make plays on the edges and down the field.
Oregon wide receivers against Nevada:
The only matchup that Nevada stays even with Oregon is in the secondary. Nevada is returning a number of experienced players, including their two safeties, Duke Williams and Marlon Johnson. They aren't quite as set at corner, but they should be solid at the position.
And against Oregon's receivers, that might be all that's necessary. For Oregon, this was the one position that was truly laughable against LSU. The Ducks receivers could not get any separation and did not even look like they belonged on the same field as the LSU defenders. With Oregon holding the advantage in the trenches, Oregon receivers will almost definitely be facing one-on-one coverage all day. It's time to see if they can actually take advantage of that.
Oregon vs. Itself:
This is the real matchup of the game. While Oregon's offense was definitely not good against LSU, they did themselves no favors. Penalties, fumbles, and poor execution killed a number of promising drives.
The circumstances are very different in this game. Oregon has a distinct physical advantage that they did not have last week. If they execute their gameplan, it will be very tough for Nevada to stop them. Darron Thomas needs to be sharp and accurate. LaMichael James must be decisive. The Oregon receivers have to show that they can gain separation from defenders and get open. The offensive line needs to open holes.
If the Ducks aren't shooting themselves in the foot, it should be fairly simple for them to get into a rhythm. They need to stay in standard downs where they are a threat to run or pass.
Oregon has the ability to put up a lot of points on the Nevada defense, but they have to go out there are execute the gameplan. After what happened in Dallas, I think the offense is ready to do just that.