I'm having a hard time getting excited for this week's game. WSU may be clawing its way back to respectability, but they are still WSU. Even if Darron Thomas or LaMichael James don't see the field, the Ducks will almost definitely roll over the Cougars.
The Ducks are 35 point favorites, and Accuscore currently has them as winning this game 95% of the time.
Since a loss is very unlikely, here's what I want to see out of the Ducks this weekend.
If Bryan Bennett plays, I want to see him go through his progessions.
Bryan Bennett is an incredibly talented football player. He has the speed and arm strength to take the offense to the highest level possible. Unfortunately, I don't think we know quite yet if he has the decision-making abilities. In the Colorado game, Bennett stared down his first receiver constantly. This worked out well since we were playing Colorado. And let's be honest, it will probably work out well against the Cougars. But if Thomas misses an extended amount of time, this weakness could be exploited.
Darron Thomas has excelled at Oregon because he has been pretty spectacular at making those split second decisions. He doesn't wait to move on to another receiver, and that's what Bennett will need to learn to do against top level competition, and this weekend could provide more important experience for the young QB.
I want to see Oregon's offensive line consistently win the line of scrimmage battle.
Oregon's offensive line has been very impressive this season. When they are on, they have been dominant, even against the best Pac-12 defenses the Ducks have faced. But they've also been pretty inconsistent this season.
Even against Colorado, the Ducks got into a number of 3rd and longs early in the game. Against Cal, the Ducks could get no consistent ground game going until the 3rd quarter. Moving forward, the Ducks need to get a push on just about every play. They should be beating teams like Colorado and Washington State on every snap. I don't expect 40 yard runs every play, but I'd like to see a few more 3-5 yard runs, and fewer 3rd and long situations. With Kenjon or DAT in the backfield, this responsibility falls on the offensive line.
I want to see the defense hold WSU to less than 10 points
Washington State is not a bad team offensively. They have a number of weapons, especially at receiver, and can do some damage to the Ducks. But Oregon's defense has been improving, and shutting down the Cougars would be another step forward.
This game is set up very well for the defense as well. WSU has a fairly poor rushing attack. If the Ducks can shut that down with their front 4, the Ducks will be able to bring a number of blitzes at Marshall Lobbestael while he tries to find open receivers. Even without Cliff Harris, the Ducks have a strong secondary. Stopping a talented group of receivers without their top cover corner would help relieve any doubts we have before the Ducks move on to the toughest part of their schedule.