Just over 24 hours until kickoff, we are breaking down Oregon’s next match-up vs the Wyoming Cowboys.
Each Friday, we will preview the Ducks upcoming opponent, including some keys to the contest:
GAME 3: WYOMING
The Cowboys enter Saturday’s contest with a record of 1-1. In their first game of the season, Wyoming failed to bring their offense to Iowa as the Hawkeyes stifled them 24-3. Last weekend, they cruised by lowly Gardner-Webb 27-0 at home for their first win of the 2017 campaign. Entering the Oregon clash, the Cowboys have the No. 3 ranked pass defense in the nation, but you saw their competition. Their rush defense ranks near the bottom with 155.5 yards (82nd) per game. Overall, they possess the 12th-ranked defense in the nation. Offensively, it has been a different story. Future NFL Draft pick Josh Allen leads the No. 111 ranked offense into Saturday’s affair. The Cowboys are averaging just 62.0 yards on the ground per game.
JOSH ALLEN, Quarterback
The passing attack is ranked No. 51 nationally, averaging 251.0 passing yards per game. Nobody in the Cowboy backfield has over 57 rushing yards after two games. Clearly, this team relies on their defense and quarterback. Allen is the real deal though. Through two games, he has completed 45-of-72 passes (62.5 percent) for a modest 502 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers are not eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination, yet he is known to be a slow starter. Not to mention, his coaches don’t ask him to do much more than win the game. He doesn’t have wheels, so don’t look for him to stretch the field with his legs.
He’s a big, 6-foot-5, 233-pound upright passer that can throw over his linemen with great ease. Yet, if the Ducks defensive line can create some chaos, good things could happen. After watching both Wyoming game’s this season, it seems like they were basic with the game plan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys opened up the playbook on Saturday, just in time for the Ducks’ offensive attack. Austin Conway is Allen’s No. 1 target in the offense. His wide receiver has 19 catches for 186 yards and a score this year. C.J. Johnson has also entered the fold as a reliable deep threat. He has nine grabs for 152 yards and a tally. Johnson is averaging a mouthwatering 16.9 YPC. And keep an eye on Cowboy kicker Cooper Rothe. He is tied for the team-lead in points (12) this season after missing just one attempt in 2017 (3/3 XP, 3/4 FGA).
Last season: 209-of-373 (56 percent), 3,203 passing yards, 8.6 YPA, 28 TD, 15 INT and 144.9 QBR
JUSTIN HERBERT, Quarterback
The Eugene product has been incredible to start the season. Herbert has completed 78 percent of his pass attempts (42-of-54) for 646 yards, four scores and one interception from a deflection. Last weekend vs Nebraska, scouts clocked him at 94 mph during certain passing plays. Don’t be fooled by his 6-foot-6 frame with a cannon arm, Herbert has tucked the ball and run nine times for 43 yards (4.8 YPC). The former 3-sport star at Sheldon High School has some serious athleticism. Not to mention, he can make all the passes required from the position. As of Tuesday this week, 21 NFL scouts were making the trip to Laramie to witness the potential shootout. Herbert has been astonishing against two lesser defensive opponents this year. He’s averaging 12.0 YPA with a ridiculous QB rating of 199.0 through two games.
The Ducks don’t need to rely on their gunslinger nearly as much as Wyoming. Herbert has the luxury of one of the best, if not THE best running back in the nation in the form of “Rolls” Royce Freeman. The senior is on Heisman patrol with 362 total yards and six touchdowns already. Not to mention, Herbert has a plethora of receivers and tight ends to calm any nerves. Charles Nelson is leading the group with 13 receptions for 216 yards and one score. He also has a presence in the run game with 17 yards and another TD. True freshman Johnny Johnson III is second on the team with six catches for 119 yards. Meanwhile, Brenden Schooler, Jacob Breeland and Dillon Mitchell each have receiving touchdowns thus far. Herbert should not feel as much pressure to produce like his counterpart Allen. It will be interesting to see their in-game adjustments.
Last season: 162-of-255 (64 percent), 1,936 passing yards, 7.6 YPA, 19 TD, 4 INT and 148.8 QBR
The Cowboys are dumping all their eggs into one proverbial basket, whereas the Ducks have multiple options to dismantle an opposing defense. It could come down to coaching when it’s all said and done. The Ducks are trying to achieve balance in their offensive attack, while maintaining integrity with their defense. The greatness of the uptempo attack is the opposing defense is gasping for air with hands on their hips wondering why they didn’t condition more in the summer. Like everything in life, it’s all about balance. Leave it to head coach Willie Taggart to find Oregon’s on Saturday.