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Five Questions for Oregon Ahead of Road Showdown vs. UCLA

Will Oregon take care of business in Los Angeles?

There's a lot on the line for the Ducks and the Bruins as they prepare to clash off in what's shaping to be one of the top games in the country Saturday. 

There is still some unknown heading into this matchup. Here are five questions for the Ducks.

1. Will we see a complete game from the Ducks?

This is probably the biggest question for this team heading into this game and has been for much of the year. We haven't seen a strong game through four quarters since the Ducks upset Ohio State.

Slow starts have in large part been salvaged by big fourth quarters. Good teams don't let themselves get into those situations. With both teams thriving in the run game, drives could be hard to come by in this one, which will make every drive all the more important. You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get with the ball and win the turnover battle. 

2. What does a full game of Kayvon Thibodeaux look like?

It's hard to believe Thibodeaux hasn't played a full game this season, but that's where we're at. Like it or not, the defense has been described as bend don't break this year, partially due to their ability to force turnovers in big situations. 

With Thibodeaux's availability for a full game, this defense should be able to slam the door a bit more emphatically on drives, rather than squeaking by. He'll face a strong offensive line and I see it going one of two ways.

Either he dominates like many expect him to, or UCLA focuses on him and it allows some of the talented young players to step up and have a big impact.

3. Can Oregon slow down UCLA's ground attack?

The Ducks haven't been relatively average defending the run this year, as teams are averaging 137.7 rushing yards per game against them. That's good for sixth in the conference and they'll need to try and improve on that mark against the potent running back duo of Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. 

This game could very well be decided in the trenches. The Ducks will need to deliver that first punch and knock back the Bruins at the line of scrimmage. Look for guys like Popo Aumavae, Keyon Ware-Hudson and Jayson Jones to be heavily involved today.

4. Will Devon Williams continue to emerge?

Williams has put together some solid games this season, but he hasn't been the most consistent receiver for Oregon. Mario Cristobal said he's putting it together more in practice and taking accountability, which is good to hear. 

With UCLA boasting a strong run defense, Anthony Brown could look to Williams more on Saturday to move the ball. The Bruins haven't had a ton of success defending the pass, and Williams had his breakout game against this team last year. He has eight catches for 115 yards this season and is averaging 14.4 yards per catch.



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5. What will the running back rotation look like?

This is Oregon's second game without lead running back CJ Verdell. Against Cal last week, Travis Dye was the offense and led the team in both rushing and receiving. Byron Cardwell was the only other back to register a carry but the Ducks have a ton of talent at the position in Trey Benson and Seven McGee who are jumping at the bit to get some snaps. 

I didn't expect that we'd have a definitive answer to this question after the win over Cal and we still might not after today. Dye is a baller but he'll need a breather now and then

We hear about all the talented recruits in the backfield every year. Jim Mastro fought hard to get Cristobal to budge on taking two running backs in the 2021 cycle.

Well now they're both here and it's time to cut it loose and give them a chance to help you win the game. That's why you recruited them.

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