The Ducks have the conference's third-best scoring offense through seven weeks at 33.8 points per game. One of only two schools they trail is UCLA, who comes in just a hair ahead at 33.8 points per game.
Tim DeRuyter's defense is getting healthier, but hasn't forced a turnover in back-to-back weeks now. This week's game could very well turn into a shootout if Oregon isn't careful. Either way, Joe Moorhead will need a big day from these players.
1. Anthony Brown-Quarterback
Statistically speaking, Brown is coming off his best game of the season. Yet, despite going 20-of-28 and passing for 244 yards and touchdown while adding 44 rushing yards on 13 carries for another score, he faced boos from the home crowd at Autzen.
Brown's play has been a topic all year for Duck fans, but he continues to come up with clutch plays in the big moments. What's more, with the Ducks facing a stingy front that could make it more difficult to run the ball, this could be his opportunity to let it fly. UCLA has the worst passing defense in the Pac-12 at 290.1 yards per game. If they load the box, Brown could be tasked with moving the ball through the air more than he has in most games.
The Ducks have plenty of weapons for him to choose from, so stepping up in the pocket for some riskier throws, particularly downfield like we saw to Johnny Johnson III against Cal, could go far in helping this offense put up points Saturday. Oregon is back under the national spotlight and it's time for Brown to deliver and play four consistent quarters of football.
2. Devon Williams-Wide Receiver
Devon Williams looks like he could be on the verge of a breakout game. After flashing against Ohio State, we didn't see any of him against Arizona. Now heading into a homecoming to Southern California, Williams has built a solid chemistry with Brown, which was on display with back shoulder throws that made up a solid performance (4 catches, 67 yards) against Cal last week.
Mario Cristobal said that Williams is taking more accountability and stepping up as a performer in practice, and with the staff pushing him to reach his full potential, we're starting to see what many envisioned when he elected to transfer from USC. Travis Dye is still the most productive weapon on this offense, but having an athletic go-to wide receiver like Williams, who towers over just about every DB in the conference, is music to Duck fans' ears.
3. Alex Forsyth-Center
Forsyth is slated to make his return to the lineup for the first time since playing against Arizona. Back spasms forced him to miss the Stanford game, and then he missed the Cal game last week after all signs pointed towards him being a go.
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Even without the veteran center, the Ducks' offensive line looked great, and even stuck with the same five throughout the game. With his return, the group figures to take an even larger step forward. Oregon will need him to be at his best as the UCLA front has had its way more often than not against opposing offenses this season.
Look for him to help pave the way for the Oregon running backs and keep Brown upright in what could turn into a shootout.
Bonus: Byron Cardwell-Running Back
Cardwell is a bit of a wildcard. Why you ask? Because we still don't have a solid understanding of what this running back rotation looks like without CJ Verdell. Dye carried the ball 19 times against Cal, but the freshman from San Diego was the only other back to tote the rock.
He carries his 210 pounds on his 6-foot frame very well and is nimble between the tackles. Even so, the staff could really use his physicality for some thunder to pair with Dye's lightning, and Cardwell could be what they're looking for. Cristobal said that Trey Benson will be in the rotation this week as well, but in a game that could be one of the best battles we'll see at the line of scrimmage, it couldn't hurt to have more bodies. Time to let 'em loose.
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