JUSTIN HERBERT: QB
“He’s regressed slightly in my opinion in the last couple of games, forcing some throws, making some judgment decisions,” said former Oregon Ducks football coach Mike Bellotti during a podcast interview, “Bald Face Truth with John Canzano.”
He’s absolutely correct. Ever since the Washington game, Herbert has been a shell of himself. Not very fitting for a potential first-round pick. It’s not a coincidence that the offense has struggled ever since offensive lineman Penei Sewell went down with a high ankle sprain, yet for Herbert to look average is on him.
With the Civil war upon us, Herbert needs to return to form. Oregon State is the worst defensive team in the PAC-12 and allows the most points and yards per game.
Herbert and star wide receiver Dillon Mitchell have become a nifty duo, yet Herbert must be very cautious about staring a target down and deep balls because of safety Ugochukwu Amadi. Amadi has 46 tackles and three interceptions and is an excellent ball hawk. To be successful, Herbert must begin by throwing short and intermediate balls to the sideline and in the middle. This will cause Amadi to cheat up and then he can start moving the ball downfield by using his eyes to look off the safety first and then letting it fly.
JORDAN SCOTT: DT
Jordan Scott is another Duck who has regressed. Defending the run and putting pressure on the quarterback was the strength of the Oregon defense early in the year, yet that has since disappeared. The Beavers will not show anything tricky against the Ducks, however running back Jermar Jefferson is a beast carrying the ball leading all freshman nationally in rushing yards (1,316) and touchdowns (12).
Scott can not have a repeat of the second half by not being impactful. He must be a physical force in the middle stopping the run.
The Beavers have two major weapons, Jermar Jefferson and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. For Oregon to have success in this rivalry game, they must stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. The more time the QB has to sit in the pocket, the more time Hodgins has to get open and burn the Ducks for big plays.
JALEN JELKS: OLB
Jelks has the same responsibility as Scott, stop the run and put pressure on the QB.
The Beavers are a middle of the pack offense, they play fast and look for big plays. The only way to eliminate the big plays is to win the battle in the trenches and disrupt the timing of the offense. Jelks will not be going up against any standout lineman, so his presence must be felt.
TROY DYE: LB
Oregon’s leading tackler must have a game for the ages. Dye’s 101 tackles are sixth in the conference, yet he is going to have to be the anchor in the middle of the field. If the d-line is not performing or taking the blocks as designed, he must step up in the holes and get the ball carriers on the ground. Oregon State relies on big plays to keep them in games.
The Beavers like to spread the ball around offensively with Jefferson, Hodgins, Trevon Bradford, and Timmy Hernandez. Although Bradford leads the team in touchdowns (6) and Hernandez leads the team in receptions (52), they do not possess the playmaking ability as the other two. Dye is going to have his hands full having to defend against the run, as well as these two sure-handed receivers.
Dye and the defense must shut down the offense of the Beavers early and not allow any confidence to build. If State can keep the game close late, it will allow the Beavers to believe, and anything is possible in the Civil War game.