STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL/GAME BREAKDOWN
Scouting the run offense: With the emergence of freshman running back Travis Dye to compliment the play of Oregon’s leading rusher CJ Verdell, there is no reason to expect that this dynamic duo will have a letdown in the final game of the regular season, especially against Oregon State.
Dye had a good game last week when he ran for 105 yards on 18 carries against Arizona State. With Verdell banged up and senior Tony Brooks-James proving unreliable, Dye made the most of his opportunity by keeping the Ducks’ offense operating at a high level.
In his past two games, Dye has carried the ball 27 times for 171 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry over that span.
Serving as running mate, Verdell, who will enter this week healthy, leads Oregon with 788 yards on 165 carries and six scores.
Very similar to Dye in size and stature, both players show great patience at the line of scrimmage, often letting the play develop before running through the hole. They have good burst to get into the secondary while also being able to lower their shoulders and run with power.
That combination should bode well when the Ducks go up against the Pac-12’s worst rush defense in Oregon State. The Beavers give up an average of 271.8 rushing yards per game and 6.84 yards per carry — statistics that rank in the nation’s bottom five.
Linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is the leader of the defense. He’s Oregon State’s best defender against the run with 11.5 tackles for loss on the season — he’ll be tasked with trying to keep the Ducks running backs at bay and limit the explosion plays Oregon has grown accustomed too.
Where Oregon is also a threat running the ball comes from quarterback Justin Herbert.
Despite his 6-foot-6, 233-pound frame, Herbert shows surprising athleticism and has consistently kept plays and drives alive by using his legs to get out of the pocket and pick up yards. On the season, he has rushed for 178 yards and two scores, therefore making defenses play him honestly and straight up if they don’t want to get by his legs.
Last year, Oregon racked up 311 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, making a mockery of the Oregon State defense. This year, with the Beavers faring no better against the run, it’s widely expected that Dye and Verdell — and possibly Brooks-James — could have a career day to help the Ducks get their eighth win of the season.