Practice Report: Oregon defense braces for physical run game against Utah

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

In Saturday’s game against Utah, the Ducks will be will be looking for their first road win in over a month. In order to do so, the Oregon defense must overcome the Utes’ physical run game led by running back Zack Moss.

“[Utah] has big boys, they’re fluid,” co-defense coordinator Joe Salave’a said. “Coach Kyle [Whittingham], over the years, has made it a staple of big, physical guys. It’s a great opportunity and a great challenge for us.”

Oregon’s last, and only win on the road this season came from a 42-24 victory in Berkeley against Cal. The team’s last two outings outside of Eugene, have resulted in ugly losses to both Washington State (34-20) and, more recently, to Arizona (44-15).

“This program, we have a lot to prove to ourselves,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “We felt that we had that formal win to Cal and then we didn’t do so good after that. Now we got to go play a good football team in a really hostile environment, a really tough place to play, against a team that really prides itself on physicality. To me, it’s what every program needs to re-establish itself.”

On the opposing side, the Utes have successfully defended their home field (posting a 3-1 home record) with heavy physicality powered by 13 offensive linemen weighing over 300 pounds on their roster.

While the roughness may be intimidating for some, Oregon nose tackle Jordon Scott said he’s liked what he’s seen the from Utah offense.

“They just bully guys and that’s what I like to see out of an O-line coming in,” Scott said. “I think the best part about that is that you know you are going against guys that believe in themselves and think they’re good.”

Leading the Utes’ offense will be Moss, a junior out of Hialeah Gardens, Florida. In his three seasons with Utah, he has posted 11 100-yard rushing games and one 200-yard game, for a total of 2,647 career rushing yards. He leads the team with 11 touchdowns this season.

“He runs, runs hard with low shoulders and balance,” Salave’a said. “Somethings that these players have you can’t coach and they’re doing a hell of a job getting him going in practice.”

Oregon is also preparing to face Texas high-school football standout, Jason Shelley. Shelley is replacing the injured Tyler Huntley, and although there is not much film on Shelley, the Ducks feel ready.

“He can throw it all over the place,” Cristobal said. “He’s very accurate. He can throw the deep ball, he can do the intermediate stuff, he gets the ball off quick to the perimeter and he can run. … They’re so diverse on what they do offensively. They make it hard to find the football. The eye-watch, the motions, the snug-sets or whatnot, so I’m sure he’s very comfortable.”

With senior inside linebacker Kaulana Apelu out for the remainder of the regular season, Oregon will bring in sophomore Sampson Niu to start in his place.

“He really is a good tackle and instinctive,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s certainly got some valuable game reps, where I think you’ll even see a better player this week.”

Saturday’s game will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. PT in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter: @maggie_vanoni

The post Practice Report: Oregon defense braces for physical run game against Utah appeared first on Emerald Media.

Read more here: https://www.dailyemerald.com/2018/11/07/practice-report-oregon-defense-braces-for-physical-run-game-against-utah/
Copyright 2018 Emerald Media