If the No. 10 Oregon Ducks are going to defeat Texas in the Alamo Bowl they’d better spend the next couple of weeks fixing their run defense or preparing to score a ton of points.
Texas has many issues that have caused it to lose four games all in blowout fashion. But one thing the Longhorns do very well is run the football.
Conversely, Oregon’s defense over the final month of the season adopted the matador style of run defense.
Wave at it, watch it run by and hope it doesn’t return.
“We’ve had our little issues giving up more yards rushing than I’d like but I don’t think it’s broken,” Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti told reporters Saturday. “It’s just a matter of in particular games we didn’t play as well as we could play and that’s the nature of the game of football.”
Oregon allowed 925 yards rushing over its last four games. Stanford and Arizona dominated Oregon on the ground combining for 578 rushing yards (274 for the Cardinal, 304 for the Wildcats). Oregon held Utah in check allowing just 116. But in their final regular season game the Ducks surrendered 231 to Oregon State, a team that entered the game averaging 78 on the ground.
Aliotti blamed himself for the OSU game stating that he didn’t expect the Beavers, a potent passing team, to try to run that often and didn’t prepare his team as well as he could have.
Regardless of which opponent did what and how, stopping the run has become an issue for Oregon (10-2), and Texas (8-4) certainly will look to exploit that on Dec. 30 in San Antonio, Texas.
“(Rushing’s) their strength and (stopping the run) is something that we haven’t been as good as we need to be recently,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told reporters Saturday.
Texas ranks 36th in the country in rushing yards per game (197.6).
Sophomore running back Johnathan gray (780 yards, four touchdowns) and junior Malcolm Brown (714, nine) carry the running game.
Oregon will see a lot of them in the Alamo Bowl.
“Not good enough,” Helfrich said describing his defense’s effort against the run. “I think that’s maybe the easiest way to put it. Some of it we can scheme it a little bit better. Some of it is tackling. Some of it is trying to do somebody else’s job.”