3 and Out - Oregon prepares for WSU
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks defense led the country with 26 interceptions last season.
This year: 7.
That number could balloon a bit this Saturday.
The improved Washington State Cougars (4-3, 2-2) play at No. 2 Oregon at Autzen Stadium in a 7 p.m. game that promises to see plenty of passes launched from the visiting team, coached by Mike Leach.
WSU, which runs the ball just 19 times per game, ranks eighth in the country in passing yards per game (346.9) and first in pass attempts with 381.
That’s about 54 pass attempts per game.
“They throw the ball a ton,” Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.
But not always effectively and that could play into the hands of Oregon (6-0, 3-0).
WSU junior quarterback Connor Halliday has thrown for 2,241 yards and 14 touchdown but also has thrown 13 interceptions.
He threw three on Saturday in a 52-24 loss at home to Oregon State.
Aliotti said he thought Halliday at times became careless against OSU.
“It looked like the young man just kind of threw some up there,” Aliotti said.
Aliotti said he likes WSU’s short passing game and believes the Cougars are good at what they do and could pose problems for Oregon with their ability to get rid of the ball quickly.
“Whenever a team throws the ball that many times, obviously some good things will happen for them,” Aliotti said. “But hopefully some good things will happen for us as far as picks or sacks and stuff like that.”
Getting sacks won’t be easy. WSU, using three and four receiver sets, has allowed 11 this season. Not bad considering the number of pass attempts.
Aliotti said Oregon’s defensive backs want to add to the team’s interception total but had better be leery of WSU’s aerial attack and how officials could call the game down field.
“They’d better be on their game every down because they throw the ball so much and they are going to take their shots down field, too,” he said. “If I were them I’d throw some deep balls and hope to get a (pass interference) because officials always call a (pass interference), cause they’re horrible. They don’t know how to call the game because they don’t understand it.”
Officiating aside, WSU at least should be able to give UO’s secondary a workout.
“They’re a challenge for us,” Aliotti said. “They could be very pesky in their approach."