Dear frenemy Adam Chimeo of Addicted to Quack was more than willing to answer some of our questions about the Oregon Ducks. Here’s what he had to say!
P.S. I jumped on their pod to talk Cal and they also had some great film breakdown over there as well, so make sure to give them a read!
1. Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
It’s the easy answer, but it’s also the truth: Sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough is the leader of this offense, and if we win it’ll be because he had another strong performance in his debut season as a starter. Through four games, Shough (rhymes with Duck) has a passer rating of 170.3 with ten total touchdowns and four interceptions.
He’s shown the ability to create explosive plays either with his legs or through the air, and has multiple long touchdown drives under his belt that suggest he has an overall command of Joe Moorhead’s offense. However, the games against Wazzu and Oregon State show that he’s still prone to a few rookie mistakes—last week a pair of interceptions greatly contributed to their loss against the Beavers—if Oregon loses to Cal this Saturday, it’ll partially be due to a couple bad decisions from Shough.
2. Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
Noah Sewell, brother of Penei Sewell, is a former five-star freshman linebacker that has earned immediate playing time as a starter. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Sewell is freakishly fast for a player his size. Occasionally he’s been in the wrong spot, which is to be expected from a true freshman, but more often than not he is blowing up a block and causing general havoc. He already has two sacks and five tackles-for-a-loss, but just like Kayvon Thibodeaux (another former five-star defensive standout that Cal fans should know about) Sewell is likely to get better as his freshman season progresses.
3. Who's one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for you?
Devon Williams sat out last season due to transfer rules, now the former USC Trojan has emerged as one of Oregon’s best pass-catchers. The 6’5 receiver is coming off back-to-back games with over 100 yards receiving, and also scored a touchdown in both of those contests. Oregon is not afraid to air it out, and Williams seems to be Shough’s new favorite target.
4. What does Oregon need to do to win the game?
Hold on to the damn ball! Oregon has turned over the ball eight times in four games while forcing just four turnovers.The Ducks are overall efficient on offense, but the turnovers have fueled their opponents every week. Tackling would also be a smart way to win, but the Duck defense isn’t up for that particular challenge this strange season, so we’ll probably need to just keep scoring a lot.
5. What does Cal need to do to win the game?
Take full advantage of Oregon’s mistakes and play a physical game, especially in the trenches. Just like most of college football, a shortened spring and fall camp has wreaked havoc on our run-stopping ability, so use your impressive backs to pound the rock and pray that Garbers can find the open man when our younger DBs are out of position.
Also, don’t help out Oregon’s offense by turning over the ball, or things can get out of hand quickly.
6. How do you see the game going?
I think both teams have at least one turnover, and that Oregon ultimately pulls away from Cal in the third quarter to win 41 to 28. Garbers and the CAL run game will finish with good numbers, but Oregon will be able to move down the field with relative ease.
7. Who are the prominent players who opted out or transferred and will the team be able to replace them?
Our once vaunted defense has been brought down to earth after the departures of safety Jevon Holland, safety Brady Breeze, and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. We’re also missing outland trophy winner Penei Sewell on the offensive line, meaning we have five fresh starters on the O-line, though they’ve been surprisingly adequate as a unit.
Like many PAC-12 coaches, Cristobal has been secretive towards which players are out due to COVID related issues and which are just injured, but fans suspect some of our tight ends and defensive backups have missed some time due to contact tracing issues. We should be at close to 100 percent this Saturday… knock on wood.
8. You get to swap exactly one starter from Cal for their corresponding position on Oregon. Who do you swap and why?
I’d love to have Camryn Bynum in our backfield somewhere. Or Elijah Hicks, our safeties could use some better competition.
9. . Whom is the subject of ire for Duck Nation right now? (AKA, Who do you want to punch in the face question)
Basically anyone who refuses to wear a mask. This could have been a really good season for us if not for, you know, the global pandemic.
Team Specific Questions
1. What are your thoughts on how the defensive line is playing? Are they above or below expectations? Why do you think Oregon has been struggling on defense?
For the same reasons everyone else is having trouble stopping the run in the PAC-12: a strange and limited spring and fall camp. Especially considering this is a veteran unit, it’s the most obvious answer when explaining why this one proud group has become so pedestrian as of late.
2. Which open job do you think would be the best fit for Joe Moorhead?
Shhh, we don’t talk about that. At least not until he delivers us a Rose Bowl appearance. Maybe after he rehabs with us, he can join the BIG-12. Or take his job from Mike Leach in the SEC when he gets fired in a year or two.