Last season when Stanford beat the No. 2 Ducks ( 17-14 ) in Autzen Stadium, you just knew that game would become the instant blue print for any future team that happens to be on Oregon’s schedule.
When fall camp began for the Virginia Cavaliers back in early August, you could most certainly anticipate the phone lines would be buzzing out of Charlottesville to anyone associated with Stanford football.
“I think in this profession you make those phone calls to people that might have been on the staffs that played against [Oregon] or people that know about their style,” said Virginia head coach Mike London earlier this week.
“You do a lot of film study. I’m quite sure that Jon ( Tenuta ) and the rest of the coaches have called several people, asked about techniques of how to defend certain things.”
The Cavaliers know they’re facing a significant challenge on Saturday, however when the 2013 season schedule included two up-tempo offenses to begin the season ( BYU and Oregon ), that gave defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta extra time to prepare and put together a game plan for each team.
Last week in Virginia’s 19-16 win over BYU, the Cav’s defense faced a total of 93 offensive plays.
Sure that’s fast, but compared to Oregon, that was like a stroll in Central Park.
“Their whole team is fast… even the guy that goes to get the tee after the kickoff is really fast,” said London.
“We expect that Oregon’s tempo will be much faster ( than BYU’s ), and the plays being run much quicker.”
Even former Duck Kyle Long, who has significant ties to Charlottesville, had words of wisdom regarding the match-up.
“Virginia better get some faster players” said Long.
It wasn’t a slap in the face of the Cavaliers mind you, it was simply an observation from an NFL first round draft pick ( Chicago Bears ) who played in the Ducks system.
Oregon will make its first ever appearance in Charlottesville on Saturday having never faced an ACC opponent on their home field.
The pressure of facing the No. 2 team in the country doesn’t seem to be a huge concern of certain Cavalier players though.
“They’re explosive and they’ve got good uniforms,” said Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses earlier this week.
“But at the end of the day, they put their pads on the same way we do.”
Even Cavalier middle linebacker Henry Coley suggested its just a matter of trying to contain the Ducks speed.
“It’s like facing Kevin Durant” Coley said.
“You know he’s going to go out and score 30 points every night, but are you going to let him get 45?”
In the Stanford game, the Cardinal controlled the line of scrimmage on both defense and offense.
Against the Oregon offense, who at the time was averaging 325 rushing yards per game, Stanford held the Ducks to 198. Stanford also limited the Ducks on 3rd down by allowing just 4 conversions in 17 attempts.
Stanford also kept Oregon’s key play makers off the field by sustaining long and measured offensive drives.
No doubt a blue print that’s worked and worked well for Stanford.
But can it work for a team like Virginia who last year had the propensity for offensive turnovers.
“We definitely can’t turn the ball over,” Cavalier wide receiver Darius Jennings said.
“Every time we have the ball we’re going to have to put points on the board. It would be great if we put 40 points on the board, but if we have 10 and they only have 9, I’m happy with the ‘W.’
Offensive tackle Morgan Moses knows his Cavaliers are a 22 point home underdog, however he also sees this game as an opportunity to shock the college football world.
“Everybody sleeps on you,” Moses said.
“Oregon’s a top five team, all-world to everybody, but they’re coming to Scott Stadium, a place they’ve never played. I’m sure our guys aren’t saying, ‘Oh, it’s Oregon … look at Oregon. We’re going to have to go out there and fight.