Skip to main content

5 Things To Watch: BYU

Sep 16, 2022

The Oregon football team will wrap up nonconference play for the 2022 regular season Saturday, when the Ducks host Brigham Young in Autzen Stadium at 12:30 p.m.

The 25th-ranked Ducks are 1-1 on the year, having followed up a season-opening loss in Georgia with a 70-14 win last week over Eastern Washington. The No. 12 Cougars are 2-0, including a double-overtime win last week over then-No. 9 Baylor.

Autzen Stadium is hosting a matchup of ranked teams for the first time since 2018, and Oregon is looking to extend a 20-game overall home win streak and a 29-game win streak against nonconference teams – both top-five in the nation entering this week. BYU beat ranked teams from both Utah and Arizona State just last season.

0 p.m. PT on FOX ….Some other storylines to watch when the games kicks off at 12:3

1. The Ducks ran into a buzz saw in week one, facing the defending national champions in their home state. They stabilized themselves last week with a commanding performance against an FCS foe.

This matchup could be the truest test yet of how Oregon stacks up against similar competition. The Ducks were victimized by mistakes against an elite opponent in Georgia, but they got right in week two. They want to keep that rolling this week.

"Everything works on paper when you draw it up, right?" head coach Dan Lanning said this week. "It's about going out there and executing it, and our guys executed at a high level on Saturday. We need that to carry over for the next game."

2. There wasn't too much to quibble with offensively against Eastern Washington, a game in which the Ducks set a program record with 40 first downs.

Picking up 10 yards hasn't been too much of a problem for the UO offense, particularly last week; through two games Oregon has 39 gains of 10 yards or more, tied for second-most in the Pac-12. But extend that out to 20 yards and the UO offense only has five such plays, second-fewest in the conference.

This week and beyond, Lanning would like to see more explosion plays. "I'd love to see some more of those plays that were 15 yards turned into 30-yard plays," he said.

3. Another area in which the Ducks don't yet stack up particularly well is quarterback sacks. The UO defense has generated just two through two games, tied for the fewest in the Pac-12.

That that comes with a caveat: Both Georgia and Eastern Washington got the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly. They didn't allow much time for the pass rush to get home and record sacks.

BYU will take some deep shots down the field, and when the Cougars do so the Ducks might have more chances to get to the quarterback. But regardless of how they're generated, Lanning wants to see Oregon take better advantage of opportunities in the pass rush.

"When the ball is put on the perimeter a little bit more, you're not going to get those opportunities," he said. "But what we can't do is miss sack opportunities when we have them. So, if we have a guy wrapped up and we don't finish on him, that's on us. There's a couple of those moments we've seen in the first two games."

4. Hopefully, Oregon's kickoff team gets plenty of work Saturday. That would mean the Ducks are consistently putting points on the board.

If and when the kickoff team does take the field, more consistency will be a goal. Eastern Washington's first touchdown last week was set up by a long return, and then there was a penalty at the end of the play that advanced the ball even farther into UO territory.

The kickoffs themselves could be more consistent as well, whether they're handled by Andrew Boyle – who handled them against Georgia – or last week's kickoff specialist, Camden Lewis. "We need cleaner kick locations," Lanning said. "Obviously touchbacks are always great, but when you don't put the ball where you plan on it going, then you have a coverage unit kind of set to go a certain direction and that ball doesn't end up there. Then you don't keep your lanes the way you're supposed to, and big returns can happen."

5. An early afternoon kickoff, the weather report is mild, students are returning to campus with the start of the fall quarter looming … everything is set up for a classic fall setting in Autzen Stadium.

Prognosticators seem split on which team has the edge Saturday. That's the sort of matchup in which home-field advantage can be decisive. The Ducks certainly hope that ends up being the case.

"This is going to be a big game where they can make an impact," Lanning said. "I was really pleased with the crowd this past Saturday. I know that they're even going to be cranked up louder, more intense this next week. I think this is the kind of game that the Autzen crowd can make a big, big impact in the game."