This is not the offense college football fans have come to expect from the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
Oregon and the Arizona Wildcats both possess Top 10 offenses entering Thursday night’s game. Yet the score at halftime is 7-3. Neither team is close to halfway to their normal average yards per game through two quarters.
The Ducks continue to suffer from slow starts.
Oregon averaged 555.3 yards per game through the first four games. Mark Helfrich‘s squad only managed 210 yards against a maligned Wildcats defense.
It starts up front.
The offensive line isn’t playing to its usual standard due to injuries. The running game, in particular, suffers due to the Ducks’ inability to get movement in the running game. Oregon eked out 82 yards on the ground through two quarters. The entire offensive scheme is built around its ability to dictate tempo and control the game with an explosive running attack. Instead, the Ducks are stuck in neutral.
Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota continues to suffer due to these offensive deficiencies. The junior is only 9-of-16 passing for 102 yards.
The first half’s only touchdown came due to trickery. Mariota bumbled and nearly fumbled his way into the end zone after a 26-yard throwback pass from running back Royce Freeman.
Arizona hasn’t fared much better.
The Wildcats normally average 593.8 yards per game. They gained a meager 172 yards so far.
Unlike Oregon, Arizona’s struggles originate from a lack of a passing attack. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon wasn’t able to get into rhythm and finished the first half 7-of-13 passing for 70 yards. Oregon’s secondary and linebackers are keeping everything in front of them and rallying to the football.
With these two offenses, it’s usually only a matter of time before they get back on track and start gaining yards in bunches. Oregon will have to rely on Mariota to shoulder the load, while Arizona would be wise to get their top play-maker, wide receiver Austin Hill, more involved in the game.