With the game of the weekend being played in primetime the Ducks will travel to Palo Alto to take on the undefeated Cardinals. The Ducks will need their defense to come up big if they hope to upset the undefeated Cardinals. Plenty of prospects to watch in Andrew Luck, LaMichael James, Kenjon Balmer, and many more.
QB Darron Thomas 6’3, 212 lbs.*
Despite being a bigger and more accomplished pocket passer than his predecessor Darron Thomas has already started to draw comparison to former Oregon Duck Dennis Dixon. While Dixon is a favorite with fans of teams who are looking for a new starter he has yet to distinguish himself when given the chance. Which is where the comparison becomes unfair, Thomas is a talented QB in his own right with ideal size, a plus arm, and improving accuracy. The issue with Thomas is that his offense is set up to be a catch and run style offense that isn’t very effective in the NFL. He isn’t asked to make many reads and while his abilities are improving he’s clearly behind the curve in this regard.
RB LaMichael James 5’9, 195 lbs.*
One of the hottest names last season James saw people cool on him when he was effectively shut down by LSU and held to under 70 yards by Nevada. Over the next three games James would rush for 731 yards and 6 TD’s and re-cement himself into the limelight. When you project forward for James you can’t help but drool over his speed and field vision. We wish he was an inch or two taller and was 10-15 pounds heavier. At worst James is a 3rd down back who can catch the ball, at best he becomes a team’s #1. One thing is for sure when you have his speed everybody takes notice.
RB Kenjon Barner 5’11, 180 lbs.*
This is going to shock some people so we are going to warn you in advance but we think Barner may actually end up being the better NFL back. We haven’t see a ton of Oregon this season but Barner has just as much, if not more, speed as James and is even more dangerous in the open field with his moves to make you miss. He has the same field vision as James along with the same versatility. We’ve heard rumblings that Barner ran a sub 4.4 at Oregon but nothing confirmed. The reason we like Barner more is because with his added frame we think he can add that 20-25 pounds he’ll need to take the NFL pounding.
WR Lavasier Tunei 6’5, 206 lbs.
An absolute massive WR who presents big time matchup issues for Stanford. Tunei has really stepped up this year hauling in seven TD catches on just 28 receptions. Like many taller WR’s he’s not a burner down the field but his height gives him the advantage on deeper routes over most DB’s. He’s also a dangerous red zone weapon because of his ability to high point the ball. If Oregon can establish Barner and James running the ball than look for Oregon to work Tunei in over the middle and in the red-zone to keep Stanford from trying to load the box.
TE David Paulsen 6’4, 241 lbs.
The big TE for Oregon will need to have a big game both blocking and catching. He’ll likely be asked to chip Chase Thomas some when lined up to his side in an effort to keep Stanford’s pass rush threat minimized. He’s also going to need to expose Stanford’s Mike LB’s with his ability to get open in the intermediate zone between the LB and S. With Oregon’s ability to use its younger and blazing fast WR’s to take the top off the coverage there should plenty of room for Paulsen to be dangerous.
OT Mark Asper 6’7, 322 lbs.
Asper is a mountain of a man at OT, he has very long arms and uses them well to engage his defender when he locks on. He’s not the most athletic OT and at times struggles with speed rushers trying to catch them with his long arms more than get in front of them with his footwork. Like many taller tackles he is not a natural knee bender and can get himself over extended by bending at his waist. We think a matchup with Chase Thomas could spell trouble for Asper which is why we think Paulsen will give him some help by chipping Thomas.
OG Carson York 6’5, 286 lbs.*
York is an athletic OG who is very good at pulling and getting to the 2nd level. A big part of the reason that Oregon has the fifth best rushing offense in the nation (298.44 ypg) and averages 6.99 yards per carry. York is a slightly undersized due to the athletic style of play Oregon’s offense calls for so against a Stanford’s DL that average 275 pounds across the line he could have issues when asked to block inline. York will need to show that he has enough strength when inline to help take of these 34 DL as well show the proper technique and footwork.
DE Terrell Turner 6’3, 261 lbs.
It was hoped before the season that this was going to be the year that Terrell Turner finally turned the light switch on and went from a prospect who simply had outstanding size and athleticism to a player who put it all together on the field. So far the results have been good but not great. Turner’s 30 tackles from his DE spot have been very good but he’s not getting the rush off the ball that many scouts and Oregon coaches hoped to see. His five tackles for loss and two and a half sacks aren’t even tops among defensive lineman on his team and he has yet to develop any kind of counter move for his pass rush. Turner will get long looks because of his size and athletic ability but so far he hasn’t put it together.
DE Dion Jordan 6’7, 240 lbs.*
Another DE that Oregon desperately needed to come through this season was the junior Dion Jordan and come through he has. Though he started the season a little slow he has been a demon over the past six games making 26 tackles, eight for loss, and adding four sacks. Jordan is an athletic freak off the edge combining monster size with blazing speed and he’s still filling out. A possible 34 LB convert at the next level Jordan’s get off will be a challenge for Stanford OT Jonathan Martin all night long.
LB Josh Kaddu 6’3, 235 lbs.
Kaddu’s pass rush ability has definitely been on display this season as he leads Oregon with six sacks. He is effective both blitzing from the inside and shooting off the inside shoulder of the DE who is trying to speed rush up the field. He is a sound tackler when he wraps up but he can get caught lunging at players instead of taking proper technique. He has an ideal frame for the next level that will allow him to put on a little weight and fill out. He may be one of the most intriguing prospects at this game that scouts will watch but nobody will talk about.
QB Andrew Luck 6’4, 235 lbs.*
What more can be said about Andrew Luck at this point? You’ve read it all before the talk about his accuracy, his maturity, his arm strength, his…well you name it and he can do it, and do it well. Luck is the most dynamic QB prospect we have seen since Peyton Manning. He will without a doubt be the number one pick this year if he declares, and there is a high likelihood that he will be that teams day one starter. All the talking about Luck is done, now it’s just time to sit back and enjoy watching him put on a show.
RB Stepfan Taylor 5’11, 210 lbs.*
Whenever you play with a player the caliber of Andrew Luck everything you do will get minimized. So despite Taylor having over 1,000 yards last season and nearly 900 so far this season nobody talks about him. He’s a strong and balanced runner who has a low center gravity and can run through arm tackles. He’s not the kind of back who is going to break runs outside and rip off huge chunks of yards but he will wear you down over the course of a game and then burst through the defense for a long run late.
TE Coby Fleener 6’6, 244 lbs.
It speaks volumes of how good Andrew Luck is when I tell you that his TE Coby Fleener is his best receiving option. For the most part Luck is the guy who makes those guys look good but with Fleener he doesn’t have to. Fleener is a very similar TE in style to Todd Heap, and by that we mean he is a good blocker inline, he has the athleticism to cause match-up issues, and he has fantastic hands. He is exceptionally dangerous in the red zone and already has eight touchdown receptions on the year.
OT Jonathan Martin 6’6, 297 lbs.*
As far as scouts go you won’t see a top end prospect more hotly contested than with Jonathan Martin. He’s the Stanford LT, but some see him as a RT and yet other see him as a OG. As for us we think he’s a LT, he’s not the elite athlete some are but he’s long in his frame, has ideal arm length, and he has very good footwork. We think his potential may be among the highest of any OT in the 2013 class.
OG David DeCastro 6’5, 307 lbs.*
While many scouts may have differing opinion on Martin, not many disagree on DeCastro. He’s considered to be one of the top OG’s in all of college football right now. He is very strong at the POA and absolutely mauls opponents. DeCastro also displays very good fundamentals, he plays with good leverage, has solid footwork, and finishes his blocks. DeCastro is a Day 1 starting caliber prospect who could potentially be the #1 OG off the board should he leave school early.
LB Chase Thomas 6’4, 240 lbs.*
Thomas will be called on to try and get some pressure on Darron Thomas off the edge this weekend. With Shayne Skov injured the pass rush duties fall almost solely on the shoulders of Chase Thomas. Thomas who has 6.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL this season has been effective but he is not quite the elite rusher other prospects are. He will need to work hard to get around the mammoth Mark Asper but he should be able to take advantage of Asper’s struggles with speed rushers.
S Delano Howell 5’11, 189 lbs.
Howell who has missed the last three games with a hand injury is expected to return for this game and they will absolutely need him to be at his best. Howell is a rangy S who can really play the CF spot. He does a good job reading the QB’s eyes and isn’t afraid to make a break on the football. He excels at under cutting slower developing deep routes and has the closing speed to bate QB’s into making ill advised throws. Howell is a solid tackler on the back line and the health of his hand will surely be tested by LMJ and Barner.