Oregon is a difficult team to pin down with analytics. Head coach Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense scores so many points that the starters hit the bench in the 2nd quarter. The rest of the game doesn’t reflect the performance of the first string players.
You know, the players that would be on the field in a big game against Alabama.
At The Power Rank, we adjust statistics like yards per play for strength of schedule. For Oregon, their numbers against USC matter more than those against Tennessee Tech.
However, using the box score does not accurately portray the performance of Oregon’s starters. We dug into the play logs to find the drives in which the starters played. First, we looked for when Kelly pulled starting quarterback Marcus Mariota after taking a huge lead. This usually corresponded to the time at which back ups started making tackles on defense. The remainder of the game was excluded when calculating statistics such as rush yards per attempt.
Oregon’s Rush Defense
With these filtered statistics, Oregon made small improvements in most categories. For example, their defense ranking, which comes from adjusting yards per play for strength of schedule, rose from 17th to 13th. However, one category jumped out: rush defense. The Ducks rose from 51st in the nation to 18th. Two games had the most effect on these results:
- Arkansas State rushed 6.11 yards per attempt (226 yards on 37 carries) for the game, but only 2.17 yards per attempt before Oregon took a 50-3 lead in the 2nd quarter.
- Tennessee Tech rushed for 3.56 yards per attempt (146 yards on 41 carries), but only 2.0 yards per attempt before Oregon took a 42-7 lead in the 3rd quarter.
While the 51st rush defense might have problems stopping Eddie Lacy and the Alabama rushing attack, the 18th ranked defense would most likely fare better.
On offense, Oregon went from the 11th to 6th after filtering the drives. The Ducks have the best rushing attack in the nation but only the 39th pass offense. To slow down Oregon’s offense, a defense must take away the run and make freshman quarterback Mariota throw the ball. On their remaining schedule, only Stanford (3rd) has an elite rush defense. However, the Ducks have had their way with Stanford the last two years.
From our premium product, here’s a look at how Oregon matches up with Stanford next weekend.
Full Disclosure on Oregon’s Play Logs
These were the last plays included in each game.
- Arkansas State. Oregon goes up 50-3 with 7:34 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
- Fresno State. Entire game, as Oregon didn’t pull away until late.
- Tennessee Tech. Oregon goes up 42-7 with 13:11 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
- Arizona. Entire game, as Mariota takes a snap late in 4th quarter, even though Oregon led 42-0.
- Washington State. Up 51-19, Oregon holds on 4th and 7 with 8:15 remaining in the 4th quarter.
- Washington. Oregon goes up 45-14 with 14:39 remaining in the 4th quarter.
- Arizona State. End of 1st half with Oregon up 43-7.
- Colorado. Oregon goes up 49-0 with 7:02 left in 2nd quarter.
- USC. Entire game.
If you’re a Ducks fan that closely follows these games, please let us know if this makes sense in the comments. Thanks for reading.