The Ralphie Report sat down with the SBNation Oregon blog, Addicted To Quack (they also joined our podcast for the week) for a little Q&A session leading up to tomorrow's game.
What went wrong for the Oregon offense in the National Championship game against Auburn and the week 1 game against LSU and do you feel like Chip Kelly has made progress correcting those mistakes for the next time the Ducks see a team that talented (Stanford?)?
The biggest mistakes against LSU were just youth. The young offensive line got pushed around by a bigger LSU defensive line, and DeAnthony Thomas was a true frosh playing in his first game and fumbled the ball twice deep in his own territory. Despite giving up 40 points, the defense actually played pretty well (LSU only drove the field once, the rest of their drives started in Oregon territory). I think experience has corrected a lot of those mistakes, and I think Oregon is more talented top to bottom than Stanford.
Our former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is now at Oregon. How involved is he in the offensive play calling and how favorably is he looked upon by the Oregon fanbase. (Yes, we are trying to reconcile who the good coaches and the bad coaches are from the Dan Hawkins era).
I have no idea how good Helfrich is. He doesn't call the plays (Chip Kelly does that). But word is he does a lot in game week preparation, and is a pretty good recruiter. The coaches and the media both have very good things to say about him. Its hard to judge when you can't as a fan see him do his job, but he is highly praised.
This game looks like a gimme for Oregon. Should Chip Kelly play LaMichael James and Darron Thomas this week or let them recover fully? Seems like with key Colorado players out, this is a time to take it easy. Do you think they will see the field on Saturday?
LMJ will dress, but he's not playing. Not a chance. Darron Thomas says he's starting, and that he was never medically told to sit out. Hopefully, Oregon will be up enough that he doesn't have to play more than a half.
If Oregon is going to win the Pac-12 North and go to the Pac-12 championship game, what are a few of the areas they will need to improve at to beat Stanford?
Oregon's defensive line will have to be more consistent. The secondary has been very good, but Oregon has really struggled to stop the run at times this season. If they cannot stop the run against Stanford's power run game, we could see a repeat of 2009, where Stanford became the only team to beat Chip Kelly in a shootout.
How do you see this game playing out?
Not trying to be cocky, but Oregon is the best team in the conference. Colorado is bad, and all their best players are out. Oregon should win big.
Does there seem to be a large contingent of Ducks fans making their way to Boulder this weekend?
I would expect so. Oregon always travels well, and a lot of fans have chosen to make this trip as it is a new roadtrip in the conference and Boulder has a reputation as a great town. Expect to see a lot of Oregon fans starting Friday.
Final score prediction?