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Who Are These Guys?
AUSTIN MURPHY
November 02, 2009
Embarrassment in Boise and an injury-riddled secondary served only to motivate the no-name Oregon Ducks, who sit atop the Pac-10 as USC comes calling
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November 02, 2009

Who Are These Guys?

Embarrassment in Boise and an injury-riddled secondary served only to motivate the no-name Oregon Ducks, who sit atop the Pac-10 as USC comes calling

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USC need not fear the two-headed monster, which is not to say this Ducks offense won't pose serious problems for Pete Carroll's defense. Playing for the first time since Oct. 3, when he injured his right knee against Washington State, Masoli seemed to gain confidence in his ability to run the ball as the game against Washington wore on. The more of a rushing threat he became, the more space opened up for his receivers and for James, whose 56-yard touchdown burst early in the fourth quarter put the Ducks up 43--12.

Masoli completed 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown; he rushed for 54 yards and another two scores. If healthy for the USC game—he described himself as 70% to 75% on Saturday—he will be leading an attack similar to the one that confounded the Trojans in Autzen Stadium two years ago. Oregon won that game 24--17.

It will not have escaped the Ducks' attention that Oregon State, despite losing to the Trojans 42--36 last Saturday night, outgained USC 482 yards to 429. For long stretches Carroll's defense had no answer for Beavers quarterback Sean Canfield, who completed 30 of 43 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. On a bad left ankle Beavers sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 113 yards.

Aliotti's defense won't be daunted by highlights of Trojans tailback Allen Bradford gashing the Beavers for 147 yards on 15 carries. The Ducks go up against a rugged scout-team running back four days a week. They've also bought into the philosophy of a coach who says, with a straight face, "All I ask is that you practice better than anybody, ever."

Even the Ducks who have the most reason for concern... aren't concerned. Cliff Harris is a true freshman cornerback who, due to Oregon's plague of injuries, finds himself on the field at critical times. On Saturday this 160-pounder had an interception, broke up two other passes and had five tackles. Nervous? No, he wasn't nervous. "Nervous is how you feel when you don't know what you're doing," Harris says. "At least, that's how I see it."

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