Oregon Defensive Preview

USC hopes to flex its offensive power against Oregon.  In the most likely scenario, USC’s best shot is an offensive shootout against Oregon.  This may just be a game where whomever has the ball last will win the ball game.

This post will look at the defensive side of the ball for Oregon.  First we will look at the yardage and points allowed per quarter.  Then we will look at conversion rates allowed by this defense.  Finally we will look at turnovers and field position.

Yards and Points per Quarter

Let us first look at the yards allowed per quarter.

In terms of yardage, there isn’t much to talk about.  Oregon’s worst quarter yardage wise is the 1st quarter.  Their best quarter is the 2nd.  However, it stays fairly consistent throughout each quarter.  But now let us look at the points allowed per quarter.

From a scoring perspective, Oregon’s defense improves over time.  They have only allowed a single touchdown in the 4th quarter all season long.  This touchdown was to UCLA in the final 1:53 of the game.  Oregon has also shut out four of their seven opponents in the second half.  USC will either have to score early and often to create a gap which they will have to hold during the 2nd half or they must find a way to score throughout the game against Oregon.

Conversion Rates

Lets take a look at the conversion percentage of Oregon’s opponents.

Oregon holds their opponents to a 38% conversion rate on 3rd downs.  This is a drastic difference from Oregon’s high powered offense which converts downs almost at will.  Now lets look at the average distance to go per down and the average gain.

Oregon holds their opponents to an average gain of 4.9 yards per play overall.  They also keep their opponent’s average distance to go very high.  Even 3rd down is over 8 yards to go on average for their opponents.  One of the reasons for this is because of the high number of negative yardage plays that Oregon forces.  27% of opponent’s run plays (nearly 1 in 3 runs) are stopped for no gain or negative yards.

Turnovers and Field Position

Oregon leads the nation with 25 takeaways in seven games.  This turns to 3.6 turnovers forced per game.  Oregon’s high powered offense takes advantage of this by scoring 17.86 points off turnovers per game.  This turns to an expected value of about 5 points per turnover for the Oregon team.  Conversely, Oregon has turned the ball over 13 times this season (1.86 turnovers per game).  Yet their defense has allowed only 2.43 points off turnovers per game.  This is an expected value of about 1.31 points per turnover.

These turnovers greatly affect field position.  Oregon’s high number of takeaways has lead to an average starting position on the Oregon 40 yard line.  Oregon has also taken 51% of its offensive snaps on the opponent’s side of the field.  Let’s compare this to their opponents.  Oregon’s opponents have an average starting position on their own 34 yard line.  This is a mix between Oregon scoring rather than punting and also turnovers.  Because of this, only 31% of their opponent’s offensive plays have been on Oregon’s side of the field.

Conclusions

Oregon’s defense isn’t the strongest, but it will be a test for USC’s offense if only because the pressure to score on every single drive.  I have full confidence in our offense’s ability to put up points and keep score for score with Oregon.  However, every play will matter in this game.  A turnover could spell disaster for whichever offense commits it.  A negative yardage play or a penalty which results in a stalled drive could decide victory.  Lets see if USC can come home with another victory.

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