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BYU gave the Cavaliers a preview of a hurry-up style offense last week, and Virginia came out ahead.
Brigham Young running back Jamaal Williams (21) fumbles then recovers the ball next to Virginia safety Anthony Harris (8) and Virginia linebacker Daquan Romero (13) on Saturday in Charlottesville. Virginia defeated Brigham Young 19-16.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Virginia knows to expect a fashion show when No. 2-ranked Oregon takes the field Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. football game at Scott Stadium.
What the Ducks will be wearing is the least of the Cavaliers' concerns.
Known for their space-age, Nike-sponsored ensembles, the Ducks have a high-powered offense to match.
"No matter what your uniform is, Nike or Russell, it's not going to help you play better," UVa senior Morgan Moses said earlier this week. "We know they've got hundreds of helmets and we might have two helmets, but it's still going to protect your head."
Oregon enters the game with a 15-game winning streak in road games not played at neutral sites and was a 24 ½-point favorite at mid-afternoon Friday.
UVa has never won a game against an opponent favored by more than 20 points. The Cavaliers' biggest upset, based solely on the betting line, was a 33-28 victory over 18 ½-point favorite Florida State in 1995 at Scott Stadium.
The Seminoles, ranked No. 3 in the country at the time, were the highest-rated team Virginia has beaten.
Oregon has posted 18 winning seasons in the past 19 seasons under head coaches Mike Bellotti (1995-2008) and Chip Kelly (2009-2012).
As recently as 2010, the Ducks played in the BCS Championship Game, where they fell to Auburn 22-19 on a tie-breaking field goal at the buzzer.
Oregon won 46 games in four years under Kelly, a former Bellotti offensive coordinator who went to the NFL after the season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
He was succeeded by 39-year-old Mark Helfrich, who was Kelly's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past four seasons. He retained seven of Kelly's assistants, including former receivers coach Scott Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback who is the new offensive coordinator.
That's in contrast to Virginia, where fourth-year head coach Mike London has five new full-time assistants.
One of them, defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, has been entrusted with coming up with a plan to derail the Ducks.
Oregon employs a hurry-up offense that's similar to what the Cavaliers faced last week in a 19-16 victory over Brigham Young.
"Obviously, our guys did a great job," Tenuta said. "Any time you have eight three-and-outs and 13 punts [on offense] and you hold a team to 16 points, you've done a damned good job.
"The speed of the game's going to be a lot faster. Everybody now, they're fast. You have to be pretty sharp in when and where you can sub, but everybody tries not to let you sub at all. When you're sucking air, you're sucking air."
Preparations for Oregon didn't start with the final snap of the BYU game.
"I try to break down everybody I can possibly break down [during the offseason] and that goes back to the winter time," Tenuta said, "and now you can look at their spring game, you can look at last year's game and you can look at their first game.
"For us, as coaches, we had all our cylinders where we needed to have them, all our files where we needed to have them. It's a lot easier to pick it up on Sunday. We had everything in order as far as what we needed to do, but then there's the pace aspect of it."
Oregon opened the season with a 66-3 victory over visiting Nicholls State on a day when five-star recruit Thomas Tyner, a running back, could not play due to injury. He should be available today, but the Ducks had three 100-yard rushers in the opener, including 5-9, 176-pound all-purpose threat De'Anthony Thomas and quarterback Marcus Mariota. As a team, the Ducks rushed for 502 yards.
Opponents are well-advised not to get in a gunfight with Oregon, whose lone loss last year was to Stanford in overtime, 17-14.
Still, a repeat of Virginia's 223-yard offensive effort against BYU probably won't get the job done.
"Offensively, we wanted to do more and we should have done more, and I take that on myself," said first-year starting quarterback David Watford, a sophomore who went 18 for 32 for 114 yards and a touchdown. "I've got to demand more of my guys and be more demanding of myself."
Prior to the opening game, UVa head coach Mike London said the Cavaliers could make a statement against BYU. That game basically was a toss-up. Today, Virginia will be a prohibitive underdog, mystique or no mystique.
"You can't ooh and ah; you can't be a fan of whatever team you're playing," UVa linebacker Henry Coley said. "The uniform never helped anybody win a game."
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