Michigan State vs Oregon: Keys to victory from opposing view


Heading into week two action, the Michigan State vs Oregon game will be the most heavily viewed and talked about battle of the weekend. Which team will come out on top and will home-field advantage really prove to be key?

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Each week, we will try to catch up with the editor of the opposing team’s fan site on FanSided to see what he has to say about the matchup — given that the opposing team has a site.

This week, we had a chance to catch up with Autzen Zoo‘s Justin Phillips and he answered five questions that we had to ask about the upcoming primetime game between the Spartans and his Ducks.

1) What should Michigan State be worried about most when going up against Vernon Adams?

We have seen Adams and what he can do in his time at Eastern Washington. He showed some of what he can do in the win over Eastern Washington last week, telling the media after that he played a little conservative.

Sep 5, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) throws the ball before the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

I expect that to not be the case this week. His arm is one of the best I’ve seen at Oregon. The ball comes out with a flourish that no other quarterback on the roster can duplicate. His legs, I believe, are his most lethal weapon, and he showed that a little against EWU.

What you have to keep in mind is this guy came in and in just two weeks took the starting job away from a guy who has been waiting in the wings for three years behind Marcus Mariota. Jeff Lockie is the more experienced, maybe even the more seasoned when it comes to knowing the system, yet the transfer senior earned the nod to start the season.

2) What is the biggest weakness, or weaknesses, on the defensive side of the ball for Oregon?

It was clear that the backside of the defense was the issue for Oregon entering the game with Eastern Washington and boy did they get burned. Eastern Washington wide receiever Cooper Kupp took the Ducks ‘D’ to the woodshed for 246 receiving yards and had Oregon not kept up on offense, it could have been a factor in deciding the outcome of the game.

The front seven for the Oregon Ducks were solid, limiting the Eagles to just over 100 yards on the ground, giving up most of those yards in the fourth quarter.

3) Which players on offense should MSU be worried about other than Adams or Freeman?

Oregon put on an offensive 731-yard showcase of its talent last week. Aside from Adams and Freeman, I was quite impressed that the two backup running backs, Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James, were not only on the field, but also scampered for touchdowns of their own on a day that saw an impressive 180-yard, three-touchdown day from starter Royce Freeman.

The depth at Running Back for Oregon is scary-good. If Tyler Johnstone can make some holes to run through that could be the difference in the game.

Must Read: MSU Recruiting: Who’ll be in town for the Oregon game?

Through the air, look for Dwayne Stanford to be the main outlet for quarterback Vernon Adams. Another name to look for is Charles Nelson, who said earlier this week he will play against the Spartans. Nelson showed he can be a two-way player in the Ducks’ spring game in May, but should be a big weapon on offense this week.

4. What is the difference between last year’s Oregon team and this year’s (besides Mariota)?

Anytime you lose your starting quarterback it is going to change the dynamic of your team.

However, Adams’ ability allows Oregon to simply tweak things and not do a complete change of philosophy. He’s a dual-threat with his arm and his legs. For the most part, the other pieces are the same.

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive lineman DeForest Buckner (44) in game action against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Ohio State won 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon also has another piece at wide receiver with the return of Bralon Addison, who missed last year with a knee injury. The defense will be led by DeForest Buckner up front. Rodney Hardrick leads the cornerback group who needs to play tall against Michigan State.

5) What are the biggest concerns for the Ducks heading into Saturday?

One area that Oregon will not have a problem is tempo. The issue will fall to Michigan State to match the Ducks on the field. The biggest concern is the defensive backfield. If the Ducks can step up and get some turnovers early, it would be to their benefit.

It was announced on Friday that Oregon will stay on West Coast time for the game in East Lansing, meaning the kickoff will be at the same time as their first game of the year against Eastern Washington.

It’s a cliché, but this game will likely come down to who wins in the trenches, who gets the best push of the line could have the advantage. Connor Cook is clearly the more experienced quarterback in this game. If he can limit mistakes, the Spartans will come out on top.

For the loser of this game, the season is not over. Actually far from it. There is plenty of season left to get back into the race for the College Football Playoff.

We’d like to thank Justin for his time and wish the Ducks good luck for Saturday.

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