Michigan State plays host to Oregon this weekend in the marquee game of week two in college football, and Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio called the Ducks a program that is on the cutting edge.
What did he mean by that?
"I think that they're always looking to critique their program, number one," Dantonio said Tuesday during a press conference in East Lansing. "They have surrounded their program with great players. They have a great running back in (Royce) Freeman, additional running backs, they have great skill players. So they're taking the skill level in that program, a very high skill level, and then they're doing things that everybody else is doing and I think they may be the leader in doing those things."
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He's also seen the Ducks tweak familiar tactics to make them their own, including unique pass patterns that helped them create big plays against the Spartans last season when the teams played in Eugene and Oregon won 45-27.
"Obviously I've seen switch routes where they go like this," he said. "I've never seen a switch route where they go like that and then put my arms the other way and gone like that again. Okay, so I've never seen that. So that's just one aspect of it. It was in a two-minute situation, but you saw it, and it was unusual."
Then of course there is the Ducks' famous "blur" hurry-up offense that has been giving teams fits since Chip Kelly was head coach prior to moving on to the Philadelphia Eagles. Oregon hasn't lost a beat under Kelly's replacement, Mark Helfrich.
"There is the whole component of having to get lined up and play within 15 seconds or so or less," Dantonio said. "So there is that combination of things, and they have the different speeds just like everybody else, but I think it's helped that we've played there last year. I think it's helped us also that we've played teams like Baylor and Indiana and other teams that are fast tempo as well.
"So everybody's doing it in college football right now, so we should be used to that. But there is still that conditioning aspect of it and that aspect of being able to get lined up play with your knees bent, focused, change personnel, subs and things of that nature and it's a challenge."