Eugene, OR – The fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks will play their third straight home game to open the season on Saturday afternoon, as they entertain FCS foe Tennessee Tech.
Tennessee Tech has been one of the FCS's most impressive teams in the early going. After hanging on to win, 41-31, against Hampton on opening night, the Golden Eagles made easy work of North Greenville last week, winning 42-14, lifting them to 2-0 for the first time since 1989. Not only is Oregon the only BCS school they will face this year, it is the only FBS program on their schedule.
The Ducks have posted comfortable wins in each of their first two games. After defeating Arkansas State in the opener, 57-34, they were able to hold off the pesky Fresno State Bulldogs last week, 42-25, to move to 2-0. For the second week in a row, Oregon got out to a big lead only to allow its opponent to get back in the game late, and head coach Chip Kelly knows that adjustments must be made.
"We need to become a great first, second, third, and fourth quarter team," Kelly said. "We can't start letting up once we get the lead. We have to keep our foot on the accelerator from beginning to end."
Tennessee Tech's offense has been explosive so far, putting up 41.5 ppg and 513 ypg, but head coach Watson Brown knows that this type of pace is nearly impossible to keep up, especially with a formidable opponent on tap.
"If we can average 40 points the rest of the reason, I'll be pretty pleased," Brown said. "But I'm pretty sure that's about to go down here real quick."
A big reason for the Golden Eagles' success this season has been the addition of receiver Da'Rick Rogers. Rogers was an All-SEC receiver for Tennessee last season, but after being dismissed from the team before the season opener, he transferred to Tennessee Tech, as moving to an FCS school would allow him to play this year. His big-play ability has already been felt, hauling in eight balls for 163 yards and two scores.
Rogers presence has only made quarterback Tre Lamb even more dangerous. The senior has completed 42-of-61 passes for 613 yards, tossing seven touchdowns against only one interception.
Adam Urbano has been leaned on in the early going as the team's primary back, making the most of his 39 rushes, gaining 280 yards while crossing the goal line three times.
The Tennessee Tech defense has also been very good, allowing 253 yards per game, including only 125 ypg through the air, but it's in for its biggest challenge of the season in facing Oregon.
Howard Griffin has registered 20 tackles and Willia Dillard and Cory Webber each have an interception. Although the unit has seven tackles for loss, it has yet to record a sack.
It's no secret that Oregon has one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, and it has proven that early on by scoring 99 points in two games, while averaging 568.5 total yards per outing.
Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has been nearly perfect this season, completing more than 75 percent of his passes (37-of-49) for 366 yards with four touchdowns against no interceptions. He is also a factor in the running game, netting 91 yards on the ground.
Kenjon Barner has thrived since taking over the feature back role from the departed LeMichael James, gaining 267 yards on 43 carries with five touchdowns -- most of that production coming on a huge day last week against Fresno State (201 yards, three TDs).
De'Anthony Thomas is arguably the Ducks' most dynamic playmaker. On just 18 touches this year (eight catches, 10 rushes), Thomas has already scored five touchdowns. He is averaging an incredible 16.6 yards per carry and also leads the team in receiving with 81 yards.
The Oregon defense has played well early in games, but once the offense has taken a big lead, the unit tends to ease off, which has resulted in 29.5 ppg and 447.5 ypg allowed.
Four different players have registered double-digit tackles, led by Brian Jackson and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu with 12 apiece. Dion Jordan, Taylor Hart and Boseko Lokombo each have a sack and John Boyett has an interception.