Marcus Arroyo must get creative for the offense to fly high again

CJ Verdell must get back on track to make life easier on Oregon's passing game


-- CJ Verdell, RB: He must show up in a big way if Oregon wants any chance of ending its two-game skid. With quarterback Justin Herbert and wide receiver Dillon Mitchell potentially out for Saturday’s contest with UCLA, Verdell is the best remaining weapon the Ducks have on offense, a unit that has been subpar the past two weeks. Verdell leads the team in rushing with 600 yards on 115 carries and four touchdowns. A big game by Verdell allows for whoever is playing quarterback to settle and keep defenses from sitting back in coverage.

-- Jalen Jelks, DE: Jelks has been largely underwhelming in his senior season from a statistical point of view. After a breakout junior year where he finished with 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and seven passes defended, Jelks has totals of five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and one pass defended through more than halfway this year. Although he does see double-teams a lot, or teams go away from him, Oregon needs him as a senior leader to be the one to step his game up and help the Ducks out of their funk.

-- Johnny Johnson III, WR: The sophomore receiver will play a big role against the Bruins if Mitchell is a scratch with the concussion. Johnson, who has two catches for 17 yards in the last four games, has had a case of “butterfingers” over the season but he flashes major potential of being a deep threat and possession receiver, as evidence by his four touchdowns on the year. Mitchell is nearly 1/3 of Oregon’s receiving offense but with him potentially out, Johnson must fill those shoes.

-- Marcus Arroyo, OC: Oregon's offensive coordinator is now under a microscope after the questionable play-calling he’s chosen the past two weeks. The offense has been largely anemic, becoming very predictable with no excitement or flair the Ducks had when they were winning. Now with Herbert potentially out with a concussion, Arroyo must become even more creative with freshman Tyler Shough or sophomore Braxton Burmeister taking the reins. Arroyo is potentially coaching for his job because with all the talent on offense, Oregon should average more than 17.5 points per game over a two-game span.

Series History: 39-28 UCLA. The Bruins won last year’s matchup 31-14, a game in which Herbert was out injured and Burmeister was the starting quarterback. He finished the game 8-of-15 for 74 yards with an interception and two rushing touchdowns while running back Royce Freeman ran for 160 yards on 29 carries. Prior to that loss, Oregon was on a six-game winning streak from 2008-14, including a 60-13 win in 2010.

Quote to Note: “Take accountability and responsibility, everyone in the organization. Zero pointing fingers, just get at it but get at it responsibility and intelligently,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said about how the Ducks respond from their two-game losing skid. “It's not just blind work… it's not just go grind. Certain things have to improve, and those things have been assessed, they have been addressed and practice is structured to be able to improve at those particular areas.

Roster Report

-- QB Justin Herbert is in Oregon’s concussion protocol and his status for this weekend is unknown

-- WR Dillon Mitchell, much like Herbert, is also in Oregon’s concussion protocol with an unknown status for Saturday’s game against UCLA

-- TE Kano Dillon is still not up to full speed but the Ducks are hoping to get him back Wednesday in time for this weekend

-- DL Austin Failou and LB Kaulana Apelu are both practicing this week and are expected full-go’s this weekend

-- OG Dallas Warmack injured his shoulder last week against Arizona but after testing came up negative, there’s a strong likelihood he’ll play against UCLA

-- Former head coach Chip Kelly makes his return to Oregon after leading the Ducks to a 46-7 record from 2009-12

-- Oregon has won five consecutive home games against UCLA, averaging 42.4 points per game in the process

-- OT Calvin Throckmorton hasn’t allowed a sack in his last 1,943 snaps, a streak that spans the previous 26 games

-- Herbert has recorded a touchdown pass in 23 straight games, currently the longest streak in college football