NOTES/QUOTES/PLAYERS TO WATCH
-- Thomas Graham Jr., CB: Graham is going to have to play the best game of his young career if the Ducks are going to leave Washington State with a victory. The Cougars are going to throw the ball, and then throw it some more. Graham is the Ducks’ veteran cornerback as a sophomore, but he has struggled at times this year. This week, there is no room for error and the better he plays, the more likely Oregon will stay atop the Pac-12 North.
-- Jake Hanson, C: Hanson doesn’t get the recognition he so often deserves because of who he’s snapping the ball too. But to beat the Cougars, Hanson is going to have to continue his solid play because Washington State will give the leader of Oregon’s offensive line multiple looks to decipher. The Cougars like to stem a lot, so Hanson will have to distinguish the correct coverages and relay to his fellow linemen, a job that goes unseen but is extremely important to Oregon’s success.
-- Justin Hollins, OLB: Hollins will be vital for the Ducks this week because of his quickness and height. Washington State likes to get the ball out quick, often preventing the pass rush from making a difference. Hollins’ job is twofold; use his 6-foot-6 frame to knock down passes when he can’t get to Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew or use his speed and athleticism to get to Minshew when he takes extended drops. Making life uncomfortable for the quarterback will be a top priority for Hollins.
-- CJ Verdell. RB: Verdell has officially been named the starting running back after rushing for over 100 yards in each of his previous three games. The Cougars are solid in pass defense but have holes in their rush defense — holes that Verdell must expose. Having a good running game and getting that balance makes life easier for quarterback Justin Herbert and the play action pass, a vital part of Oregon’s offense.
Series History: 48-39-7 Oregon. Although the Ducks lead the overall series, the Cougars have been a nasty thorn in Oregon’s side recently. Washington State has won the past three meetings by an average score of 43-27. In those games, the Cougars have thrown at will against the Ducks, averaging 386 passing yards per game. Last year, Oregon led 10-7 after one quarter before Washington State scored the final 26 points in the dominating win.
**Quote to Note: “**Guys were sharp, understanding the importance of getting refocused and getting dialed in and locked in to Washington State and the kind of team that they are,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said of the Ducks refocusing after their massive win last weekend. “Obviously, they're a really good football team. Plan's been going well so far.”
-- OG Dallas Warmack is a full-go in practices after leaving Saturday’s game against Washington
-- LT Penei Sewell’s status is unknown for this weekend’s game as head coach Mario Cristobal says the Ducks are going to “wait and see” for the freshman.
-- QB Braxton Burmeister is now a full-go and will be challenging freshman Tyler Shough for the backup spot.
-- WR Darrian Felix is still out with a foot injury.
-- RB CJ Verdell was named the Pac-12 Offensive player of the week after scoring the game-winning touchdown against Washington. He finished the game with 29 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
-- Verdell has rushed for 100+ yards in three consecutive games.
-- RB Tony Brooks-James is fully healthy despite not getting carries in the previous two games.
-- Running backs coach Jim Mastro and defensive line coach Joe Salave’a both coached at Washington State before coming to Oregon.
-- WR Dillon Mitchell leads the nation in receiving yards in conference play, averaging 154.3 yards per game.
-- Mitchell also has three consecutive games of 100+ receiving yards.
-- Oregon leads the Pac-12 in scoring (43.8) and third-down conversion (51.7-percent).
-- It’s the first time since 1986 that the Ducks will face four consecutive top-25 opponents.
-- QB Justin Herbert has thrown a touchdown in 21 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in college football.