Ducks face improved Husky defense

Ducks face improved Husky defense »Play Video
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota sees daylight and squeezes into the end zone with his foot barely in, scoring on a 13-yard run to give the Ducks a 13-3 lead over Washington State Saturday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. (AP Photo/Dean Rutz, Seattle Times)

EUGENE, OR - In the three games in which Oregon has faced former Duck Justin Wilcox as a defensive coordinator (twice versus Boise State and once versus Tennessee), the Ducks have won just one of the three contests. That was the 2010 game in Knoxville.

Oregon will face Wilcox again this Saturday when the Huskies come to Autzen Stadium. Wilcox took over for Nick Holt as defensive coordinator earlier this year.

The Duck's high-powered offense, which ranks seventh nationally, will get tested against an improved Husky defense.

"Justin's changed the scheme from what they've been running before when Nick (Holt) was there," said Chip Kelly. "It looks like the players have a better understanding."

The Washington defense limited Stanford to just 65 yards rushing last Thursday in defeating the Cardinal.

"If they end up trying to stop the run and force me to throw, then I'll throw," said red-shirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota. "It really just comes down to execution as an offense. We should be okay."

The Ducks say they don't want the Husky defense to dictate the way the game is played this Saturday.

"As an offense you always want to dictate the game," said senior tailback Kenjon Barner. "You never want the defense to dictate what you want to do. You want to always control the game."

Being balanced offensively also helps against a defense which may try to take away the run.

"Some defenses say 'hey, we're going to make you throw the ball.'" said Kelly. "Then we'll throw it. I think (being balanced) helps us because if you don't have the ability to go another way and the defense takes something away from you, then you're in for a long night."

The Ducks have won eight straight against the Huskies. That is the longest win streak in the history of the rivalry by either side. Kick off Saturday is scheduled for 7:36 p.m.