With Hawaii, Then Colorado, Coming To Eugene, Oregon Ducks Must Keep Focus On Themselves


Contributor, 750 The Game

Comedians have openers come out to warm up the crowd before they come out with their main act. On Oregon’s schedule, Portland State was the warm-up for Texas Tech last week, a game in which Oregon was sloppy but found a way to win. They had 14 penalties for 124 yards in the game, following a week in which they had just 2 penalties against the Vikings. 

Hawaii isn’t Portland State coming from an FBS conference in the Mountain West, but they’re not exactly USC or Washington. Or even…Colorado? Yeah, that should probably be said.

With all the hype surrounding the Buffs and Coach Prime having his team ranked inside the top 20 nationally, this could be a “look ahead” spot for the Ducks. Next week’s showdown at Autzen Stadium suddenly has a different feel and will be nationally televised because it will be a high-profile matchup.

But that comes next week. So what does Oregon need to do against Hawaii?

They’re a 37.5-point favorite at home. In my lifetime, the only upset that I can recall with a spread over 30 points is Stanford @ USC in 2007. The Trojans were favored by 41 against the Cardinal and some coach named Jim Harbaugh. I don’t know much about Hawaii head coach Timmy Chang other than he’s in his second season trying to build up a program that has struggled to sustain success. I have no doubts about Oregon winning the game.

The Ducks need to be focused on the areas that almost – and one could argue should have – lost them the game last Saturday in Lubbock. 

The penalty yards against Texas Tech mostly came along the offensive line and in the secondary. Pass interference penalties were a great boon to the Red Raiders offense. The opportunities to defend in passing situations should be plentiful this week. Hawaii QB Brayden Schager is averaging over 300 passing yards a game through 3 games so far in 2023 on over 40 attempts per game. 

Will the receivers be the same caliber as those rolled out by Texas Tech or what the Ducks will see in Pac-12 play? Probably not, though Pofele Ashlock has amassed 100+ yard efforts against each of the Rainbow Warriors’ 2 power 5 games this season (losses to Vanderbilt and Stanford). Playing a clean game against this offense won’t mean all the problems from last week have been solved, but if the same issues persist then concern should be warranted with Colorado looming next week.

Shedeur Sanders has thrown for over 900 yards in the first 2 weeks with no interceptions.

Oregon’s offensive line was excellent in pass protection last week, but the run game really struggled. I think that’s 70% on the offensive line and 30% on new offensive coordinator Will Stein. Hawaii is not a team that should be able to match Oregon in the trenches, and their run totals should surpass the 113 yards and 3.6 YPC they gained against Texas Tech. 

I’ll be watching a couple of individuals as well for the Ducks. We haven’t seen WR Kris Hutson yet in 2023, for reasons we aren’t quite sure about. I wonder if LB Jestin Jacobs can return from injury and get some work in while still being healthy for next week’s game against the Buffs – he hasn’t yet played in 2023 since transferring in from Iowa. The Ducks have more talent than the Rainbow Warriors, and if they clean up the defensive penalties and the offensive line then they should be able to get QB Ty Thompson some more live game reps.

Score prediction: Oregon 59, Hawaii 17

Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.