Sports

Oregon is confident it can play physical against Florida State

Florida State has an edge in size across the line

Every time East Coast meets West Coast in college football, a familiar stereotype pops up.

So it's no surprise the 2015 Rose Bowl has been labeled by some as a matchup between Florida State's strength versus Oregon's finesse. Or, in less polite terms, tough versus soft.

"I mean, yeah, that's that outlook on it," Florida State defensive lineman Eddie Goldman said.

The Seminoles certainly have the edge in size, weighing about 16 pounds more per man across the lines. But Goldman and his teammates insist that game film shows plenty of physicality from Oregon this season. They talk about offensive and defensive lines that move well laterally and hit hard.

The Ducks might also have a collective chip on their shoulders.

"I don't know where y'all are getting your facts from," Oregon wide receiver Byron Marshall said when asked about his team's reputation. "When we go out there, we dominate teams at the line of scrimmage in the pass game and the run game on defense."

Though it can be tricky comparing statistics across conferences, Oregon has rushed for 102 yards more per game than Florida State and has surrendered six fewer yards on the ground.

In terms of total defense, the Seminoles have an edge by 25 yards a game. Which means the Ducks might have something to prove Thursday afternoon.

"You want to downplay our game, feel free," Oregon offensive tackle Jake Fisher said. "We'll guarantee you that we'll play hard."

Trophy touring

The banquet circuit, without question, took its toll on Marcus Mariota. He spent much of December picking up awards all over the country.

By the end, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said, "I think he was just fed up with it."

Frost said there was one recent day in Eugene that Mariota refused to do interviews.

"I love him for it," Frost joked.

Frost played quarterback for Coach Tom Osborne at Nebraska. Osborne was legendary for many reasons — one of which was protecting players from the media.

"I'm glad we have a guy who doesn't crave those things and that kind of attention," Frost said of Mariota.

Frost said Mariota told him Monday: "I'm ready to play."

The good news for Oregon fans is that Mariota didn't gain weight eating a lot of banquet desserts.

Mariota said he was surprised this week when he weighed in at 215 pounds, four pounds lighter than usual.

"I think a lot of it might have been water weight," he said. "You travel, you get dehydrated. So I think it was four pounds of water weight and I just lost it over travel."

Down, not out

It might not seem like a huge statistic, but Oregon ranks among the top fourth-down offenses in the nation, converting on 16 of 24 attempts this season.

That means the Ducks have, on average, extended one drive per game, which equates to more scoring opportunities and more pressure on the Florida State defense.

"When you have to defend a four-down team, it just means that you have to make plays," Seminoles linebacker Terrance Smith said. "You've got to make that extra play."

Strong safety Tyler Hunter figures that prevention is the best cure.

"I believe the biggest challenge is winning first and second down and just getting them in third and long," he said. "I just take it as an opportunity."

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