No one will confuse Oregon with Air Force, despite Duck Coach Mike Bellotti's tongue-in-cheek comment, "We're going to the wishbone this week -- put that in the paper," but Oregon does sprinkle in just enough option plays that it could temper UCLA's pass rush in today's game.
"It's not their mainstay, but they do it just enough to where you have to prepare for it," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "It can be tricky because we have a good defensive line that likes to pass rush and get to the quarterback, and now they have to play [run] responsibilities. That makes it harder on the line."
Defensive end Dave Ball, who leads the nation with 13 1/2 sacks, said Oregon's option could put a little hesitation into the Bruin defense.
"It does make you stop and think a little bit; we're not an option conference," he said. "I'm sure they'll do a lot of drop-pack passing too, with no option fakes. Hopefully it will be a little clear. [On the option], sometimes I'll take the pitch guy, sometimes I'll take the quarterback.... You have to sit down and shuffle on the line, make [the quarterback] hold the ball a little longer."
After Matt Moore struggled to move the offense in losses to Stanford and Washington State the last two weeks, Dorrell handed the starting quarterback job back to Drew Olson, who'd guided the Bruins to a 5-1 record while Moore recovered from a knee injury suffered in the season opener.
But if Olson struggles early today against Oregon, don't be surprised if Dorrell goes right back to Moore.
"There is a likelihood of that happening, but that shouldn't be [seen as] monumental," Dorrell said. "Keep in mind that both quarterbacks were similar to begin with -- it's not like one was an All-American and the other was a first-year player.
"Both are capable players, and the competition [between them] was so close all along that I can't rule out anything in terms of what we would do over the course of a game."
Bellotti was not surprised that Ball was named one of four finalists for the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top lineman.
"Dave Ball is one of the best players I've ever seen," Bellotti said. "He plays fast, but he also has balance and strength. We're trying to look for ways to negate his pass-rushing charge, and it's difficult because if you block him quickly he can jump over you and make you miss, and if you wait, he can bull-rush you. I am much more impressed with him than I'd like to be."