Breaking down the shootout in Eugene

Originally Published: September 27, 2007
ESPN The Magazine
Editor's note: Each week, analysts from ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine will tackle a game plan for one of the biggest games on the schedule.

Cal's undefeated. Oregon's undefeated. Both are ranked. And they play this weekend. We asked former coaches Bill Curry and Mike Gottfried to draw up competing gameplans, then we had Jim Donnan pick a winner. On paper, anyway.

Curry takes over Cal
Bottom line for my guys: we have the better team. And they need to hear that and believe they can go to Eugene and win. Oregon has only five turnovers so far this season, but the Ducks gave up three interceptions and a fumble last year against Cal. We want to remind them of their old ways.First and foremost, we need to contain QB Dennis Dixon and RB Jonathan Stewart -- they canąt beat us running the ball. I'd put that all on my front seven, especially linebackers Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder. We'd send them on zone blitzes and try to flood the line. The goal: Stuff Stewart and fence Dixon into the pocket. If this becomes a game where Dixon has to beat us throwing, Oregon is in trouble. Our corners, Syd'Quan Thompson and Brandon Hampton, can run with Oregon's wideouts. And we'll keep blitzing our front seven and get pressure on him, then I think he's susceptible to having the ball knocked loose. On offense, I'd throw it to run it. QB Nate Longshore is tremendously accurate, and Oregon canąt afford to play man coverage against DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Robert Jordan. Throw in tight end Craig Stevens, and Longshore will have targets. He's so precise throwing it that he'll be able to complete short and intermediate passes. Once Oregon starts dropping more guys into coverage, we'll hammer RB Justin Forsett. And even if we play Oregon to a draw on offense and defense, we can win with our special teams. Jackson could take any punt back for a touchdown. And punter Andrew Larson is very underrated. If this game comes down to special teams, Cal wins.