Arizona at Oregon
When: TBD Nov. 18
EUGENE — It appears fans at Autzen Stadium will be treated to an intriguing showcase of young quarterback talent when Oregon hosts Arizona on Nov. 18.
Justin Herbert continues to look sharp in practice for the Ducks and could return to the lineup after suffering a fractured collarbone in a Sept. 30 victory over California.
Arizona at Oregon
When: TBD Nov. 18
“The X-rays look good, the bones are healing like we thought, actually at a faster pace. So the milk is helping,” Ducks coach Willie Taggart said before Tuesday’s bye-week practice in the Moshofsky Center. “It’s a six- to eight-week injury, and this week here is week six. Next week is week seven. So he’s kind of in that window.
“Drink a little more milk and he might jump ahead.”
Oregon’s defense is also using the bye week to heal and get a head start on preparing for Khalil Tate.
The Arizona quarterback has passed for 930 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 1,087 yards and nine touchdowns despite not starting the first month of the season.
“He’s the real deal Holyfield,” Taggart said. “The kid can play some football, and we’re going to need every single day we have to prepare for him and this football team.
“We’ve got to get healed, we’ve got to be sharp and we’ve got to play lights-out.”
Linebacker Troy Dye, who leads Oregon with 84 tackles, is resting a sore Achilles tendon.
“He’ll be fine,” Taggart said. “Did you see him just walk past here with that boot on? He had a little pop in his step. He’ll be fine.”
The Ducks rank 51st in yards allowed (377.7 ypg) and 91st in points allowed (30.1 ppg) after last Saturday’s 38-3 loss at Washington. That is still a significant improvement from 2016, when Oregon was 126th in those statistical categories, giving up 41.4 points and 518 yards per game.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt had six true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, a sophomore, a junior and two seniors on the field in the fourth quarter when Oregon kept Washington off the scoreboard for the period with a late goal-line stand.
“I was a glutton for punishment so I looked at it again last night, the game tape,” Leavitt said. “I was proud of that because of the way it was going in the third quarter we could have easily just quit and given up. That says a lot to me.
“You look for a positive thing, certainly, and that was encouraging to me to hold them out of the end zone in the fourth quarter.”
Colorado’s defense went from allowing 39 points per game in 2014, before Leavitt was hired, to 28 in 2015 and 20 in 2016. The Buffaloes’ improvement came without the benefit of 15 bowl practices.
The Ducks (5-5, 2-5) need one more victory to qualify for a postseason game.
“It’s going to be real key because we owe it to the seniors to get them to a bowl game,” junior safety Ugochukwu Amadi said. “We’ve got to get our confidence, we’ve got to get our swagger back. That’s going to be key for us to win these last two ballgames.”
Oregon will host the Civil War against Oregon State in the regular-season finale Nov. 25. The Beavers (1-8, 0-6) play Arizona on Saturday in Tucson and Arizona State on Nov. 18 in Corvallis.
The Wildcats (6-3, 4-2) were 4-0 in October after inserting Tate into the starting lineup. The sophomore from Los Angeles had 307 yards of total offense and three touchdowns during a 49-35 loss at USC last Saturday.
“Arizona’s offense is potent with Tate at quarterback,” Taggart said. “It’s going to take every practice that we get to help try to manage that guy. I wish we had two bye weeks. He’s a pretty good player, and we’re going to need that time to prepare for him.”
With a healthy Herbert and Tate, the future looks bright for Oregon and Arizona, two programs that last played in the 2014 Pac-12 championship game.