By Ryan Thorburn

The (Eugene) Register-Guard

Next up

Oregon at Utah

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: Pac-12

Three yards and a cloud of FieldTurf.

That was essentially Oregon’s approach on offense during last Saturday’s 42-21 victory over UCLA at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks ran the ball 42 times for 200 net yards against a Bruins defense that entered the game ranked 107th in rushing yards allowed (209.2 yards per game).

Now Oregon will face Utah, which leads the Pac-12 and is ninth nationally in rushing defense (100.0 ypg).

Quarterback Justin Herbert said the Ducks must continue to be patient and stick with the ground game Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“When we start running the ball, I think we’re a pretty good offense,” Herbert said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s an emphasis we have every week.”

Tony Brooks-James, who has had a quiet senior season with the emergence of redshirt freshman C.J. Verdell as the featured back, finally produced a big play in the run game with a 54-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter against the Bruins.

The Ducks (6-3, 3-3) averaged just 3.6 yards on their other 41 rushing attempts against UCLA.

“Running between the tackles is something we’re doing now, and to see him hit that off-tackle play in a seam was really nice. We all know what he can do in the open field,” offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said of Brooks-James, who lined up behind Herbert with the first-team offense to start Tuesday’s practice. “We rely on Tony and were going to roll with Tony and he’s going to do a good job.

“He’s got to continue to believe and trust in some of those plays that are a little bit muddier maybe than what he’s used to.”

Oregon is averaging 177.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks fourth in the Pac-12 and 56th nationally.

Mario Cristobal’s plan for bringing the Ducks back to national prominence begins with building dominant offensive and defensive lines.

Longtime Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has a reputation for getting his teams to control the line of scrimmage consistently.

“You’ve got to try to match their physicality, you’ve got to be really sound in your technique and fundamentals,” Arroyo said. “This will be a good test.”

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