The last playoff game of the night, the showdown between Oregon and Alabama is a major one to watch. Oregon is seeking to advance to the Semifinals for only the second time in their CFSL history. Alabama, on the other hand, is seeking their first journey into the Semifinal round. Let’s start our breakdown with the Ducks of Oregon.
The Ducks haven’t quite found a way to soar, but they have the talent to do so. The strong armed quarterback of Axton Richardson has some really reliable targets in receivers Bugsy Bates and Dee Frost. Halfback Jimmy Tickle is getting ready to roll on. Look, tonight might be the kind of night for Richardson to just go off against the Alabama secondary, and he’s got the arsenal to blow the Crimson Tide defense away.
The Ducks are a bit more…perplexing defensively. Cai Brummer is an exceptional talent at safety, but he’s tapered off over the last couple of weeks. I like Rex Tyler in the secondary, as well as linebackers Puna Mortensen, Jack Ross, and Griffin Richardson. Except none of them standout. With this defense you don’t know who is going to be called upon to stand up and make a stop like the Mark Calloways of the league. Somebody needs to put their foot down tonight and make a statement for this Oregon defense.
Enter the Crimson Tide, led by signal-caller Balion Siege. The dual-threat quarterback will have plenty of opportunities, as will receivers Baron Adams and Akamu Lee. But, Alabama fans are really waiting for halfback Ferrell Norman to exert his will on the Ducks tonight. The bone-crushing running style of Norman has not led to major success for him. He’s only got two games of 100 rushing yards this season. Tonight is the night for Norman to establish some dominance against the Ducks and roll to victory.
The Alabama defense is hindered by their secondary. Yes, I know Lamar Fant and Zachrey Carter are still back there, but on the boundary? It’s not pretty and that means Fant and Carter have to be able to overcome that. Or they can combat that weakness up front. Defensive ends Jackson Adok and Richard Bradley have got to get home against Axton Richardson and force him to either get the ball out quickly, or take the sack. An occasional blitz from linebacker Tyson Cane Blade wouldn’t hurt either.
what to watch for
Two very different offenses take the field tonight. One that can set sidelines and secondaries alike on fire through the air, and another that is more based on timing. Quick decisions. And, if the play breaks down, that’s when their quarterback can do his best work and make the biggest splash. Oregon and Alabama, it doesn’t get much better.
Zachary Pinesaw is a legitimate corner, and he’ll likely be staring in the face of Baron Adams a great deal tonight. Pinesaw has got to keep track of Adams in those instances and has got to find a way to keep him quiet. I know Akamu Lee can make splash plays, but if Adams were to get loose? Things could go sideways really fast for these Ducks.
From the linebacker position, a lot of the spotlight gets focused on Tyson Cane Blade, but it was really Jeremy Mosley who impressed me more in the Army-Navy game before the season started. While Mosley may be experiencing a quiet rookie campaign, he can make a lot of noise tonight if given the opportunity. Mosley can wreck shop and make plays in the backfield. Alabama needs to find a way to let the man work.
Tom Pence’s Predictions:
Oregon 21, Alabama 24
The Tide’s run game is over powering at times but it will take a passing attack to keep pace with the Ducks. Oregon has shown at times that they can both run and pass.I think this may play in the weakness of the Crimson Tide defense and may be just too much. For the Ducks to move on this needs to be an up tempo battle. Alabama will slow it down and that’s the difference.
Houston Freeman’s Predictions:
Oregon 27, Alabama 31
Alabama has looked consistent on offense for several weeks since getting dismantled by Texas. Oregon enters with the exact same record as the Tide, and shared three opponents. Both teams went 1-2 in those games and had extremely similar scores, with that in mind I think this game is going to come down to who has the ball last. Alabama gets the edge for their offensive consistency.
DAVID ROY’S PREDICTIONS:
OREGON 35, alabama 31
I know that Alabama’s defense has been able to succeed despite their weakness at the boundary corner position. But this is not a good matchup. Their one hope to be able to contain the Ducks offense is to find a way to bring down Axton Richardson before he can get a shot off, and while the Crimson Tide has that capability, I’m not confident they’ll be able to execute and their offense can’t keep up.