Oct. 5, 2001
Now Oregon may have a ground game to go along with Joey Harrington's aerial ability.
The seventh-ranked Ducks hope their newfound rushing attack continues to complement Harrington as they return to Pac-10 play Saturday in a matchup with Arizona.
While Harrington led Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) to comeback victories in each of the team's first three games, he received limited help from the running game. The Ducks rushed for 323 yards and just 3.5 yards per carry through the first three contests.
In last week's 38-21 win at Utah State, however, Maurice Morris had 175 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries as Oregon rushed for 289 yards on 45 attempts. Onterrio Smith added 98 yards and a TD on 15 carries.
"Our line did a good job of helping with the pass and the run," Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said. "When you're successful with that, especially running the football, it opens up so much. Our running game made them less anxious to come after our quarterback."
Harrington, who scored on a 1-yard sneak, was 17-of-24 for 261 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He has thrown at least one TD pass in five straight games and in 11 of the last 12.
"This is a good confidence builder that we can run the ball," said Harrington, who has been the main factor in Oregon getting off to its best start since opening the 1998 season 5-0.
Though Morris has to be a concern for Arizona, coach John Mackovic realizes his team has to slow down one of the nation's most talented quarterbacks.
"I have great admiration and respect for him. He doesn't quit," Mackovic said of Harrington. "He has the poise, confidence, courage and toughness to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball.
"We have to make sure that we do not give him some of the big plays, and we have to keep constant pressure on him."
Arizona (3-1, 0-1) opened its conference schedule in ugly fashion last week, losing 48-21 to Washington State.
The Wildcats are led offensively by Jason Johnson, but the junior quarterback was picked off three times in last week's loss, completing 13-of-25 for 184 yards with a touchdown. He had thrown six TD passes and only one interception through the first three games.
The Ducks have won six of the last seven meetings with the Wildcats, taking a 14-12 lead in the all-time series.