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Oregon’s strategy to stop Khalil Tate? ‘Pray’

Not like anything else has worked

Oregon v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Nobody has been able to stop Khalil Tate.

Heck, aside from the first half against USC, no one has really even been able to slow him down either.

Blitzing, staying home on the edge, and putting nine players in the box hasn’t worked for opposing defenses, but what about a different strategy?

Oregon Ducks coach Willie Taggart, who faces Tate and the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, has one in mind.

“Pray,” he said Monday in his weekly presser. “No one has stopped him yet this year. He’s a heck of a talent.”

Tate, who has rushed for 1,207 yards in six games since taking over as UA’s full-time quarterback, ranks second in the country in rushing yards per game (161.2).

The sophomore also leads all FBS players with an average of 11.65 yards per rush and 10.61 yards per play.

On a serious note, Taggart says Oregon needs to be disciplined and tackle well to have any shot at limiting Tate’s production.

“Probably the most important thing, we’ve got to get lined up,” he said. “You see a lot of the big plays they make, defenses aren’t aligned right, part of it because of the tempo and not getting set up. I don’t think you can complicate things trying to defend him. I think that will get you to, when you ask your guys to do too much and then they don’t do anything right.

“I will say this, we’ve got to be really good at tackling, something we focused on a lot during the bye week. We’ve got to do a great job of tackling and make sure — we’re going to know where he’s at, we’ve just got to do a good job of getting to him and tackling.”

Oregon actually enters Saturday’s game with a pretty solid run defense, allowing 129.0 rushing yards per game (just 3.7 yards per carry), good for second in the Pac-12.

But Arizona enters with the conference’s top rushing attack, by far, and the nation’s No. 3 rushing attack.

“Their backs are pretty good players, too, and they’ve got some receivers who can make plays,” Taggart said of Arizona. “They’re a dynamic offense that has challenges but if we’re on top of our game and play with a lot of emotion and passion and discipline then we’ll have a chance.”

Some divine intervention wouldn’t hurt either.