No. 16 Oregon will enter Pac-12 play without a list of injured wide receivers, a starting tight end and possibly a starting offensive lineman.
Justin Herbert should still be drooling in the film room this week preparing for a Stanford team licking its wounds after two lopsided losses.
The Cardinal (1-2, 0-1) limps into the matchup with the Ducks (2-1) following deflating defeats to USC (45-20) and No. 15 Central Florida (45-27).
True freshmen quarterbacks Kedon Slovis (USC) and Dillon Gabriel (UCF) put up video game statistics against Stanford, finishing a combined 50-for-63 (79.4 percent) passing for 724 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
Herbert, a 6-foot-6, 237-pound senior projected to be selected at the top of the 2020 NFL draft, has completed 73.3 percent of his passes this season for 868 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions.
“He’s just a stud,” offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton said of Herbert. “He’s a student of the game and probably works harder than any of us to make sure he knows what’s in front of him, what he’s doing every single snap.
“He’s an incredible, unique, special guy. I’m happy to have him as our quarterback.”
Oregon’s offensive line could be without center Jake Hanson, a four-year starter who is still being evaluated after leaving the 35-3 win over Montana with an undisclosed injury.
Throckmorton is capable of playing center, which he did against the Grizzlies, with Brady Aiello removing his tight end jersey (No. 82) to fill in at right tackle wearing No. 66.
Herbert’s blindside protector, left tackle Penei Sewell, was named the Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week after receiving the highest grade from Pro Football Focus of any offensive lineman in the nation.
Stanford left tackle Walker Little, a projected first-round NFL draft pick before the season, will sit out the remainder of the campaign after suffering a knee injury in the opener.
Freshman offensive tackle Branson Bragg, who was inserted into the starting lineup, was carted off the field in Orlando last week.
UCF finished with six tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries.
K.J. Costello, held out of the loss to USC after suffering a concussion during a costly 17-7 win over Northwestern, was 21-for-44 (47 percent) passing for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the motivated Knights.
“I didn’t feel like I played well,” Costello said. “There’s certain situations that make the game hard, but there are certain situations where you have to make plays. I made a couple. But compared to what I expect from myself, I didn’t play well.”
Stanford’s defense returned a fumble for a touchdown with 1:24 to play but allowed UCF to pile up 545 yards.
The Cardinal led USC 17-3 before giving up 35 unanswered points and trailed UCF 38-7 at halftime.
Mario Cristobal isn’t ready to shovel dirt on Stanford, which rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit to stun Oregon 38-31 in overtime last season at Autzen Stadium.
“Everyone at this point has gone through a good amount of injuries. I feel like we spend most of our time in here talking about a lot of the guys we’ve lost as well,” Cristobal said during his Monday news conference at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. “They have quality depth across the board. They’ve been an excellent team for a long, long time.
“They’ve got great football players. They know how to win games.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.