With focus on his running game, Ducks can’t overlook Collin Klein’s passing ability

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the best dual-threat quarterback the Ducks will have played all year. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the best dual-threat quarterback the Ducks will have played all year. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Posted by Isaac Rosenthal on Monday, Dec. 31 at 1:23 pm.

PHOENIX — When you’re preparing to face a quarterback that has 890 rushing yards and stands an imposing 6-foot-5, 226 pounds, it can be easy, even tempting, to forget about his ability to throw the ball all over the place. But Klein is no slouch as a passer, with 2,490 yards on the season and 15 touchdowns.

“He’s got good targets,” Oregon safety Brian Jackson said. “And he knows how to thread the ball when it needs to be threaded.  We definitely have our work cut out for us with him as a dual-threat quarterback.  He knows how to run, he knows how to pass and he’s a lot more dangerous when he’s on the move because he can extend plays.”

Klein’s got a strong group of wideouts at his disposal too — the Wildcats top three receivers each have over 500 yards on the season while the Ducks don’t have a single receiver with that many yards.

“They know how to get up and get the ball,” Jackson said. “(Chris Harper) is definitely a deep threat, and he’s also a threat when he’s bodying up on DBs. (Tyler Lockett) has great routes and their running back knows how to swing out and get the ball and make some moves.”

But make no mistake, the Wildcats still call Klein’s number more than a few times. The Heisman finalist has more carries than running back John Hubert, and seven more rushing scores. When the Wildcats are close to the endzone, it’s no secret who’s getting the ball: Nineteen of Klein’s 22 rushing scores came on plays inside the 20. And when a play is a designed quarterback run, it often means an extra blocker.

“He can do a lot with his arm and his feet,” Oregon defensive lineman Ricky Heimuli said. “That makes it a little more difficult, but we’ve seen something like that before two years ago against Cam Newton, and so we just gotta prepare very well for what we got coming this Thursday.”

And while the Ducks didn’t beat Auburn, they were much more successful in slowing down Newton than just about anyone else, and Hemuli says they’re taking lessons from that game, as well as the tape they have on Klein to devise a strategy for Thursday.

“A lot of people do a lot of different things against him,” Heimuli said. “We’ve watched those films and we just gotta pick up the good and the bad of what they’ve done.”