Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's response was swift.
When asked what concerned him more — the environment at rowdy Autzen Stadium or the Oregon team the 16th-ranked Utes face Saturday — he didn't hesitate.
"The Ducks. It's the players. The stadium is great and the crowd is great, but ultimately it's the players that are the factor," Whittingham said. "That's something that once the game starts, as a player, you block it out. It sounds strange but when you're on the field and you're playing the game, you're oblivious to the crowd."
Oregon, he added, has everything you expect from a top tier Pac-10 team.
Whittingham said quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is very good and dangerous.
"He's just a tremendous runner and started to throw the ball much better last week than the week prior."
The Ducks managed just 152 yards of total offense and six first downs in a season-opening 19-8 loss at Boise State. The numbers improved drastically in last week's 38-36 win over Purdue in Eugene. Oregon racked up 356 yards and 17 first downs on the Boilermakers.
The improved productivity isn't all that surprising, especially at when the Ducks are at home. Since first-year head coach Chip Kelly arrived at Oregon as the offensive coordinator two years ago, they've averaged 40.6 points per game.
This season, however, got off to a rough start when senior running back LeGarrette Blount threw a highly publicized punch after the loss in Boise. He was suspended for the rest of the season — leaving the Ducks with a big void in the backfield.
Blount rushed for 1,002 yards last season and scored a school-record 17 touchdowns. Oregon's defense, however, still has stars to face.
Senior cornerback Walter Thurmond III has 180 solo tackles in his career, second-most among active players in the nation. He also ranks second in interceptions with 12, taking one back for a touchdown last week against Purdue.
Other players to watch include a pair of talented juniors — defensive end Kenny Rowe (1.25 sacks per game) and middle linebacker Casey Matthews (11 tackles per game).
"You can't expect the offense to consistently go 80 yards on a defense like Oregon's," Whittingham said. "So that will be even more magnified this week for our defense to come away with some takeaways and get our offense in (short field) situations."
After a subpar outing last weekend at San Jose State, Utah faces a greater degree of difficulty at Oregon. The Utes carry the nation's longest active win streak (16 games) into the contest.
"We have to work on what we're not doing so well," Whittingham said. "(But) our guys will be ready to go."
Utes on the air
No. 16 Utah (2-0)at Oregon (1-1)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT
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