Monday, July 30, 2012
The Oregon Ducks have won three consecutive Pac 10/12 titles and look to go for a fourth this year. Chip Kelly has taken this team to the next level and has consistently improved on their record each year going 10-3 in 2009, 12-1 in 2010, and going 12-2 in 2011. He has taken Oregon to two Rose Bowls and one BCS Title game. He has potential to be the greatest coach in Oregon history if he can finally win the BCS title there. The Ducks did lose their leading rusher in LaMichael James and starting quarterback Darron Thomas inexplicably left early for the NFL Draft. Thomas was not drafted and now the Ducks are going to start an inexperienced quarterback. Expectations are still high in Eugene though as Chip Kelly has made the Ducks a perennial contender not only in the Pac 12 but on the national scene too.
The Oregon Ducks return 5 starters on an offense that ranked 4th in total offense, 5th in rushing offense, and 68th in passing offense. Right now, the quarterback battle is between junior Bryan Bennett and sophomore Marcus Mariota. Mariota looks to have the edge heading into fall camp even though he did not get any playing time last year. Bennett played some last year and threw for 369 yards and 6 touchdowns on 25 of 46 passing. Bennett also ran for 200 yards on 23 attempts. But during the Spring Game, Mariota's Mighty Oregon squad thrashed the Bennett Fighting Oregon squad 41-14. Luckily the Ducks have running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas returning. Barner ran for 939 yards and 11 touchdowns last year while also adding 17 receptions for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns. Thomas ran for 595 yards and 7 touchdowns while also being the second leading receiver with 46 receptions for 605 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Ducks return only one starting wide receiver, Josh Huff. Huff had 31 receptions for 430 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wide receivers Devon Blackmon and Rahsaan Vaughn will be in the other two slots. Blackomn is a redshirt freshman and Vaughn only had 14 receptions for 184 yards and 1 touchdown. The tight end position will probably be Colt Lyeria. Colt had 7 receptions for 147 yards last year and no touchdowns. The offensive line returns center Hroniss Grasu, left guard Carson York, and left tackle Nick Cody. The right side of the line will be new and have Ryan Clanton at right guard and Jake Fisher at right tackle. This offense should be able to keep up the pace that Kelly enjoys and shouldn't sturgle too much in their first three games as they gel.
The Ducks return 6 starters on a defense that ranks 67th in total defense, 54th in rushing defense, and 88th in passing defense. Part of the reason their numbers are so bad is because they are out on the field more than other defenses. Oregon was dead last in the FBS in time of possession. The Oregon front four return 3 starters with defensive tackles Ricky Heimuli and Taylor Hart, and defensive end Dion Jordan. Heimuli had 22 tackles and 0.5 a tackle for loss while Hart had 44 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Jordan had 42 tackles, a team leading 13 tackles for loss, and a team leading 7.5 sacks. True freshman Arik Armstead looks to be the other defensive end heading into fall camp. The linebacking corps returns only one starter in the Will linebacker Michael Clay. Clay was the second leading tackler for Oregon with 102 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions with 1 returned for a touchdown. Kiko Alonso will be at the Mike and Boseko Lokombo will be at the Sam. Alonso had 46 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks last year while Lokombo had 33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns. The secondary returns 2 starters with Terrnace Mitchell at one corner and free safety John Boyett. Mitchell had 45 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions while Boyett had led the team with 108 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 a sack, and 1 interception. The other corner back will be Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and the rover Avery Patterson. Ekpre-Olomu had 34 tackles, 0.5 a tackle for a loss, and 8 passes broken up while Patterson had 55 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 5 passes broken up. This defense will need too shore up against the pass to improve from last year.
The Oregon schedule boils down to one key stretch from mid-October to mid-November. The Ducks start off the year with three straight non-conference games at home with Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech. The Ducks then host Arizona before heading to a neutral site game with Washington State. The Ducks then host Washington the following week before taking a bye. A Thursday night game at Arizona State precedes the Ducks home game against Colorado. The big showdown at USC comes after Colorado and it should determine who hosts the Pac 12 Championship Game November 30th. After a tough USC game, the Ducks head to Cal before coming home for Stanford. The last game of the season is the Civil War at Oregon State. I think the Ducks will play the next Friday in the Pac 12 Championship Game. I'm not sure when but I know the Ducks will split with USC. I think they'll end up 12-1 but I don't know if they'll be Pac 12 Champs and having a shot at the BCS or if they'll be headed to the Rose Bowl as an alternate. All in all, I think the Ducks will have another great season and be in the mix for the BCS title.