eDuck Season Expectations
Without a doubt, the schedule is treacherous and there is a lot of unproven talent. However, I’m choosing to be optimistic based on the veteran talent this team already possesses. Oregon has the ability to win 10-11 games, especially if some of the younger names that emerged from fall camp live up to their billing. Those names will be tested early and often this season, starting at home against Michigan State in Week 2, and they will have to grow up fast for the Ducks to reach that win total.
I don’t think any Pac-12 team will make it through the conference schedule unscathed, but I think if any team from the conference will make the inaugural playoff, it will be Oregon.
I think this could be Oregon’s year to return to the national championship game, they have the talent and a favorable schedule. Led by a healthy Marcus Mariota, arguably the best quarterback in Oregon history, this offense is loaded. There has been a renewed emphasis on weight training and Mark Helfrich has already commented about the improved offensive line play. Besides Marcus, the line will be blocking for Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and true freshman phenom Royce Freeman, likely the best group of running backs in the country. With Bralon Addison on the mend, the biggest concern is at wide receiver, but watch out for the debut of Devon Allen who could be the Duck’s next game breaker. Veteran Keanon Lowe is also a solid receiver and both Darren Carrington and Dwayne Stanford should contribute significantly. Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt are sometimes overlooked but both are excellent tight ends.
Oregon’s success is usually measured by their lightning fast offense, but I’m also predicting an improved defense under new hardnosed coordinator Don Pellum. Look for a less complicated smash mouth look that will increase pressure at the point of attack. DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead will star at defensive end and Alex Balducci will be counted on to hold ground in the middle. There is also a solid group of experienced linebackers returning and John Neal always manages to reload with top defensive back talent, which will be anchored by future first round pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Oregon has lost only two games in five years at Duck friendly Autzen stadium so the biggest hurdle may be the trip to UCLA on October 11th.
Ducks beat MSU, looking strong on both sides of the ball. They get a scare at Pullman, then regroup and punish Arizona. After 8 days of rest, they beat UCLA in a close game in Pasadena, and return home to muzzle the Huskies. Sadly, they lose in a foul weather game at home to Stanford, and end the season 11-1. Assuming UCLA in the P-12 championship (who knows about ASU or USC), Ducks come up short as the Bruins exact revenge. Finish out of the running for the BCS playoffs.
The eventual Pac-12 Champion will come from Eugene, Oregon. Too much talent, depth and Marcus Mariota for the rest of the field, though the biggest surprise could come from the defensive side of the ball. The Ducks will also move on to four-team playoff for the National Championship.
Stanford will again be physical and tough but the questions about speed on the outside remain. UCLA presents the biggest challenge from the Southern Division as Jim Mora’s crew is a year older and more experienced. Arizona State could also make some noise in the season but the team that could be a huge disappointment is USC as they continue their struggle to rebuild after the sanctions.
Washington hopes Chris Peterson can bring the same success to Seattle that he had at Boise State, but regardless of how great a coach Peterson is, the process of making the Huskies a contender is more of a marathon race rather than a dash. Oregon State hopes to find a replacement for Brandin Cooks though some think Victor Bolden is that guy. Washington State could be the biggest surprise of the conference spoiling some team’s chances in the race, but what won’t be a surprise is they’ll pass more this year than last!
USC fans are hoping all the pre-season bad news about fabricated stories and players making accusations towards the coaching staff are just anomalies but still they could be at least a year off before they become a factor in the conference race. Utah and Arizona will be respectable while Colorado and California continue to struggle.
My analysis comes with the advantage of having watched Washington State implode against a less than good Rutgers team. They are going to struggle but likely come out third or fourth in the North. I expect Oregon to with the North while Stanford or Washington take second place. It will be tough to see if Chris Petersen can lead the Huskies in the correct direction towards prominence. Stanford will almost certainly take a step back this season as they lose a lot defensively and Tyler Gaffney. Oregon State will do what they usually do, winning a game they have no business winning and losing one they have no business losing. California is still in full rebuild mode and will struggle again this season.
In the South, I expect either ASU or UCLA to come out on top of the division. USC will drop at least two in the division and will finish fourth in the south. Arizona will be looking to build on their success but will fall short of the south crown. Utah is a sleeper team in the south and they could do damage if someone (like Oregon) overlooks them. I’m calling Colorado playing in the post season. I don’t know why, but I think if they get through the non-conference season unscathed they will go bowling.
eDuck Top Stories
Oregon HC Mark Helfrich on Sept. 29, 2016On Saturday, the Oregon Ducks (2-2, 0-1) travel to Pullman, Wash., to take on the Washington State Cougars (1-2, 0-0) at Martin Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Pacific…
Oregon DC Brady Hoke Talks WSU OffenseOn Thursday morning, Oregon defensive coordinator answered media questions about Washington State's offense as the Ducks prepare to meet the Cougars on Saturday at Martin Stadium.
Oregon OC Matt Lubick on Sept 28Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick on Sept. 28, 2016 following practice as the Ducks prepare for Washington State this Saturday. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific)…
Oregon WR Dwayne Stanford on Sept. 27, 2016Oregon WR Dwayne Staford spoke to reporters following practice on Tuesday. The Ducks are preparing to face Washington State on Saturday in a game that will be carried on Pac-12…
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