The Ducks are statistically better so far this season but does that mean they have improved?

Coming into this season, what we knew about the Oregon Ducks was that it had a potent offense, but a dreadful defense. So dreadful in fact, that Oregon headman Mark Helfrich made a change after the Ducks disastrous loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl; but what about this year?

Last season, the Ducks had a defense that was so bad, it ranked dead last in the Pac-12 Conference at 485.3 yards per game. The Ducks were also dead last in scoring defense allowing 37.5 ppg to be scored against them.

However, so far there has been improvement statistically.

This year the Ducks are ranked #82 nationally and eighth in the conference at 390.0 ypg, two spots below UCLA at #80 (385.0) and above Arizona (#101, 435.5), California (#107, 472.5), Washington State (#118, 513.0) and Arizona State (#119, 513.0).

Oregon is allowing 27.0 ppg (ranked #80 nationally) just below UCLA’s 26.0 ppg game and above USC (29.5), Oregon State,  Arizona State (34.0), Cal and WSU (38.0), putting the Ducks right in the middle of the conference in scoring defense.

The offense is still churning out the yardage and scoring big points.

The Ducks are averaging 577.0 ypg, which makes them the No. 8 team nationally and the second ranked team in the conference behind California’s whopping 617.0 ypg which is tied for the No. 3 spot nationally with TCU.  The Ducks are also tied at No. 17 for points scored at 48.5 ppg, tied with FSU and TCU. In the conference race Oregon is third in scoring behind ASU at 56.0, Washington at 53.5 and Colorado at 50.0 ppg.

Last season the Ducks were the top team in the conference in scoring at 43.0 ppg and total offense at 538.2 ppg.

That means the Ducks so far, are allowing 10.0 ppg fewer than last season and giving up 95.3 yards less in total offense.

These are statistics and while it should be taken simply as a comparison, it does reveal that Helfrich’s change at defensive coordinator, Brady Hoke has made an impact in this early season.

Next week will face its biggest challenge of the young season when it travels to Nebraska to take on Mike Riley and the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. The Huskers are giving up a stingy 13.5 ppg while scoring 47.5 ppg. Nebraska relies on its rushing game to account for 215.0 of the total 478.0 ypg.

While we can ask now what we have learned about Oregon based on playing two games against Cal-Davis and Virginia, we’ll learn a lot more next week against Nebraska.

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