2015 Record: 9-4 (7-2)
Head Coach: Mark Helfrich (33-8; fourth year)
Returning Starters: 6 Offense/5 Defense
Key Losses: QB Vernon Adams; DL DeForest Buckner; WR Bralon Addison; LB Joe Walker; OT Tyler Johnstone
Key Returners: WR/DB Charles Nelson; RB Royce Freeman; OT Tyrell Crosby; DL Henry Mondeaux; CB Arrion Springs
2015 Offense: 538 ypg (280 rush/258 pass); 43.0 ppg
2015 Defense: 485 ypg (179 rush/307 pass); 37.5 ppg
Offense: The Ducks have failed to develop a high school quarterback who signed with them since Marcus Mariota signed back in 2011, but they appear to have found a new way of filling the depth, going the "free agent" route, signing Vernon Adams in 2015 and getting Dakota Prukop to come over as a grad-transfer from Montana State. The Oregon coaches have raved about Prukop's abilities as a runner, but he is only so-so passing it, so expect a heavy dose of tailback Royce Freeman who we consider a darkhorse to win the Heisman this fall. Losing Tyler Johnstone will hurt, but the Ducks do return Tyrell Crosby and Cameron Hunt on the left side and that should help keep things calm up front.
Defense: This unit is the great unknown for the Ducks as we head into the season. Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke takes over defensive coordinator duties for the demoted Don Pellum, who guided Oregon's defense to epic depths last fall, going from allowing just over 20 points per game in 2014 to nearly 38 per game last season. The loss of DeForest Buckner could be huge, but Henry Mondeaux returns and he's a versatile player. The Ducks lose their top-three tacklers from last season, but their entire secondary returns, led by Arrion Springs and Tyree Robinson. Things couldn't get much worse for the Ducks, so if Hoke can drop their points per game and improve the pass defense, that should help out Oregon immensely.
The Bottom Line: Is head coach Mark Helfrich on the hot seat? Not really, but another disastrous season like last year would definitely start turning up the heat. That's where things are with the Ducks though. They look like they are down, yet they still finished with a 9-4 record and beat the eventual conference champs -- Stanford. If Prukop can stay healthy and be a consistent passer, the offense shouldn't skip a beat, especially with Freeman carrying the rock. Throw in a expected improvement on defense and the Ducks could again be poised to challenge for the Pac 12 Championship.