Monday, August 23, 2010
PAC 10 2010-Oregon Ducks
2009 Record: 10-3 (8-1)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly (2nd season, 10-3)
Offensive Coordinator: Mark Helfrich (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Aliotti (13th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Rose Bowl, lost to Ohio State 26-17
Offense: The loss of Jeremiah Masoli has taken what should be a potential national championship contender and knocked it down 10 full spots. The Ducks are still potentially the best team in the conference, but they still have to settle an unexpected QB battle between Nate Costa and Darrin Thomas. Both players have benefits, and both have concerns. LaMichael James looks to be the sure thing at RB, but he too had off-season off-field issues that are lingering. Kenjon Barner is the fall back option. Jeff Maehl, DJ Davis, and Lavasler Tuinei all return at WR, and all 5 linemen return. One of the biggest replacements besides at QB will be who replaces TE Ed Dickson. it's a 3 way battle.
Defense: The strength is in the secondary, which ha soften been the case with historical Ducks teams. Cliff Harris and Talmadge Jackson III are both big time CBs. Eddie Pleasant and John Boyett return to man the safety spots. Casey Matthews is becoming a legend and Spencer Paysinger is underrated at LB. Josh Kaddu looks to be the lone new starter at OLB. Kenny Rowe is a dominating at times DE, and Brandon Bair will team up with him at RDT. Zac Clark and Terrell Turner look to man the other line spots. The experience, talent , and depth make this one of the best defenses in the country coming into 2010.
Special Teams: Rob Beard looks to be the new PK, but Alejandro Maldanado looks to push him in camp. Jackson Rice is solid at punter.
Wins: 9/4 New Mexico, 9/18 Portland State, 9/25 @ Arizona State, 10/2 Stanford, 10/9 @ Washington State, 10/21 UCLA, 11/13 @ California, 11/26 Arizona, 12/4 @ Oregon State
Toss Up Games: 9/11 @ Tennessee, 10/30 @ USC, 11/6 Washington
The three toss games are all winnable, but you never bet against Tennessee in Knoxville outright. The Ducks burned USC in Eugene last season, but the game is in LA this season, and Oregon has trouble there. Washington is the up and coming threat in the conference, and the Ducks and Huskies have a rivalry that goes way back. The rest of the schedule should be easily handled by the Ducks.
Outlook: Oregon is the front runner to win the PAC 10 in the final season of the current format before expansion takes hold. The Ducks would have been a top 3 title contender if not for the loss of Masoli, but they are still a solid bet to return to Pasadena in January, where I can see them playing either Wisconsin or playing a rematch against Ohio State.