Previewing New Mexico's 2010 Opponents: Oregon Ducks

The big story for Oregon this off season should have been about how the Ducks were going to be a national title contender.  Instead their off season has been talk of legal troubles, Mike Bellotti resigns as AD to join ESPN and his golden parachute.

The biggest question for Oregon is who will be their quarterback in the fall.  Jeremiah Masoli is out as quarterback and the battle will come between Nate Costa and Darron Thomas once the season begins.  My gut goes with Nate Costa, and the way Chip Kelly has been able to plug in quarterbacks and they all do well.  This happened when Dennis Dixon went down (well the following year), and when Jeremiah Masoli took over for Darron Thomas during the Boise State game in 2008.

The quarterback play will be fine and with their opener against New Mexico will give the quarterback a chance to ease in before they travel to Tennessee next week.  The opener the Ducks will not have running back LaMichael James because of his own legal issues.  Whoever is the quarterback will be someone who is athletic enough to run the read option and being able to roll out which are all required in the playbook.

The offense will be fine with LaMichael James running the ball since he was the second in the Pac-10 in rushing in 2009 with a solid 6.79 yards per carry, and is the leagues returning rusher.  The offense is not going to be a problem since Chip Kelly seems to be able to plug in players and achieve excellent results. Wide receiver, and four star recruit, Diante Jackson who is a big target  could be the deep threat the Ducks need. Jackson will be able to help stretch the field vertically in addition to the horizontal spread with the run option plays.

The defense is often over looked in the Pac-10 since points seem to come at ease, but Oregon was fourth in total defense within the Pac-10 last year.   The defense will hold its own against the league since only a few teams have the capable offenses to get by the Duck defense.  Those teams are USC, Arizona, Oregon State, and Stanford, but out of those four USC and Stanford have some questions about their offense. 

The leader of the defense Kenny Rowe who is a very good pass rusher and looks to continue the Ducks tradition of having good ends who sack the quarterback.  Rowe's success as well as the defense is not necessarily measured on yards allowed, but it will be the amount of turnovers the defense can allow as well as holding teams to field goals.

The main focus on Oregon has been and for the future will be how good their offense and not really on their defense.  The offense will be fine and the defense is no slouch which means the Ducks should be the preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 and if the quarterback play gets in a groove then a trip to the BCS title game is a real possibility.


Coach: Chip Kelly
Last season: 10-3 overall, 8-1 in the Pac-10. Lost 26-17 to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Spring dates: March 30-May 1.

RETURNING STARTERS

(minimum of six starts)
Offense (9): G Mark Asper, WR D.J. Davis, C Jordan Holmes, RB LaMichael James, T C.E. Kaiser, WR Jeff Maehl, T Bo Thran, WR Lavasier Tuinei, G Carson York.
Defense (8): T Brandon Bair, FS John Boyett, CB Talmadge Jackson, SS Javes Lewis, LB Casey Matthews, LB Spencer Paysinger, LB Eddie Pleasant, E Kenny Rowe.
Special teams (1): P Jackson Rice.

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: LaMichael James* (1,608)
Passing: Jeremiah Masoli (2,147)
Receiving: Jeff Maehl* (696)
Tackles: John Boyett* (90)
Sacks: Kenny Rowe* (11.5)
Interceptions: Talmadge Jackson* (4)

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