Defense wins championships.
The Oregon Ducks have been known as an offensive squad since Chip Kelly’s arrival in 2009, but 2012 could be the year where the defense finally takes over in Eugene.
Here are 5 reasons why it will be the defense that carries the Ducks to success in 2012:
5) Shallow Running Back Core
The Ducks’ offense has been heavily focused on the run game the past few seasons, but with the departure of LaMichael James and Tra Carson from the program, the team is uncharacteristically shallow at the running back position.
It’s true that the spot is talented even without great depth. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas should prove to be two of the best backs in the conference this season.
However, in the case of an injury, the team will have far fewer options than they’ve had in the past to replace their top players.
4) Well-Conditioned Defense
The Oregon Ducks run arguably the fastest offense in all of college football, and as a result, their defense has to be well-conditioned to keep up.
In practice, the defense goes up against the blur offense every time they take the field.
In games, Oregon’s offense is off the field so quickly that there’s very little time for the defense to rest.
The Ducks have proven to be a second-half team over the past few years, and a big part of this is that the defense simply lasts longer than the opposing squads.
3) The Blur Offense is No Longer New
The Oregon Ducks run a limited playbook with all sorts of read-options. Trickery is the name of the game on offense, but before we know it, there will be a team who figures out how to stop it.
Teams such as LSU and Auburn have created blueprints on how to stop the Ducks’ offense, and while not all teams are as big up front as those SEC powerhouses, the Pac-12 is stacked with new head coaches who just might look outside their own conference to find the solution.
If 2012 is the year that the blur offense is contained, Oregon will have to rely on its defense to propel them to success.
2) Senior Leadership
What do Michael Clay, Dion Jordan and John Boyett all have in common? They’re some of the best players on the Ducks’ defense, and they’re all seniors.
These three players will help anchor a defense that should be well recognized throughout the upcoming season.
Admittedly, this team won’t have the most seniors in the country—or even the conference—but the fact is, their leaders on defense carry with them the experience that will make them contenders next year.
1) New Quarterback
Both players have tremendous upsides, but don’t be surprised if the chosen one shows signs of growing pains early in his collegiate career.
An easy non-conference schedule is great for their confidence, but the question has to be asked whether or not they’ll be prepared to face USC late in the year.
It’s true that Darron Thomas led the Ducks to a BCS National Championship in his first season as a starter, but if the player behind center falls short on occasion next season, a top-notch defense will be there to bail out the new guy.