What will 2012 have in store?
The Oregon Ducks will have a different look to their team this year following the departures of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, but don’t expect that to slow anybody down on this ultra-talented squad in Eugene.
5) The Ducks Will Have a Top-25 Defense
The Oregon Ducks gave up 24.6 points per game last year, which was just good enough for 52nd in the nation. They also allowed 381 yards per game, which ranked 60th.
Going into next season, the Ducks will have a brand new weapon in freshman lineman Arik Armstead. The 6’8”, 297-pound DL could become the biggest impact player on defense the team has had in quite some time.
Complimenting Armstead on the defensive side of the ball will be Terrence Mitchell.
Mitchell, just a true freshman last year, had spurts of great play despite his tenacious youth coming out sometimes. His growth into the 2012 season should help the Ducks big time in the secondary.
The Ducks also play a much easier non-conference schedule this season. Without a powerhouse like LSU to test the team early, the Ducks should roll over the competition and put their defense on display when the season kicks off Sept. 1 against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
4) Bryan Bennett Will Be the Starting Quarterback All Year Long
Much has been made about the quarterback competition in Eugene this offseason.
Marcus Mariota has the arm and the legs to run a successful spread-option offense, but when it comes down to it, so does Bennett.
Bennett has game experience from last season, and having shown he can get it done when it counts will keep him in the lineup all the way through the 2012 season.
3) The Ducks Will Lose to USC in the Regular Season
This is a bold statement considering many Ducks fans are picking this team to go undefeated before the 2012 Pac-12 championship game.
Heading into the Nov. 3 matchup between the Ducks and the USC Trojans, there is a very good chance that both teams will have perfect records and will be top-5 programs.
This could very well be 2012’s Game of the Century.
The final score of last year’s loss was 38-35, but without a miraculous comeback by the Ducks, the result would have looked much different.
The defense will be better, but Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marquise Lee will still be too much to handle.
2) De’Anthony Thomas Will Be A Heisman Finalist
De’Anthony Thomas has the potential to become the greatest Oregon Duck ever by the time his collegiate career comes to an end.
As just a freshman last year, Thomas was the only player in the nation with 500 yards or more rushing, receiving and returning kicks.
The sophomore will be a running back on most people’s depth charts, but his all-purpose style could garner serious recognition when it comes to Heisman voting at the end of the year.
An easy schedule to begin the season might not be the most exciting for fans to watch, but don’t be surprised when Thomas puts his speed, quickness and incredible field vision on display en route to another historic season.
1) Oregon Will Win Their 4th Consecutive Pac-12 Title
If the Ducks do lose their first matchup of the season against the USC Trojans, a light Pac-12 North schedule should still propel them into the conference championship game.
If that ends up being the case, watch out Trojans.
Chip Kelly has proven to be a master of halftime adjustments, and he could very well take that same mentality into a rematch with USC.
The Ducks have won the past three Pac-12 championships. A win against USC in the championship game will propel the team to their fourth straight title, and their third Rose Bowl appearance in the last four years.