oregon sports

Predicting the Oregon Ducks’ 2012 strengths & weaknesses

Another Rose Filled Year?

The Oregon Ducks‘ 2011 campaign was, needless to say, quite impressive. Despite accumulating two losses, one to a team in LSU that appeared in the BCS National Championship, the Ducks won their third consecutive Pac 10/12 title while also laying claim to their first Rose Bowl since 1917.

After departures by star players RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas to the NFL, the Ducks will look to begin the next era of Duck football in 2012.

Players like Bryan Bennett, Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barnerand DeAnthony Thomas will be leading Oregon’s charge towards a fourth straight Pac 10/12 title.

Bryan Bennett

Will Bryan Bennett be leading the Ducks, or will it be RS Freshman Marcus Mariota?

Yet, as high as expectations are once again for the Oregon Ducks, this does not mean that they are not without fault. As mentioned earlier, although the Ducks do have talented depth at RB and QB, the departure of both James and Thomas are quite significant.

With such lofty expectations riddled with a sense of roster uncertainty, here are the strengths and weaknesses of the 2012 University of Oregon Ducks.

Strength – Coaching

One of the most appreciated yet under-appreciated aspects of Oregon football is the coaching. While that statement may seem at odds with itself, hear me out.

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is without a doubt one of the most respected and smartest minds in college football. Utilizing his offensive knowledge day-in and day-out, Kelly has led the Ducks to new heights. He is an innovative, fast-thinking, and a silent leader who is able to make adjustments whenever he deems necessary.

Though Pac 12 coaches have tried to pick-and-pry at his brains for years now, Kelly has always been one step ahead of the game.

Yet, it is not only coach Kelly that deserves accolades for the success of the Oregon Duck football program.

One of the most least appreciated aspects of Oregon football is the coaching stability that they have had throughout the years and the significant contributions their assistants have made to the program. Included in this list of excellent coaches are Nick Aliotti , Don Pellum, and Scott Frost. 

Though they have all received flack at one point or another, most notably Aliotti for his bend but don’t break aggressive defensive attitude, all have contributed significantly to the rise of Oregon football throughout the nation.

Pellum has shaped Oregon running-backs into some of the finest in the nation and Frost has helped to develop quarterbacks and corner-backs as the two continue to become solid units for the Fighting Ducks.

Taken altogether, the Oregon Duck coaching staff is one of the best in the nation.

Strength – Running back Tandem

Last year it was James and Barner. This year, it will be Barner and Thomas. No, not Darron Thomas, he is long gone; DeAnthony Thomas is the name you are searching for.

De' Anthony Thomas

De’Anthony Thomas will be looking to help the Ducks claim their fourth-straight Pac 12 title by matching production from 2011.

Oregon has had the recent fortune of having some of the best running-backs in college football at the same time. Whether it was Stewart and Johnson or James and Barner, Oregon running back tandems have absolutely wrecked havoc on college football defenses.

With the departure of James to the NFL, DeAnthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner will lead the Oregon charge down the field.

If you have not heard already, Thomas and Barner are pretty good. Just a true freshman last season, DeAnthony Thomas will break your ankles with his cutbacks and burn by you with his straight speed; just ask the Wisconsin Badgers.

Though Thomas will surely receive his fair share of carries in the 2012 season, it will be Kenjon Barner that shoulders the load for the Ducks this fall.

Always hidden somewhat in the shadows by James, Barner has always been a reliable back for the Ducks of Oregon and has also been rumored to be faster than LaMichael.

With Barner and Thomas leading the charge, expect great things to come out of the Oregon backfield once again.

Strength – Line-backing Corps

One of the hidden gems of Oregon football in recent years has been their line-backing corps. Players such as Casey Matthews, Spencer Paysinger, and most recentlyJosh Kadduhave been huge players within the Pac 12 and on defense.

Though Matthews, Paysinger, and Kaddu have all moved on to greater things in the NFL, Oregon is slowly but surely becoming the new “linebacker-U”.

This year, 2012, expect Oregon to have an even better line-backing corps as they returning stars Boseko Lokombo, Michael Clay, and Kiko Alonso.

If a college football offense is not scared of that corps of destroyers, I don’t know what else could frighten them.

While Clay and Alonso both made names for themselves during the 2012 season, expect Lokombo to emerge as one of the best players in college football, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

If anything is sure about these players, it is that they are some of the most hard-nosed defenders you will ever see. Playing the attacking style of defense that Nick Allioti orchestrates, Lokombo, Clay, and Alonso are true run-stoppers that always end up where the ball is.

Expect great things out of these players in 2012.

Weakness – QB Uncertainty

I know that some people will question this, but it is really one of the weaknesses that Oregon will face leading up to the season, and is mainly so because Oregon does not really have many weaknesses heading into a 2012 season filled with high hopes.

Whether it is Marcus Mariota or Bryan Bennett, the Ducks need to figure out their starter at quarterback sooner-than-later due to the complexity of their system and cohesiveness of the team.

Can Josh Huff equal his productivity from recent years? Photo credit: Register Guard

While either quarterback will undoubtedly serve the team well, it is always better to resolve any issues/questions you have before entering any important games.

Weakness – Strength of Schedule

Looking for yet another BCS National Championship bid, the Ducks may find themselves concerned with how weak their out-of-conference schedule is this year.

Though the Pac 12 should be fairly formidable, three home games to start the season against the likes of Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech give the Ducks an easy path to three straight victories.

While this will look good in the win column, BCS voters will not be impressed by this schedule. Since the Ducks will be vying for a BCS National Championship this year, they have to feel worried about their lack of a true test prior to Pac 12 play.

Weakness – Wide Receivers

I know that the Ducks haveJosh Huff and Rahsaan Vaughnreturning, there is a lot of uncertainty around who will start alongside them.

Will it beTacoi SumlerorDevon Blackman?

While there is surely talent there and the depth at the position, uncertainty about who will be productive at wide receiver for the Ducks remains one of their bigger questions heading into the 2012 season.

After looking at both the strengths and weaknesses of what will be the 2012 Oregon football team, the Ducks look as though they will be contending for their fourth straight Pac 10/12 title as well as a bid at the BCS National Championship.

That said, nothing is certain and both their strengths and weaknesses will help determine the final outcome of the season.

2012 will be one hell of a ride.

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About Chris Anderson

NWSB Editor. Chris hails from Eugene, Oregon; home of the Fighting Ducks. If he is not viewing, writing about, or attending sporting events, Chris is running on the trails Eugene offers or out-and-about. Aspirations to exceed expectations. Connect w/ Chris today!
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  • Northwest Native

    Cant really see the ducks getting past USC so this article is a moot point.

  • Bo

    Dewitt Stuckey graduated not sure how u missed that

    • Chris Anderson

      I actually missed that, sorry.

      I saw him here around Eugene and on campus the other day so for some reason thought he was still playing.

      Thanks for the heads up

  • BleedYellOGreeN

    Please….Hype, Hype out of USC. We will see when the time comes. The last 2 yrs each team has beaten the other. It will be a good contest and USC better be healthy because they can not afford to take any injuries. As far as strength of schedule come on now. Look who the SEC schools play for their easy wins. Why does the Ducks have to go out of their way to find heavy hitters when the other “elite’ teams don’t. That’s just a crock! It’s all bias against West Coast teams. We have to schedule top 25 teams as out of conference games to gain respect is rediculous. Catch up East Coast peeps. The Pac 12 is and always was here. Respect that. Oh and Oregon is THE ONLY college to go to 3 straight BCS games. How is that for some respect!!!

    • Chris Anderson

      Good comment.

      The Ducks are quite the football program and have proven in the past few years that they can play football with the best of teams.

      However, with the SEC strength of schedule, a lot of that strength comes from within the conference, with just about every team (except Ole Miss and Vandy) really having a shot at the SEC Title year-in and year-out.

      I know it sucks to be here on the west coast and underappreciated, but it’s an unfortunate consequence of the fact that our football teams can only have 2-4 good teams at a time while the SEC has a loaded conference.

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