Coming off of their first Rose Bowl victory since 1917, many expected the Ducks to be one of the best teams in college football as they returned a slough of players on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball while also adding lots of young and fresh talent to an already loaded roster.
After finishing the first stretch of the season with a perfect 5-0 record that included more than a few blowout victories, the Ducks now find themselves sitting in the No. 2 position in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, a position that many thought would belong to LSU or USC.
Much of the reason the Ducks find themselves in this position is because of players that have done more than enough to elevate Oregon past powerhouses such as the Trojans or Tigers.
While football is a team sport and the Oregon machine only operates through the contributions of every player working with one another, there is no denying the fact that some players have already done more than was expected of them.
On the opposite side of that argument, however, there are a few players that have not, so far, lived up to their expectations. Whether it be because of other players stepping up or being bitten by the injury bug, there are a few Ducks that have not put up the statistics many thought they would.
And so, without the need for more introduction, here are three overachievers and one underachiever for the 2012 Oregon Ducks.
Bralon Addison – Wide Receiver
Emerging as one of the standout players during fall camp, Addison has already begun to establish himself as a household name at the University of Oregon.
Though he was well-hyped heading into the 2012 college football season (especially as fall camp came to a close), there was still a lot of speculation surrounding just how explosive this young receiver could be.
And, so far, Addison has exceeded expectations.
Heading into Oregon’s contest against Washington, Addison is Oregon’s second leading receiver beyond do-it-all athlete De’Anthony Thomas. Addison has hauled in 15 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown, impressive numbers for a receiver making his first appearance in college football.
Keanon Lowe – Wide Receiver
Sticking with the wide receiving corps, Keanon Lowe has been another valuable addition for the Ducks after a year in which he did not see a lot of action on the field.
Heading into 2012, Oregon’s wide receiving corps was known to be very young but could have been argued to be composed of players like Josh Huff, Rahsaan Vaughn, and Devon Blackmon/B.J. Kelley.
It was not until fall camp that Lowe really emerged as a standout at receiver for the Ducks, impressing coaches with his drive and ability to find the open field.
In five games this season, Lowe has 12 receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown, numbers that he should be able to improve upon as he gains more experience in the Pac-12.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Defensive back
One of the questions heading into Oregon’s 2012 college football season was the ability of Oregon’s secondary to keep up with the talented quarterbacks and receivers they would face in 2012.
With Terrance Mitchell being a secondary standout already, the questions really began to revolve around whether or not Ekpre-Olomu could be a viable option at cornerback for the Ducks after rotating into games last season.
To say the least, Ekpre-Olomu has more than done his job this year.
Not only does he lead the team in passes defended (11), Ekpre-Olomu has also tallied two interceptions on the season, taking one back for a touchdown. He has essentially bolstered the Oregon defense further and given opponents yet another talented player that they have to plan around.
Ricky Heimuli – Defensive Tackle
Heading into 2012, Heimuli was expected to be a significant contributor on the Oregon defensive line after a 2011 campaign that saw him bitten by the injury bug at times.
Now healthy, Heimuli has not really put up the numbers many were expecting him to, totaling just six tackles on the season so far.
Other than Heimuli, Oregon players have really put up stellar numbers this season. Behind great production numbers from players on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the Ducks have surged to the number two spot in college football and are in the driver’s seat to compete for another BCS National Championship.