Never has there been so many questions, so many things to be excited for, so many things to hope for...
The 2009 Oregon Ducks looked more pumped then ever, with talent that I haven't seen since 2001.
I know what you are thinking about though, what about 2007? Did anyone honestly think that Dennis Dixon would come from sharing half the snaps with Brady Leaf to lead an offense which was a top 5 offense on a BCS run? Niether did I.
But these guys we have now two years later have the juice. They've shown they can do it, they have more heart then most football teams. Here is what I think the Oregon Ducks can get done this year and a look in on the talent they have.
Key PlayersJeremiah Masoli - This man holds our season, defense aside our offense will crumble if he doesn't perfrom to his hype (see Boise St. game last year). I think he is what he's hyped up to be though. I hate to say it becauce I hold Dixon close to my heart, but I honestly think Masoli has more talent on both the running and passing dimensions of the game. Though I don't think he had the motivation and feel for his team like Dixon had, but I think he can acheive that this season. He could develop the talent of Tim Tebow by the end of his senior year, not to the degree Tebow has, but I think of the same talent. They do have similar styles. If Masoli doesn't get injured and lives up to the hype I see Oregon going undefeated.
LaGarette Blount - Blount, I hate to say it, but where's the heart? Blount has so much potential, and even though he has performed for Oregon, I don't think he has lived up to what he can become. This guy is a beast, if he comes out this year and works is toughest on every play and pushes himself to the limit, I see a great back this year. Not in the same degree as Masoli, but I can see him as the second best RB in the Pac-10 behind Best.
Ed Dickson - What more can I say? NFL bound TE who has consistantly put up great numbers since he stepped on the field. This guy is a team leader and motivator.
Walter Thurmond - This guy is an absolute beast, if I was a WR playing against Thurmond I'd be scared out of my mind. Thurmond could potentially be the best corner in College Football, he is a great leader and will help take care of half the field.
Will Tukuafu - The D-line needs experiance, he gives that experiance and some, if he can help the other's on the line we will be more then set on defense.
Biggest QuestionHow Will the Lines Recover?
Losing Max Unger and Nick Reed was a hit, but the Ducks have refueled quickly. The offensive line will be great as they have for the past couple years, but the only problem will be the consistancy of center Jordan Holmes. His snaps have not been consistant, we need to have that Max Unger consistancy, we can't make mistakes like bad snaps that can cause turnovers.
Defensively is where I don't know what will happen, we will learn alot when the Boise Game comes around.
Offensive OutlookThe offense looks great, really great. Finally we have receivers that don't drop the ball and these guys are fast. Tyrece Gaines is a face we haven't really seen yet, but this guy is something else, he is fast, ferocious and catches almost everything thrown at him. Jamere Holland is a solid guy who leads the receivers, he will continue to impress. Then fast transfer from USC Jeffrey Maehl will factor in., for me he'll have to improve his catching to match the speed, but he could end up being the guy Jordan Kent was, the unexpected guy that just magically appeared down field.
On the backfield side we've already discussed Masoli and Blount, I want to talk about LaMichael James. I love this guy, he's small, but fast. Faster then Johnson, probably one of the fastest backs we have.He runs a 4.4 40 and is elusive at the line. Kind of like Jaquizz Rodgers, James can just magically get through the lines and speed towards the inzone. This guy will be a great sidekick to Blount.
Defensive OutlookTake a deep breath, the defense will be better then last season. With 111th ranked passing defense last year I think we have room to improve. I think we have the talent to improve...ALOT. Walter Thurmond will take care of half the field on the DB side. Returner T.J. Ward will help him. Though we have some new starters they are experianced starters, Talmadge Jackson is a great asset.
The LB's are probably the fastest, toughest LB's we have. This will help us so much, we haven't really felt what it feels like to have good LB's, but I'm sure it's great, this will really help out the inexperianced D-line alot. The defense will be the key to the season, I think we have what it takes.
Predictions@Boise St. - Oregon wins 42-21, Listen I know what you are thinking, but just hear me out. Oregon's offense is going to score, Boise St. will not be able to stop that. It's all up to the defense. The defense will have improved, they can defend the pass now, the D-line just has to learn the game fast and we stop Boise St. and hold them to 3 TD's.
vs. Purdue - Oregon wins 52-3 This game will not be like last season, it will be easy. Purdue is a weak Big 10 team now. Our offense should just boost some stats on this game.
vs. Utah - Oregon wins 38-17, I know that Utah beat Alabama last season, but they lost alot of talent, alot. Will they recover? I don't believe so, and Utah will come to the Zoo, it could end up being close, but I don't believe so.
vs. Cal - Oregon wins 42-35 This is the game that I'm excited for. This should end up being like 2007 all over again. Cal has an easy OOC so they should 3-0 like us when they come to Eugene. Cal is ranked above us so it will be just like last time they came, except this time Oregon will take it. Oregon will not let Cal beat us a fourth time in the row. If we stop Jahvid Best Cal will have nothing to turn to.
vs. Washington St. - Oregon wins 63-3, once again Wazzu is not good enough to even contend, we've been thorough the same old dance.
@UCLA - Oregon wins 35-31, don't take UCLA lightly now, they have a more improved team then last season and they almost beat us, although we have improved to this game could be a stumbling block.
@Washington - Oregon wins 42-21, Washington will put up more points then last time, but they still aren't the same team they used to be.
vs. USC - ???? Halloween night, this could be the biggest game of the season for the Ducks, this game could go either way, which is why I will not tough it untill the week before they play.
@Stanford - Oregon wins 49-28 Stanford is the darkhorse in the Pac-10, they could put up a big fight, Oregon will just outscore them though.
vs.Arizona St. - Oregon wins 52-14 Remember 2006? The domination Oregon handed to ASU? Expect that on a greater margin.
@Arizona - Oregon wins 35-20, I don't like going to Arizona, the last 2 times we went there they injured our QB. It's not a great place for me, I don't expect the same outcome, but I won't overlook them ever.
vs. Oregon St. - Oregon wins 42-38, We stole their Rose Bowl hopes, they could steal ours, Civil War is never certain, anything can happen, I just hope for a Duck win.
So what can happen this season? The least I see the Ducks at is the Holiday Bowl, which means that we can see some great things this season. Our bowl game could be a BCS, If the Ducks beat USC and go undefeated it will be NC bound. Ducks just need to play every play and give it their all.
The 2007 team shouldn't have gone as far as they almost did, the one thing they had was heart.
Heart will decide the 2009 season.
Hopefully it will lead them to the first NC in Duck history.