2009 Oregon Ducks Football Preview
2008 Record: (10-3, 7-2)
2008 Bowl: Holiday Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (W 42-31)
Coach: Chip Kelly (First year at Oregon, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chip Kelly
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Aliotti
Other Key Returnees: OT C.E. Kaiser, WR Jeff Maehl, LB Casey Matthews, LB Spencer Paysinger, G Bo Thran
Key Losses: LB Jerome Boyd, CB Jairus Byrd, S Patrick Chung, DT Ra’Shon Harris, RB Jeremiah Johnson, G Mark Lewis, DT Cole Linehan, DE Nick Reed, QB Justin Roper, WR Terence Scott, OT Fenuki Tupou, C Max Unger, WR Jaison Williams
Last year Chip Kelly was the offensive coordinator under former head coach Mike Bellotti. Under Kelly’s tutelage, Oregon led the Pac-10 with 484.85 yards of total offense and an impressive 41.92 points per game. Bellotti then moved to the front office to become the schools athletic director and Oregon quickly secured Kelly as their new head man. With defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti returning, the coaching transition should be extremely smooth.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli came on very strong at the end of the 2008 campaign and pretty much turned a questionable quarterback situation into the team’s biggest strength. On the year Masoli threw for 1,744 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for another 718 yards and ten trips to the end zone. Running backs Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount both eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark last season and Blount is back to help keep the Ducks offense moving. Finding some consistent receivers besides tight end Ed Dickson would help make the offense even better. Terence Scott and Jaison Williams are gone and that leaves a big hole that Jeff Maehl cannot fill on his own.
Somehow the Oregon defense ranked last in the conference and 111 th in the nation in pass defense, and that was with corner Jairus Byrd and rover Patrick Chung. Those two will be playing on Sundays this year. It is not like Walter Thurmond III and T.J. Ward are bad players who brought down the secondary. Thurmond and Ward, even without Byrd and Chung, should form a solid secondary, but the group was torched last year and there is little reason to think it will get any better this time around. And considering the opposing quarterback rarely had time to throw the ball, it makes the play of the secondary even more baffling. As long as Will Tukuafu continues to get into the backfield, the Ducks will continue to tally quite a few sacks. Linebackers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger are two of the five returning starters and those two should help keep things relatively under control and keep the Oregon defense at least half way decent.
The Bottom Line for the Ducks:
No team in the Pac-10 returns fewer starters than Oregon. The Ducks have some solid players to build around, but both lines are in dire need of some rebuilding. Masoli and Blount need room to operate and that might not be easy without center Max Unger and tackle Fenuki Tupou. The line on the other side of the ball is equally decimated and Coach Kelly needs to find some new bodies to clog the line or the Ducks defense will be worse than they were last year…and that was pretty bad.
By Joel Welser
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