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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #15 Oregon

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 8, 2016

#15 Oregon Ducks

2015 Recap:
It was a very inconsistent year for the Ducks as they lost their Bowl game as TCU clawed back for a 47-41 OT win in the Alamo Bowl. While 4 losses seems like a lot for the Oregon program the losses all came against quality schools (Michigan State, Utah, and Washington State and TCU both in OT). Oregon was also hit hard with injuries and we saw more uncertainty at the quarterback position then we can remember in a long time.


Coaching:
Mark Helfrich is 33-8 in his 3 seasons after replacing Chip Kelly at Oregon. While 33-8 seems fantastic there are some calling for his head even though this is a team that was playing for the National Title just two years ago. The fourth year always seems to be a great gauge to see where a team stands with a coaching regime in their conference so Helfrich needs to come up big to silence some of the detractors.


Offense

We have already made numerous mentions of the inconsistent quarterback play and after a year of Vernon Adams a new quarterback will be at the helm in 2016. Adams came to Oregon from the FCS ranks (Eastern Washington) and the same will happen this year with Dakota Prukop (Montana State). Adams could move around the pocket but didn't have the pure rushing ability Prukop offers, though Adams was a better thrower. There are receiving targets as Darren Carrington returns from injury and Charles Rogers and Dwayne Stanford offer big play ability. It will be interesting to see if Pharoah Brown is able to continbute as the tight end comes off a gruesome leg injury. Before going down Brown flashed NFL ability and was the ultimate secret weapon for the Ducks. Royce Freeman will be the offensive catalyst and he is not only an excellent runner, he can be split out as a receiver in a number of formations. Tyrell Crosby leads a line that shows some potential and showed signs of turning the corner late in 2015.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Royce Freeman RB 2nd Round 2017 (Early Declaration).

                                       Tyrell Crosby OT 4th Round 2018.


Defense

Oregon has run the 3-4 formation for years but they will be abondaning this and going to a more traditional 4-3. Not to mention, with all the passing i the Pac-12 look for some 4-2-5 looks with extra help in the secondary. Henry Mondeaux seems better equipped to handle the new 4-3 and he shows as much upside as players that have went before him along the line like Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner (both of which who went to the NFL highly overrated if you ask us).  Quarterback is not the only spot Oregon will be relying on transfers to contribute. Two starting linebackers (A.J. Hatchkins and Jonah Moi) are over from the JUCO ranks. The secondary is the area where Oregon has the most returning talent and playmakers. Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels are capable safeties and Arrion Springs is one of the conferences better cornerbacks that seems to fly under the radar unnoticed. 

Best Draft Prospects: Tyree Robinson S 3rd Round 2018.

                                      Henry Mondeaux DT 2nd Round 2018.


Special Teams:

What kicker Aidan Schneider lacks in leg strength he more ten makes up for in the accuracy department after going 22-24 in field goals and a perfect 67-67 in PATs. Ian Wheeler has batled inconsistency as a punter but he has improved his directional punting and placement. Charles Nelson is a deadly return man and he should serve as the primary returner on kickoffs and punts.


Schedule:

Most of the tougher games for Oregon come at home and the Ducks have a very manageable non-conference schedule with Virginia and Nebraska both looking like winnable games. Utah and Oregon State will be the final two games and will be on the road, we have seen Oregon lay some eggs late in the year before.



Draft and Overall Outlook:

We are starting to get to the point where Helfrich truly has his stamp on the team and the recruiting classes. The next two seasons will be crucial to seeing just how the long term state of Oregon football fares. The outlook can be very positive but it all revovles around the all important quarterback position and we saw how it dogged Oregon in 2015.

DJ Boyer