S1W0 - Ducks, Helfrich Poised For Title Run

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S1W0 - Ducks, Helfrich Poised For Title Run

Post  revospeed on Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:28 pm

EUGENE, OR - It still feels like the day after Christmas for most Duck fans. After romping around tearing open presents, enjoying the glory of four consecutive BCS bowls, and an untouchable 46-7 record, it seems as though Santa himself has vanished. Chip Kelly's brief four year stint at the University of Oregon is now over as quickly as it began as Kelly packed up and headed east for a chance to coach the Philadelphia Eagles, and to bring his high octane spread offense to the NFL.

With Kelly gone, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and the rest of the University of Oregon athletic department moved quickly to fill the vacated position. Rumors stirred throughout the country as whispers of Boise State's Chris Petersen returning to Eugene stirred up, amongst other believable coaching carousel possibilities. However, Mullens decided to stick with a tactical internal promotion, as Mark Helfrich was quickly named as Kelly's successor as Head Coach.

Helfrich has been right at the center of Oregon's renaissance era in the past half-decade. Chip Kelly brought Helfrich on as an offensive coordinator in 2009, the same year Kelly was promoted to Head Coach following the retirement of long time coach Mike Bellotti. The tandem redefined the no huddle spread offense as a run-first system, and brought Oregon to unprecedented heights. The first pinnacle of Kelly's career came in the 2011 National Title game loss to Cam Newton's Auburn Tigers, but was quickly overshadowed by winning the 2012 Rose Bowl game over Russell Wilson's Wisconsin Badgers. The Rose Bowl victory was Oregon's first since 1917.

2012 brought in new challenges for the Ducks as Kelly and Co. had to replace QB Darron Thomas, and RB LaMichael James. Darron Thomas was already the winningest QB in Oregon history going into his senior season, and the speedy LaMichael James owned most of Oregon's all-time rushing records. If you thought Oregon missed a step because of attrition, you were wrong. Enter QB Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman with little hype surrounding his name nationally. Mariota's tremendous performance in the 2012 Spring Game catapulted him to the top of the depth chart, just edging out fan-favorite Bryan Bennett for the starting spot. The "Flyin'-Hawaiian" took the nation by storm, amassing 32 TDs and 2677 yards in his debut season. The duel-threat mega-talent is looking to not only continue his success, but enter the Heisman discussion as well.

The running game didn't miss a step either. Senior Kenjon Barner was named a consensus All-American after his 1767 yard 21 TD season in 2012, while the electric De'Anthony Thomas added another 11 touchdowns on the ground, with 5 more through the air. In 2013, Oregon will boast a few options at the running back position. The speedy Junior De'Anthony Thomas is poised to be the premier back, while true Sophomore Byron Marshall and Junior Ayele Forde round out the stable. Five-star recruit Thomas Tyner will remain in the wings and redshirt his first year in the system, but expect great things from Tyner in the near future.

When it's all said and done, don't be surprised to see Mariota and DAT at the top of multiple post season awards lists.

Outside of the backfield battery, the Ducks boast an experienced offensive line, and an electric receiving corps headed by Senior receiver Josh Huff. Oregon's offense is easily the most complete unit in the conference, and will rely on balance to pave its way to a conference championship.

On the other side of the ball, Oregon's defense will need to replace several key components from their 2012 unit. First round selection Dion Jordan leaves a hole on the defensive line, and All-Conference linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso have left the linebacking corps relatively green. On the other hand, the secondary is poised to become the conference's best unit, if not the nation's best. Cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo-Ekpre Olomu are two of the nation's best, while Safety Avery Patterson will make quarterback's dread throwing deep against the Ducks this season.

Thankfully, Defensive Coordinator Nick Allioti truly did a fantastic job of ensuring each position group's second stringers got plenty of playing time in the rotation to prepare them for a starting role. DT Arik Armstead's sophomore season is poised to be a special one, as LBs Boseko Lokombo and Derrick Malone appear to be more than up to the task of filling Clay's and Alonso's shoes.

Where does the trajectory lie now? Oregon sat literally inches away from a national title bid to face then undefeated Notre Dame in 2012, before that the Ducks were a field goal away from a 'natty' bid in 2011, and in 2010, Oregon was one blade of grass away from winning a national championship in 2010. Can the Ducks finally break through and remain unblemished for an entire season? We'll find out soon enough.


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Re: S1W0 - Ducks, Helfrich Poised For Title Run

Post  laxroxtopher on Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:22 pm


Loss to Wazzu and Stanford... Holiday Bowl Twisted Evil

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