Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #21

#21.) Oregon

What You Need to Know: The offseason of 2008 has been a tumultuous one for Oregon and their fans. The good news is that head man Mike Bellotti returned as the ducks coach, increasing his salary to just a shade under 2 million per. They have become a consistent winner under Bellotti, going to 11 bowls in 13 seasons and making him the winningest coach in school history.

That's about where the good news stops. Following the departure of QB Dennis Dixon the program dealt with the death of freshman Todd Doxey and the indefinite suspension of LB Kevin Garrett for violation of team rules. There are holes to fill all over the field, but the Ducks do have 51 returning lettermen, a strong defense, and a relatively weak schedule in the early part of the season. The young Ducks and lack of depth will have a chance to develop before critical road games late in the season at USC, Cal, and Arizona State.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
WR Jaison Williams: 55 rec, 844 yds, 8 TD
CB Walter Thurmond: 5 INT, 76 tackles
CB Jairus Byrd: 7 INT, 3 forced fumbles

Game To Watch: The Ducks only test early will be at Purdue on Sep. 13. If the Ducks hope to contend for a longshot Pac10 title, they must win at least one of the road contests against either USC (10/4) or Airzona State (10/25)

They'll Do Well If...: The Ducks keep a thin team healthy. An injury to a thin offensive line and/or Williams could mean the difference between 8 wins and 5.

Season Outlook: Replacing All-Conference performers Dixon and RB Jonathon Stewart is a challenge anytime. Added in with the complications of a team death and a suspension and Oregon's season rides on building momentum early against weaker teams. With the right mix of momentum and luck, the Ducks should finish third in the Pac10 and compete for a berth in the Sun Bowl.

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