#17 Oregon Football 2016 Preview

Oregon Ducks
Overall Rank: #17
#3 Pac-12
By Oregon’s recent standards, winning nine games is a disappointment. The previous seven seasons the Ducks had won at least ten games. Still, the schedule was pretty tough and losing at Michigan State by three points and to TCU in the Alamo Bowl by six are not bad losses. Coach Mark Helfrich hopes to compete for a Pac-12 title and perhaps more again this year.
2015 Record: 9-4, 7-2
2015 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. TCU (L 41-47)
Coach: Mark Helfrich (33-8 at Oregon, 33-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Lubrick
Defensive Coordinator: Brady Hoke
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Royce Freeman, RB, 1,836 yards
Passing: Jeff Lockie, QB, 580 yards
Receiving: Darren Carrington, WR, 609 yards
Tackles: Tyree Robinson, CB, 64
Sacks: Henry Mondeaux, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Tyree Robinson, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Taj Griffin, WR Dwayne Stanford, TE Evan Baylis, S Reggie Daniels, DE Torrodney Prevot, CB Arrion Springs, K Aidan Schneider
Key Losses: QB Vernon Adams, WR Bralon Addison, OL Tyler Johnstone, DE DeForest Buckner, LB Joe Walker, LB Rodney Hardrick, LB Tyson Coleman
As usual, Oregon is going to do it with their offense. Vernon Adams is gone after his one year in the program, but the Ducks went out and poached another great FCS quarterback out of the Big Sky. This time it is Montana State’s Dakota Prukop who will come in and lead the team for a season. He may not be as proven of a passer as Adams was when he came to Eugene, but Prukop can do damage with his legs too. Prukop should have plenty of weapons to work with even though Bralon Addison left after catching a team high 63 passes for 804 yards and ten touchdowns. Darren Carrington is a big play receiver. He only played seven games last season, but caught 32 passes for 609 yards and six touchdowns. Charles Nelson figures to play a bigger role this year too and the hope is tight end Pharaoh Brown can come back at full strength after missing the 2015 campaign with an injury. Royce Freeman is one of the best running backs in the country and the Ducks can rely on him as much as needed while the passing game adjusts to Prukop. He rushed for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2015 and is poised for an even bigger 2016 season.
Oregon ranked 12th in the Pac-12 in total defense and scoring defense last season, but new coordinator Brady Hoke hopes to fix that. The new Ducks defense will be a 4-3 scheme that wants to be aggressive. DeForest Buckner will be missed after tallying 10.5 sacks and 83 total tackles and the new look line will have to build around Henry Mondeaux, who recorded 4.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles-for-loss in 2015. Former linebackers like Torrodney Prevot and Justin Hollins will likely spend most of their time at the end spot this year to help fill in on the line. A lot of pressure will be on junior college transfers A.J. Hotchkins and Jonah Moi to solidify the linebacker corps. The secondary returns intact, except for the fact that Charles Nelson will spend more time at receiver and less time on defense. But that may not be a good thing since the unit ranked 125th in the country in pass defense, allowing 306.5 yards per game. Junior cornerbacks Arrion Springs and Tyree Robinson will have to use their experience to have better seasons.
The Bottom Line:
According to many, Stanford and Washington are the teams to beat in the Pac-12 North. Both of those programs have to come to Oregon though and playing in Eugene is never easy. Thus, do not count out the Ducks yet. The defense has to get better under the new regime, and quickly, and Prukop must be ready to take over as much as Adams was last year, but this is an Oregon team that can win the tough Pac-12 North.
Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 279.9 (5th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 258.3 (36, 7)
Total Offense: 538.2 (5, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.0 (5, 1)
Rushing Defense: 178.8 (73, 6)
Pass Defense: 306.5 (125, 11)
Total Defense: 485.3 (116, 12)
Scoring Defense: 37.5 (115, 12)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (34, 3)
Sacks: 2.92 (9, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (111, 9)
Madness 2017 NFL Draft Rankings:
#50 Darren Carrington
#65 Royce Freeman
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#111 Dillon Mitchell
#156 Tristen Wallace
#180 Terry Wilson
#246 Brady Breeze