#26 Oregon Football 2017 Preview


Oregon Ducks


Overall Rank: #26

#5 Pac-12

Following a disappointing 4-8 season, Oregon fired Mark Helfrich and brought in Willie Taggart. He was the head man at Western Kentucky and South Florida before taking the Oregon job. The Pac-12 North will be extremely difficult this year and the Ducks will need some time to adjust to the new coaching staff, but expect massive improvement in the win the column in 2017.
2016 Record: 4-8, 2-7
2016 Bowl: None
Coach: Willie Taggart (0-0 at Oregon, 40-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mario Cristobal, Marcus Arroyo
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leavitt
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Royce Freeman, RB, 945 yards
Passing: Justin Herbert, QB, 1,936 yards
Receiving: Charles Nelson, WR, 554 yards
Tackles: Troy Dye, LB, 91
Sacks: Troy Dye, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: Brenden Schooler, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Tony Brooks-James, LB Jimmie Swain, S Tyree Robinson, LB Justin Hollins, CB Arrion Springs, CB Ugo Amadi, K Aidan Schneider
Key Losses: QB Dakota Prukop, WR Darren Carrington, TE Pharaoh Brown, TE Johnny Mundt, LB Johnny Ragin
The offense will not have a problem scoring points. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions as a freshman last year. Dakota Prukop began last season as the starter and prior to that it was another FCS transfer, Vernon Adams, that led the Oregon offense. Now the Ducks finally have stability under center and Herbert is brimming with potential and promise. There are some holes to fill at wide receiver and depth could become an issue, but Charles Nelson is back. He caught 52 passes for 554 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. Youngsters like Dillon Mitchell, Alfonso Cobb, Darrian McNeal, Malik Lovette and tight end Jacob Breeland will have to get involved early and often. There is much more proven talent at running back, starting with Royce Freeman. He rushed for 945 yards and nine scores in 2016 and speedster Tony Brooks-James added 771 yards and nine more touchdowns. They should both push for 1,000 yards again behind an offensive line that started four freshmen a year ago.
The defense was the problem last year. The Ducks allowed 41.4 points per game and even their potent offense could not keep up that pace. The three man front line got a huge boost when Scott Pagano came from Clemson as a graduate transfer. Jalen Jenks, Henry Mondeaux and Gary Baker have some experience too. Troy Dye will move into one of the middle linebacker spots after tallying 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks as a freshman. The pass rush from the outside linebackers will have to come from Jonah Moi, Fotu Leiato and Jimmie Swain. The secondary has some experience, most notably with Arrion Springs, Ugo Amadi, Tyree Robinson and Brenden Schooler. However, there are a lot of talented freshmen in the secondary who will push for starting jobs.
The Bottom Line:
The offense should improve and be one of the best in the country after slipping, by Oregon standards at least, last season. That alone should be enough to get the Ducks to a bowl game. However, the defense is where the bigger questions remain. If the new staff can quickly turn the unit into something halfway decent, Oregon will be a dangerous team that will compete with the best the Pac-12 has to offer. Trips to Stanford, UCLA and Washington will probably keep the Ducks out of the North title chase, but this group has the potential to win eight or nine games and start the Coach Taggart era out on a high note.
Projected Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 226.4 (27th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 265.3 (31, 5)
Total Offense: 491.7 (15, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.4 (27, 4)
Rushing Defense: 246.5 (121, 11)
Pass Defense: 271.9 (113, 10)
Total Defense: 518.4 (126, 11)
Scoring Defense: 41.4 (126, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.25 (85, 10)
Sacks: 2.08 (61, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.42 (91, 10)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#87 Royce Freeman
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#103 Thomas Graham
#120 Deommodore Lenoir
#194 Jaylon Redd
#288 Braxton Burmeister