#25 Oregon 2018 Football Preview

Oregon Ducks
Overall Rank: #25
#4 Pac-12
 Oregon Logo
Mario Cristobal takes over the Oregon program after Willie Taggart left for Florida State. Coach Cristobal spent just one season on Taggart’s staff, but he has some head coaching experience at Florida International. The Ducks have had three head coaches in three years and finding some consistency will be important. In this case, Oregon does not have to learn an entirely new system so there are hopes for improving on their 7-6 record from 2017.
2017 Record: 7-6, 4-5
2017 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State (L 28-38)
Coach: Mario Cristobal (0-0 at Oregon, 27-48 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Marcus Arroyo
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leavitt
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tony Brooks-James, RB, 498 yards
Passing: Justin Herbert, QB, 1,983 yards
Receiving: Dillon Mitchell, WR, 517 yards
Tackles: Troy Dye, LB, 107
Sacks: Jalen Jelks, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Thomas Graham, CB, 3; Ugo Amadi, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: TE Jacob Breeland, WR Johnny Johnson, OL Jake Hanson, OL Calvin Throckmorton, LB Justin Hollins, LB La’Mar Winston
Key Losses: RB Royce Freeman, RB Kani Benoit, WR Charles Nelson, OL Tyrell Crosby, DE Henry Mondeaux, LB Jimmie Swain, CB Aaron Springs, S Tyree Robinson
Much of the expectations for Oregon come because of quarterback Justin Herbert. As a sophomore last year, Herbert threw for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding five more scores on the ground. And that was despite missing some time with an injury. When Herbert was healthy, Oregon went 6-1 and was electric offensively. If the 6-6 junior stays healthy, the Ducks will be tough to contain. Dillon Mitchell, Johnny Johnson and Brenden Schooler are all experienced wide receivers and tight end Jacob Breeland adds another dimension to the offense. The potential problem on offense is replacing running back Royce Freeman, who rushed for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns during his senior season. Tony Brooks-James, who rushed for 498 yards as a junior, will look to replace Freeman and should be a quality back behind an experienced offensive line.
The Ducks defense improved dramatically under coordinator Jim Leavitt. They ranked second in the Pac-12 in rush defense and fourth in total defense. Compared to 2016, those are great numbers. The front three will be very good with nose guard Jordon Scott flanked by Jalen Jelks and Austin Faoliu. Jelks led the team with 6.5 sacks and outside linebackers Justin Hollins and La’Mar Winston can get to the quarterback as well. Troy Dye will be the leader of the linebackers after tallying 107 tackles in 2017. Ugochukwu Amadi is making the move to safety from cornerback. That adds some experience at safety, but leaves some questions at cornerback. Sophomores Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir both played well last season, but will have to be ready to take on some great receivers in the Pac-12.
The Bottom Line:
This year Oregon should have a little time to get things rolling. Their non-conference schedule includes home dates with Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State in early September. That should give the Ducks the opportunity to sort out a few things before Stanford comes to Eugene on September 22nd. If all goes as planned, Oregon will compete for a Pac-12 North title and Herbert will be in the mix for the Heisman Trophy.
Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 251.0 (12th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 189.9 (94, 10)
Total Offense: 440.9 (30, 4)
Scoring Offense: 36.0 (18, 3)
Rushing Defense: 128.5 (25, 2)
Pass Defense: 240.6 (89, 8)
Total Defense: 369.2 (46, 4)
Scoring Defense: 29.0 (81, 8)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (64, 7)
Sacks: 2.54 (28, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (54, 5)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#5 Justin Herbert
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#68 Penei Sewell
#88 Jalen Hall
#112 Steve Stephens
#159 Tyler Shough
#167 Adrian Jackson
#186 Dawson Jaramillo
#190 Isaah Crocker
#202 Satou Sabally