In only four short years Chip Kelly has lead the Oregon Ducks to three straight Pac 10 Titles, 3 consecutive BCS Bowl Appearances, and 1 National Championship appearance. The excitement and the momentum caused by the endless uniform combinations and a potent scoring offense has made the Ducks an elite program that has attracted fans and recruits from all over the country.
Although the Ducks lose two starters in their backfield in Darron Thomas at quarterback and NCAA leading rusher LeMichael James the firepower that they return on offense and the ever improving defense led by longtime Defensive Coordinator Nick Alotti has many fans in Eugene dreaming of playing for a BCS National Championship in Miami, Florida on January 7th.
The offense is loaded with undersized mighty mites who make up for their lack of size with blazing speed and motors that frequently outwork and out-hussle their bigger and stronger NFL-bound opposition. Despite having to replace their entire backfield the cupboard is far from bare with a stable of running backs and quarterbacks anxious to be featured and lead this exciting offense.
Although the starter at quarterback has yet to be announced many expect red-shirt freshman Marcus Mariota to lead the Ducks due to impressive performance in the spring which conjured memories of former Heisman finalist and star quarterback Dennis Dixon. Whoever Chip Kelly chooses to lead will have a bevy of thoroughbreds like senior running back Kenjon Barner and rb/wr DeAnthony “Black Mamba” Thomas to rely on for big plays and touchdowns. Lost in the bevy of excitement about the stars who will garner post season honors is the major concerns that exist along their offensive line. Lineman rarely make the highlight reels but their play this season will dictate the direction of the Duck offense.
On defense longtime Defensive Coordinator Nick Alotti has been blessed with a number of toys to work with. For years the Duck defenders were undersized and were often a step too slow. However the success of the team has attracted the attention of premiere recruits on the defensive side of the ball which has made wreaking havoc that much easier. The defense is led by Kiki Alonso and Dion Jordan at linebacker who both had breakout performances in last years Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. The secondary is paced by Terrance Mitchell at cornerback and likely All-American candidate Josh Boyett at safety. Although the defense still remains thin along the defensive line the experience in the defensive backfield will make quarterbacks think twice before airing it out.
Expectation in Oregon cannot get any higher and many pundits believe it is only a matter of time before the Sears National Championship Trophy finds a home in Eugene,Oregon. There was a time when Oregon was only known for their uniforms and its most prominent booster NIKE founder Phil Knight. However, those time are no more and dreams of dominance on the football field have become their new reality. Will the Ducks live up to preseason expectations? Will the Ducks mascot top 3,000 push-ups this season? Stay tuned… I know I will – (follow me on twitter @eatdrnkslpsprtz)