Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

FBS Preseason Top 10 Countdown: No. 4

The Pac-12 finally receives its first representative in my FBS Preseason Top 10 countdown as the Oregon Ducks come in at No. 4:

4. Oregon Ducks

2011 Record: 12-2 (8-1 Pac-12)

Bowl Game: Def. Wisconsin 45-38 in Rose Bowl

Overview: Ever since Chip Kelly took the reins of the Oregon program, the Ducks have been on the national radar. Kelly’s spread offense attack has been successful since his days as offensive coordinator with the Ducks, and it is the driving force behind Oregon’s success. In 2012 Oregon will be looking to win the Pac-12 for the fourth straight year and to book a trip to their fourth straight BCS game. While the team has lost running back LaMichael James and starting quarterback Darron Thomas to the NFL, Kelly’s offense has the potential to be as explosive as ever with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas in the backfield. The game on the schedule that looms the largest is the November 3, contest at USC, a game that could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship game.


Offensive Player(s) to Watch: Kenjon Barner (Senior) – Running Back/De’Anthony Thomas (Sophomore) – Running Back

When a team loses a star caliber player like LaMichael James, it’s hard to imagine them reloading so quickly, but that is just what Oregon is doing. Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas are dual speedsters that will give opposing defenses fits when they are on the field. While Barner is more of the home-run threat, Thomas is the more versatile of the two. These two used together have the potential to give defensive coordinators headaches and I fully expect coach Chip Kelly to draw up some extravagant plays for these two. The duo combined for 18 rushing touchdowns and over 1,500 rushing yards last year and with the departure of James everyone should expect those numbers to increase.

Defensive Player to Watch: Dion Jordan (Senior) – Defensive End

While Oregon’s defense is usually seen as average, the Ducks’ defensive line’s ability to rush the passer is what stands out. In past years this unit has been great at rushing the quarterback, last year in particular as they were able to rack up 45 sacks. That sack total was thanks in no small part to defensive end Dion Jordan. The then-junior recorded a team-high 7.5 sacks and 42 tackles (13 tackles for loss) on his way to All-Pac-12 first team honors. Jordan is seen as the Ducks’ top prospect for the 2013 NFL draft and has been named to watch lists for defensive player of the year awards such as the Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

Key Games: November 3 @ USC, November 17 vs. Stanford, November 24 @ Oregon State

2012 Prediction: 11-1 (8-1 Pac-12)

Wins: Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech, Arizona, Washington State, Washington, Arizona State, Colorado, California, Stanford, Oregon State

Losses: USC

Greg Romagna can be reached at [email protected].

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