Practice has begun, college football is less than a month away and we're ready. Over the next four week we'll be counting down with fan previews of the Top 25 teams as voted on by you. Up next is Oregon alumnus and All-American Autzen Stadium tailgater, Todd.
Suggested Team Slogan “Step away from the ledge, life after Dixon and Stewart will be juuuust fine.”
What was learned in 2007 Although college football is a team sport, it was amazing how much of an impact one person had on the field for the Oregon Ducks. That person was obviously former quarterback Dennis Dixon. Had Dixon stayed healthy, I truly believe the Ducks would’ve been hoisting their first national championship trophy in the Casanova Center in Eugene. I think ESPN’s College Gameday sensed that too (twice last season), but it just wasn’t to be. And, with injuries mounting by last November, the loss of Dixon (along with other key playmakers) was too much to overcome. The final month of the season was not kind to Oregon, as it was down to fourth-string QB Justin Roper to attempt to salvage the Ducks’ fading record and ranking. Roper (and former RB Jonathan Stewart) did manage, though, to lull a cocky South Florida team to sleep and trounce the Bulls, as Oregon set several Sun Bowl records that New Year’s Eve day in 2007.
Expectations in '08 Although Dixon and Stewart are now on to the NFL, many doubt that Oregon will do much to oust USC from getting another Pac-10 title. I can’t say that the Ducks will be the ones to upend the Trojans in 2008 either, but it doesn’t seem as bleak for Oregon as many prognosticators believe. Yes, there is a small issue of replacing Dixon and Stewart, but top quarterback Nate Costa is fully recovered from his ACL tear of last year, and in fall camp, Costa is well ahead of Sun Bowl hero Roper. Running back will also be taken care of, as RB Jeremiah Johnson is also healed (and in much better shape) from his ACL injury. Along with bruiser JC transfer-RB LaGarrette Blount, the running game should still hum, while the passing game and no-huddle play calling get situated for the rest of the season. Since Oregon features a potentially all-Pac offensive line and defensive secondary, along with a diverse spread offense that matches the playbook to the existing talent level, the Ducks could be a better overall team this year.
What will keep them from fulfilling expectation? ...the schedule and the Duck defensive line. Yes, the Ducks do have a knack for stopping plays deep into the red zone, but can they stop anyone on third and two or fourth and short yardage situations? Plus, Oregon plays all their toughest contests on the road… at Purdue, at USC, at Arizona State, at California, and at Oregon State.
Big Men on Campus Where do I start? All these guys could go on to have an outstanding year, and probably will. Several of these guys have been put on some of the “all-everything” award watch lists out there for the end of the year: WR Jaison Williams, RB Jeremiah Johnson, LT Fenuki Tupou, C Max Unger, TE Ed Dickson, DE Nick Reed, DE Will Tukuafu, LB Casey Matthews, LB Jerome Boyd, CB Jairus Byrd, CB Walter Thurmond III, ROV Patrick Chung, and P Josh Syria.
Cheerleader Grade: I’m going to be incredibly biased here, but CriticalFanatic should back me up personally on this one… A++.
What can I say? The Oregon Cheerleaders are beautiful, sexy, and they can really work a crowd.
Schedule and Predictions 10-2 (7-2 Pac-10) in 2008
Aug. 30 vs. Washington (Win)
Sept. 6 vs. Utah State (Win)
Sept. 13 at Purdue (Win)
Sept. 20 vs. Boise State (Win)
Sept. 27 at Washington State (Win)
Oct. 4 at USC (Loss)
Oct. 11 vs. UCLA (Win)
Oct. 25 at Arizona State (Loss)
Nov. 1 at California (Win)
Nov. 8 vs. Stanford (Win)
Nov. 15 vs. Arizona (Win)
Nov. 29 at Oregon State (Win)
Your thoughts and predictions?