Friday, March 30, 2012


In the final piece of our 12 part early look at the 2012 schedule and the Ducks opponents, today, we move forward to the Civil War. This game made national headlines for two seasons as the Beavers entered the game with a chance at the Rose Bowl in 2008 and 2009. As the Ducks rose in national prominence, however, this game became an afterthought on the national landscape as the Ducks won easily in 2010 and last season. The Beavers will be looking for their first Civil War football win since 2007 when they defeated a Dennis Dixon-less Duck squad in two overtimes at Autzen.
What should Duck fans expect from Oregon State in 2012? Read through in this continuing series from Duck Sports Authority to find out what Oregon State might look like next season.

Sean Mannion's development and the relation to the hot seat of Mike Riley. After being thrust into an unnerving spotlight with his ascension ahead of the 2011 incumbent starter, Sean Mannion has an off-season to develop. Mannion was put in an unenviable position last season replacing Ryan Katz early in the season. His potential made him the better pick for the long term future of the Beavers, but it was a painful, at times, process as Mannion learned how to play quarterback at the Pac-12 level. With an off-season to train and study defenses 9as well as his own offense) Mannion may prove to have been an inspired choice for Mike Riley. On the other hand, if Mannion cannot make a quantum leap forward taking the Beavers to a winning record after two consecutive losing seasons, it could be the decision that brings an end to Riley's second term with his hometown Beavers.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Sean Mannion, 6-5, 218, QB; Markus Wheaton, 6-0, 178, WR; Colby Prince, 6-5, 260, TE; Malcolm Agnew, 5-8, 188, RB

Key Losses: James Rodgers, WR; Joe Halahuni, H-Back; Mike Remmers, Left Tackle; Grant Johnson, Center

Key Arrivals: Isaac Seumalo, 6-3, 280, OL, Corvallis (OR) High School

Despite leading the conference in interceptions in 2011, Mannion showed promise during his freshman season in Corvallis. His 18 interceptions were four more than the next closest in the Pac-12 (Nick Foles, 14), but Mannion still managed to complete 64.5% of his passes on 305-473 for 3328 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Beavers struggled on the offensive line with both pass protection and run blocking. Mannion was not as mobile as Katz and the poor line play made that even more clear as the Beavers gave up 27 sacks on the season.
The real struggles for Oregon State, though, came in their attempt to replace current Atlanta Falcon Jaquizz Rodgers. "Quizz," as he is affectionately known by Beaver fans, left a very large pair of shoes to fill and the running backs in 2011 were simply unable to step into that very large shadow successfully. The leading rusher in 2011 was Malcolm Agnew, a talented, but oft-injured, freshman. Agnew opened the season with a 200 yard game and finished the season with just 419 yards on 89 carries for 5 touchdowns. Jovan Stevenson, the back-up from Arizona managed just 231 yards on 56 carries.

The Beavers passing game will miss James Rodgers and Halahuni who combined for 76 catches for 786 yards and 6 touchdowns. Where the Beavers really must see improvement, though, is on an offensive line with little depth and its two best players graduated. The arrival of Seumalo, a coaches son, may help the beleaguered line. In addition, Michael Phillip who was outstanding as a freshman may be key if he can get back to his 2010 form.

Early Offense Prediction: Once a team proud of its heritage of standout running backs who rushed for 1000 yards seemingly like clockwork, the Beavers not only did not have a 1000 yard rusher in 2011, the team barely attained that mark. As a team in 2011, the Beavers averaged just 3.3 yards per carry with 318 carries for 1039 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. They were considerably better through the air, but struggled to protect the quarterback. 2012 will see some improvement in the overall offensive performance, but they will likely still struggle to run the ball, especially against the Ducks speedy defense. The Beavers will be a predominantly passing team again in 2012. Expect them to try to spread the ball around to different receivers and use screen passes to keep the Ducks off balance. The Beavers, though, just do not have the offense to sustain long drives and control the clock against the Ducks, nor do they have the speed, outside of Wheaton to beat the Ducks with consistent big plays. Yes, this Beaver offense will be improved, but not by enough to score more than 21 points.


Returning Starters: 8

Key returners: Scott Crichton, 6-3, 258, DE; Dylan Wynn, 6-2, 240, DE; Andrew Seumalo, 6-3, 281, DT; Jordan Poyer, 6-1, 190, CB; Micheal Doctor, 6-0, 222, LB

Key Losses: Kevin Frahm, DT; Lance Mitchell, Safety

Key Arrivals:Dyllon Mafi, 6-3, 215, LB, Laney (CA) C.C.; Cade Cowdin, 6-2, 230, LB College of the Desert (CA) C.C.

The Beavers gave up nearly 31 points per game in 2011 on just over 411 yards per game which is not to the standards that Beaver fans were accustomed to over the last ten to twelve years. The defense brings back most of the starters and were able to develop a little bit more depth last season. Much like offense, though, the rushing game was the Achilles heel of this unit. The Beavers defense was the worst in the conference allowing 196.8 yards per game on a generous 4.8 yards per carry.

The overall pass defense looked good on paper giving up just 214 yards per game through the air which ranked the Beavers second in the Pac-12 conference.

Unfortunately, because teams had so much success on the ground, the opponents did not need to rely much on passing. When teams did throw the ball against the Beavers, they were fairly successful as Oregon State had the 4th worst pass efficiency defense in the conference. Making matters worse, the Beavers were not able to generate much pressure on quarterbacks ranking 9th in the conference in sacks (24) and ranking dead last in turnover margin (-8) last season.

Early Defense Prediction: While a year of experience will make the defense better than 2011, there is not an infusion of young talent ready to step in and elevate this defense back to their expected prowess. However, the two defensive ends really made a name for themselves in 2011 and should be even better with another year of getting bigger and stronger. Where the Beavers will struggle is with their lack of size on the defensive line and their lack of speed at the second level of the defense. Expect the Beavers to attempt to employ a similar strategy to last season and force running plays more towards the middle of the field to limit explosion plays on the edge. To do this, the Beavers tended to use some wide splits on the defensive line which left a lot of running lanes up the middle. Expect a similar scenario to play out as the Ducks run up the middle early with second level cut-backs to get to the edge.

The Ducks will be able to move the ball well on an improving but still not there yet defense. Oregon should find themselves in scoring territory frequently and in the 37-52 point range for this game.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: Against a Beaver team which has lacked recruiting success over the last several seasons, Oregon should look to take advantage of their speed and depth edge on both sides of the ball. If the defense can keep Wheaton in front of them and not allow any big plays out of the backfield, the offense should be able to score nearly at will.

Lance Mitchell is a loss for the Beaver defense
OREGON WILL LOSE IF: This is a road game against an in-state rival. With the potential of a re-match with USC on the horizon for, at the very least, a place in the Rose Bowl, the Ducks must be careful about not looking past an inferior opponent on the road. If the Ducks are not focused on the Beavers, they could find themselves in a dogfight and on the losing end of a major upset.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Oregon State has not had much success against the Ducks over the last 4 seasons, especially on defense. Since 2008, the Ducks have scored 65, 37, 37, and 49 points against the Beavers. Expect the Ducks to still be able to score over 40 on the Beavers and extend their Civil War winning streak to 5 games.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


In this continuing series from Duck Sports Authority, we continue to take a "sneak peak" at the 2012 opponents for the Oregon Ducks. As the 2012 regular season nears its conclusion, the team Oregon has kept out of the Rose Bowl and beyond for the previous two seasons, the Stanford Cardinal, come to Autzen Stadium to face the Ducks.

Stanford has played the Ducks tough for 3 consecutive years. In 2009, the Cardinal upset the Ducks on the way to Oregon's first Rose Bowl Appearance since 1994. The following year, the Cardinal, behind the arm of two-time Heisman runner up, jumped to a big early lead before the Ducks charged back on their way to an undefeated season. The 2011 contest was close through the first half before the Ducks pulled away late.

The departure of Andrew Luck for the NFL will cause growing pains for Stnaford's offnse
Andrew Luck's departure. Andrew Luck will likely be the number one overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. While Stanford has a lot of talent in many positions, it could be argued that Luck was more valuable to Stanford than any other player in the Pac-12 to their team. His athleticism, intelligence and arm made Stanford a national title contender. His departure will reverberate through the team. This will be the season where the Pac-12 discovers just how good a coach david Shaw will be for Stanford.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Stepfan Taylor, 5-11, 210, RB; Ryan Hewitt, 6-4, 242, FB; Ty Montgomery, 6-2, 205, WR; Levine Toilolo, 6-8, 262, TE

Key Losses: Andrew Luck, QB; David DeCastro, Right Guard; Jonathan Martin, left Tackle

Key Arrivals: Kyle Murphy, 6-7, 275, OL, San Clemente (CA) High School; Barry Sanders, 5-11, 190 RB

Stanford lost the number one overall pick to the NFL with the early departure of Andrew Luck. But that is not all that the Cardinal lost from their extremely potent offense. Road graders Martin and DeCastro will be missed as much, if not more, as Luck. The Cardinal will be breaking in a very green quarterback, but will do so without their All-American linemen. That will make the job that much more difficult for the new quarterback; especially early in the season.

The likely replacement for Luck at the QB position is Brett Nottingham (6-4, 215) out of Danville, California. Notthingham saw very limited action as Luck's backup in 2011. Nottingham has great touch on this throws and throws a crisp ball. He had some problems with arm strength and will not provide the mobility of Andrew Luck. He has some talented players to work with, but there will be some holes to fill all over the offense.

In addition to losing the starting QB and two All-American type offensive linemen, the Cardinal lost their top three receivers from last season with the graduation of Griff Whalen, Chris Owusu and Coby Fleener. That leaves Hewitt as the leading returning receiver with 34 catches for 282 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Cardinal have a capable replacement for Fleener with the athletic Toilolo who managed 25 receptions for 343 yards and 6 touchdowns last season as a backup to Fleener.

Early Offense Prediction: Expect the Stanford offense to revert to the running game just a bot more in 2012. The loss of a quarterback who could have been playing in the NFL last season will cause the passing game to take a step back. Throw in the loss of two top linemen and you have arecipe for running the ball more. On offense, the run game may be even more dynamic if Sanders can come in and contribute early. He could be their most explosive offensive player in 2012. The loss of Whalen and Owusu will hurt their wide receiver corps, but Montgomery has the ability to become a nice deep threat for the Cardinal.

Nonetheless, with the change on offense, and the improvement of the Oregon defense, do not expect Stanford to put up the same kind of yardage in 2012 as they have over the course of the previous three games. Stanford will have a good run game and attempt to control the clock against the Ducks, but they will likely score somewhere in the 21-28 point range in this game.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Chase Thomas, 6-4, 240, LB; Ben Gardner, 6-4, 273, DE

Key Losses: Matt Masifilo, DE; Delano Howell, Strong Safety; Michael Thomas, Free Safety

Key Arrivals: Aziz Shittu, 6-3, 275, DE, Buhach (Atwater, CA) High School

Stanford has a good corps of their solid defense back in 2012. Chase Thomas may be the most important of the returners for the Cardinal. All Thomas did last season was lead the conference in tackles for loss with 17.5 to go along with his 52 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and 4 QB hurries. With the return of Shane Skov from injury, the Cardinal will have some depth built in as the entire linebacker corps returns in 2012. The defensive line takes a hit with the loss of Masifilo, but the rest of the defensive line remains intact from the 2011 season.

The biggest area of concern for the Stanford defense will be in the defensive backfield as three of the four starters from 2011 have graduated leaving the Cardinal thin on experience in the secondary.

One thing that the Cardinal has not yet addressed that will be a big concern against teams like the Ducks; speed. Stanford plays a 3-4 defense and all of the linebackers on their two-deep weigh 230 pounds or more and lack the kind of speed needed to stay with the Ducks on the edge.

If Shittu is able to come in and play early and gain some experience, his presence might provide the depth that the defense will certainly need to play four quarters of football with the Duck version of "60 Minutes of Hell."

Chase Thomas led the Pac-12 in tackles for loss last season with 17.5
Early Defense Prediction: Stanford does not have the kind of beef in the middle that has given the Ducks trouble against elite defenses. Nor do the Cardinal have the kind of defensive speed that the premier teams who were able to have success against the ducks possess. Without the speed on the edge, and without overwhelming size up the middle, the Cardinal will, once again, struggled to contain the Duck offense for 4 quarters. Given the recent history between these two teams, expect Shaw to employ some different strategies on defense. If he has both Skov and Thomas healthy for this game, he may try and use one of them to "spy" Barner to contain him and force Bennett to beat the defense with his arm.

The problem with that strategy, though, will be that Bennett is considerably faster than Thomas was and can make them pay with his feet just as much as his arm. Expect the Ducks to be able to move the ball well against the Cardinal, especially through the air. Oregon should have a decent shot at scoring 42 or more points in this game.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If Oregon can force a young quarterback into mistakes in what will likely be the most hostile environment he has seen, the Ducks could be playing ahead very early in this game. The offense needs to use the weaknesses of this defense, speed and a young secondary, to make their plays early. If Oregon is getting to the edge and completing passes, they will score a lot of points.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If the Ducks let a couple of plays by them early and allow Stanford to an early lead, with pressure he has not yet faced to win, Bennett and the offense then make more mistakes giving Stanford the ball back, this could be a long day for Oregon. If Shaw has a big lead early, expect him to become an old-fashioned "3 yards and a cloud of dust" coach and try to control the clock. If he can do that and keep the Oregon offense off the field, anything can happen

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Stanford has given up nearly 50 points per game in the last 3 meetings with the Ducks. In those games the Cardinal averaged 37 points per game. In 2010 and 2011 the Cardinal, with the best quarterback in college football guiding their offense, scored 31 and 30 points respectively. The team has now lost the most critical components of those offenses. Do not expect this to be a shootout like 2009 and do not expect the Cardinal to jump out to a big early lead. Stanford will take a step backwards offensively which will create some defensive mental lapses. Oregon should control this game early on and cruise to a comfortable victory at home.

Monday, March 26, 2012


After facing an extremely talented USC team on the road, the Ducks will have to travel for a second week in a row. The tenth game of the 2012 season will be a road tilt with the California Golden Bears.

As we continue our first look at the 2012 season for the Ducks, today Duck Sports Authority brings you a first look at the California Golden Bears.

Coaching Upheaval. The Golden Bears were hauling in one of the most impressive recruiting classes in the history of their football program before the defection of key coaches left the team scrambling to hold on to their high profile recruits. The Golden Bears should be adapted to their new coaches by this poi8nt of the season, but it will be a key story line to see how the units which have new coaches are developing.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Keenan Allen, 6-3, 205, WR; Isi Sofele, 5-8, 190, RB; Zach Maynard, 6-2, 190, QB

Key Losses: Marvin Jones, WR; Mitchell Schwartz, LT; Anthony Miller, TE

Key Arrivals: Zach Kline, 6-2, 210 QB; Bryce Treggs, 5-11, 171, WR

Associated Press
Keenan Allen led Cal in receiving in 2011
California brings back plenty of talent on offense. The Golden Bears look for the offense to move forward with their leading rusher, leading receiver and starting quarterback all returning from the 2011 squad. The loss of the capable Jones to help ease pressure off of Allen may cause some growing pains early in the season. Though the offense brings back Sofele and Allen, the loss of Jones Miller and Michael Calvin takes 106 receptions off of the roster.

Spencer Hagan is a capable receiver out of the tight end spot, but at 6-5, 227 he is not going to provide the same presence as a run blocker that Miller provided last season. The other key area to focus on will be the offensive line which lost two starters including Schwartz protecting the quarterback from his left tackle position.

Sofele proved to be a very good running back last season carrying the ball 252 times for 1322 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was not asked to do much out of the backfield with just 6 receptions for 33 yards. With the loss of so many quality receivers from last years squad, the Bears may look to get Sofele more involved in the passing game in 2012.

Early Offense Prediction: Expect the Bears to play offense much the same as they always have under Tedford. It is difficult to predict everything for a game this late into the season as there are quite a few people that believe Kline may have passed Maynard by this point of the season. In some ways, that would benefit the Ducks to a degree as Kline does not have the mobility of Maynard. The Bears will look to quick outs early to try and get the defensive backs cheating up and then attempt to go over the top to take advantage of Allen's speed. They will use Sofele just as they did this past season, but expect him to get more involved in the passing game with swing passes and screens to help loosen up the middle of the field.

The Ducks defense has grown and should be better in 2012 than last season. The defensive backs will play well against the Bears. The defensive line, which should be one of the best in the North division of the Pac-12, will likely get a lot of pressure on Cal's QB. Do not expect the Bears to march up and down the field on the Ducks. They will have some sporadic successes and some good drives to go along with a couple of explosion plays. Over the past two seasons, the Bears have averaged just 14.5 points per game against the Ducks. Their offense will be better than those two games, but not significantly better. Look for Cal to score in the 14-20 point range.


Returning Starters: 5

Key returners: Aaropn Tipoti, 6-2, 295, NG; Steve Williams, 5-10, 185, Cornerback; Marc Anthony, 6-2, 200, Cornerback

Key Losses: Mychal Kendricks, LB; Trevor Guyton, DE; D.J. Holt, LB; Sean Cattouse, Safety; D.J. Campbell, Safety

Key Arrivals: None

Statistically, the California Golden Bears were the best defense in the Pac-12 last season giving up just 332.9 yards per game. Despite that impressive statistic, the Ducks rolled for 563 total yards against the Bears including 365 yards rushing. The team loses their top four tacklers from that squad. The Bears also lose their top 4 leaders in tackles for loss from the 2011 season. There are some talented players waiting in the wings, but this defense is sure to take a step back in 2012 with the losses at linebacker and safety.

Tipoti will be important tot heir defense in 2012. Chris McCain, in a back-up role played well with 29 tackles including 6 tackles for loss. Also returning are the top two cover corners with Anthony and Williams who had 12 and 11 passes broken up respectively. The Bears will be breaking in two new safeties, though, which could be a problem early in the season.

Early Defense Prediction: California did not have a lot of success in 2011 against the Ducks. Oregon simply had too much depth and speed on the field for California to keep up with. California, though, plays a lot better at home than on the road. Expect the Bears to use a different strategy in 2012. The Bears will likely try to use an athlete like McCain to spy whoever is the running back and let their defensive ends control the quarterback. The danger, though, with this strategy will once again be their ability, or lack thereof, to employ a cover "0" scheme against the Ducks offense. If the Duck receivers are able to make some plays, that will loosen up the Bear defense much like 2011.

Also expect the Ducks to try and take advantage of De'Anthony Thomas' speed against the Bears. They had no answer for him in 2011 and will not likely have any better answers in 2012.

Associated Press
Mychal Kendricks is a big loss for the Cal defnse
The Bears play better at home, but their defense will not be as good in 2012 as last season. Expect the Ducks to be able to move the ball well against a Bears defense, especially as the game wears on and depth becomes an issue. The Ducks should be able to score in the 34-45 point range against the Bears.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If Oregon can use their receivers to loosen up the running game, the Ducks should be able to score at will against a California team that lost a lot of talented defenders. The Duck defense will need to create pressure and make Cal one dimensional on offense. If they can do that, the Ducks should win comfortably.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If, however, the Ducks cannot get the ball to the wide receivers and are stuck trying to employ the ground and pound game that others have tried to force, the Ducks could be in for a long night. The pressure of a low scoring game could cause some lapses in the secondary allowing Allen to use his blazing speed to beat the Ducks deep. If Cal is able to get Allen the ball in open space, while controlling the Ducks offense, there could be a repeat of 2010 with the Bears coming out on top this time. The Ducks will also need to be focused after the big game against USC the previous week. If the Ducks beat USC, they need to not be focused on the "national championship" talk. If they lose, they need to be able to put it behind them. If they cannot, the let-down could also be very costly.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: While the Bears defense has been very good the last two seasons, they will take a big step back in 2012. The Ducks offense, despite the loss of their own talented players in LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, have considerably better replacements and should be able to still move the ball well against the Bears and score well into the 30 point range and maybe more. Expect a lot of emotion by Cal early to keep the game close for a time, but Oregon, with their superior speed and depth should be able to control the game and pull away in the second half. Oregon should win this game comfortably.

Friday, March 23, 2012


The game of the year in the Pac-12 falls next for the Ducks. After giving you a first glance at the Ducks first eight opponents of the 2012 season, Duck Sports Authority continues to preview the 2012 season, game-by-game.

If all goes according to plan, the Ducks will meet the Trojans at the Coliseum with both teams entering the contest undefeated and with dreams of a BCS National Championship game in Miami. This is the key game for the Pac-12 in 2012 as it likely determines which team hosts the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game.

Tim Lutes
Matt Barkley returns for the Trojans in 2012
The return of Matt Barkley. Many experts expected Matt Barkley to declare for the NFL draft after his superb junior season. When starting offensive tackle Matt Kalil announced he was entering the NFL Draft many experts believed that the writing was on the wall and that Barkley would be right behind. In what some considered a surprise move, Barkley called a press conference to announce his desire to fulfil "unfinished business" in 2012 by returning for his senior season. From the moment Barkley announced his decision, USC was considered a front-runner for a shot at the National Championship Game.


Returning Starters: 9

Key returners: Matt Barkley, 6-2, 230, QB; Curtis McNeal, 5-7, 190, RB; Robert Woods, 6-1, 190, WR; Marquise Lee, 6-0, 190, WR

Key Losses: Matt Kalil, Left Tackle; Marc Tyler, RB; Rhett Ellison, FB

Key Arrivals: Zach Banner, 6-9, 310 Offensive Tackle; Jordan Simmons, 6-5, 333, Guard; Nelson Agholor, 6-2, 180, WR

The Trojans received a big boost with the return of Barkley. What promised to be a very good offense become one of the most potent in the nation with the return of Barkley. The Trojans have added to their already explosive receiving corps with the late commitment of Agholor. Even without Agholor, though, the combination of Woods and Lee proved deadly against a young Ducks secondary late in 2011.

The key loss is, of course, All-American Matt Kalil. Considered a top 5 overall player in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Trojans will need to find another tackle who can protect Barkley as well. That my be impossible, though, as Kalil did not surrender a single sack against in 2011. It is difficult to surpass perfection.

In addition to the explosive wide receivers and Heisman Trophy front-runner at quarterback, the Trojans also bring back 1000 yard rusher Curtis McNeal. Where the Trojans will have issues is certainly not with their starters. USC may have the most talented starting offense in the nation in 2012. IF there are any chinks in the armour, it is the depth at key positions. The only experienced running back beyond McNeal is D.J. Morgan who saw action in 10 games carrying the ball 42 times for 180 yards.

This team is built, though, around the passing game, where there is plenty of depth at wide receiver.

Early Offense Prediction: For the first 3 quarters plus against the Ducks in 2011, USC showed that they can score against Oregon. In fact, USC was able to keep the score close by hanging with the Ducks score-for-score through three quarters in 2010 as well. USC will attack the Ducks with a similar game plan to last season, throw quick passes to the wide receivers and then go over the top for the home run when the defense begins to cheat up. The Duck secondary, though, will have another year of seasoning under their belts and should play better than last season. Given that, expect that the Trojans will still be able to score anywhere from 28-34 points.


Returning Starters: 9

Key returners: Hayes Pullard, 6-1, 230, LB; Wes Horton, 6-5, 260, DE; Nickell Robey, 5-8, 165, Cornerback

Key Losses: Nick Perry, DE; Christian Tupou, DT; Chris Galippo, LB

Key Arrivals: Morgan Breslin, 6-3, 245, DE, Diablo Valley C.C.

The Trojan defense in 2011 was exceptional at times and less than exceptional at other times. One of the dilemmas that the Trojans faced on defense was lack of depth. Against the Ducks, that lack of depth began to be exploited int eh fourth quarter as the Ducks mounted a rally that almost brought them from a huge deficit to an implausible victory.

The key component missing for the Trojans will be leading pass rusher Nick Perry. Perry departed early to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. He took with him his production of 54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Perry led the team in both tackles for loss and sacks in 2011. His ability to pressure quarterbacks will be sorely missed in 2012.

The Trojans do not find themselves empty, however, on the defensive side of the ball. Against the Ducks, USC started three freshman linebackers and all of them played well on the season. Hayes Pullard led USC with 81 total tackles which included 6.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.

The Trojans have the one thing needed to compete with the Ducks; speed in the back 7. The three linebackers and the secondary give the Trojans the ability to limit big plays. Monte Kiffin seemed to get his defense playing better in his second season with the Trojans. His complicated NFL defense took some getting used to for the players, but there seems to be a better grasp by the players.

Tim Lutes
Nick Perry's departure is a big loss for the Trojan defense
Early Defense Prediction: The Trojans were thin defensively in 2011 and that situation did not change for the better after losing quality, experienced depth like Galippo and DaJohn Harris (DT). The Ducks were able to put a barrage of points up in the fourth quarter in 2011. Expect the Trojans to work to contain everything and force a young quarterback to make plays early. The Trojans will likely use a combination coverage to contain De'Anthony Thomas. As the game wears on, though, the Ducks and their famous tempo should be able to put up some points on the Trojan defense. Expect the Ducks to score 28-34 points.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If Oregon can establish their pace and tempo early and take the pressure of the running game with good crisp passes, sure hands by the receivers and use that to open up the run game, the Ducks have a chance to, once again, score above 35 on the Trojans. If the Ducks are able to put pressure on the Trojans early, that should also help the defense in their attempt to make USC more predictable and "pin their ears back" as they try to create pressure on Barkley and disrupt the timing in the passing game.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: Conversely, if the Ducks cannot get their pace and tempo established early and the passing game cannot take advantage of the opportunities, expect USC to really begin to smell blood and attack the secondary. While Oregon will be a year more experienced, the Trojans still have a ton of weapons on the edge and they can make plays.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: This game is a classic toss-up at this point. The Trojans beat the Ducks in 2011, but that does not really predict 2012. If Bennett hits some passes earl;y and loosens up the running game early, the Ducks could build a comfortable lead and put the pressure on. This could also be a shoot-out with the teams trading scores in a classic "last team with the ball wins" scenario. At this point, given all things being equal and both teams healthy, the early edge goes to USC due to home field advantage.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


In this continuing series from Duck Sports Authority, we continue to look at each of the Ducks 2012 football opponents. After a Thursday night game at Arizona State, the Ducks will get a mini-bye week with 10 days to prepare for their next opponent; the Colorado Buffaloes. This will be the first trip for Colorado to Autzen as a member of the Pac-12 conference. This will be the first trip to Autzen for the Buffaloes since September 13, 1986.

Things have changed, though, from those days. In 1986, Autzen stadium was a quaint little stadium that did not have a history of sell-outs and showed only modest successes. Today, Autzen Stadium is considered one of the rowdiest stadiums in the country and boasts a perennial top 10 team.

Colorado, meanwhile, has gone backwards with their program and regressed to the lower tiers of college football. If there were still "bottom 10" lists floating around, Colorado may have been included during their last two seasons. Looking to restore the pride of nationally relevant teams, the Buffaloes enter their second season under head coach Jon Embree.

Offensive Disparity. Colorado brings the lowest scoring team in Pac-12 play in 2011 to Autzen to face one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. The disparity was apparent in last season's game at Boulder as the Colorado offense failed to score during the game, while Oregon scored 45 without their starting running back or quarterback


Returning Starters: 4

Key returners: Tony Jones, 5-7, 175, RB; Paul Richardson, 6-1, 175, WR

Key Losses: Tyler Hanseon, QB, Rodney Stewart, RB; Tony Clemons, WR; Ryan Miller, Guard

Key Arrivals: None

Getty Images
2011 leading rusher Rodney Stewart
The already anaemic offense took a hit in the off-season with the loss of their starting quarterback, best running back and best wide receiver. Colorado saw promising starts to the careers of Tony Jones at running back and Nick Hirschman at quarterback. Jones rushed for 297 yards in limited time while Hirschmann appeared to have good tools at the quarterback position.

Paul Richardson is a dangerous receiver who can also hurt teams in the return game. Richardson is the leading returning receiver having amassed 39 receptions for 555 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. He turned one reception into a 78 yard touchdown and had a high game of 11 receptions for 284 yards. His speed can be lethal if he gets a chance in the open field.

The team lost its starting tight end to graduation as well and his production will need to be replaced. Unfortunately for Colorado, the backup at several positions were also seniors. With no impact freshman on the horizon, the offense for Colorado does not promise to be much improved over last season.

Early Offense Prediction: Breaking in new starters in the backfield and at wide receiver as well as a couple of key offensive line positions, even by mid October, the Buffaloes do not figure to be able to cause much damage to an Oregon defense likely to be better than any defense in recent Duck history. Do not expect to see long sustained drives or big explosion plays by Colorado. The Buffaloes will struggle to score points against the Ducks in Autzen.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Jon Major, 6-2, 230, LB; Will Pericak, 6-4, 285, DE; Greg Henderson, 5-11, 185, CB

Key Losses: Josh Hartigan, LB; Patrick Mahnke, LB

Key Arrivals: Yuri Wright, 6-1, 180, DB, Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)

The defense should be in better shape than the offense in 2012. The Buffaloes bring back their leading tackler and best defensive back. Jon Major led the team in total tackles with 85 last season. He also notched 7 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. The team loses it's best pass rusher, though, with the graduation of Hartigan. Hartigan recorded 10 tackles for loss last season, 8 of which were sacks. The Buffaloes will miss that production, but have some talented linebackers that can step in and play well in his place. The most notable of the key back-ups is Chidera Uzo-Diribe (6-3, 240) who recorded 5 ½ sacks of his own in limited action last season.

The Buffaloes bring back 3 of 4 starters in the defensive backfield. Their experience in 2011 should prove valuable in 2012 as the young players mature and understand the college speed a little better. Yuri Wright, who gained notoriety after being expelled for his tweets, is, nonetheless, a very talented player who might make an instant impact for the Buffaloes. Look for him during the early part of the 2012 season and you might be able to gain some perspective on how ready he is to contribute at the Pac-12 level.

Ed Navarro
Linebacker Jon Major returns for Colorado in 2012
Early Defense Prediction: Though a year of experience will help this team improve on their poor rankings from last season after allowing a conference worst 36.5 points per game. Though they will be better as a unit, it will not likely make much of a difference against the Ducks. The pace and depth needed to play against Oregon's offense cannot be matched by many teams in the Pac-12 Conference. Colorado, despite their improvement, is not going to be close to fielding a team prepared to play 60 minutes of football against the high-flying Duck offense. Colorado will struggle to contain the starting unit and will likely be playing against subs sometime in the 3rd quarter or early 4th quarter.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: This is a game that, barring some sort of disaster, the Ducks should win handily. Oregon will still need to take care of the ball on offense and stay disciplined on defense, but there should be little question in the second half as to the outcome of this game.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: It would take some sort of injury plagued game that had the Ducks resorting to Wildcat QB formations for a Colorado win to be plausible at this time. Even then, the Ducks should have enough talent at running back to be able to win this game.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: This is a game that Oregon should win and win handily. The Ducks will be at home after an extra couple of days rest. There is the possibility of the team looking ahead to the following game at USC, but expect the Ducks to win easily.

Monday, March 19, 2012


As we continue to take an early look at each of the Ducks opponents during the upcoming season we turn our attention to game number seven of 2012; a trip to Tempe, Arizona to face the Sun Devils of Arizona State.

After their first bye week of the season, the Ducks will face Arizona State on a Thursday night in Arizona.

As has been the case seemingly every week in the 2012 season, the Ducks will face a team whose coaching staff has been overhauled. In this case, with the fading successes of Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils replaced him in the off-season with Todd Graham.

Coaching change. Graham has been somewhat nomadic in his coaching career spending just one season as the head coach at Rice before moving to Tulsa as their head coach following the 2006 season. After leaving Tulsa to take over the Pitt job, Graham lasted just one season at Pitt as well before moving on again to Arizona State.

After many years of coaches with offensive mindsets in Tempe, Graham comes to the Valley of the Sun from the defensive side of the ball.


Returning Starters: 3

Key returners: Cameron Marshall, 5-11, 223, RB; Jamal Miles, 5-10, 183, WR

Key Losses: Brock Osweiler, QB, Gerrell Robinson, WR; Aaron Pflugrad, WR; Garth Gerhart, Center

Key Arrivals: D.J. Foster, 5-11, 190, Athlete, Saguaro (Scottsdale) High School; Marion Grice, 6-0, 215, RB, Blinn C.C.

Tim Nelson/
Cameron Marshall returns to lead the ground game for ASU
The offense took a bog hit in the off-season with the loss of three starting offensive linemen, the starting quarterback and their top receiver. What the Sun Devils return, however, is leading rusher Cameron Marshall. A strong, physical back, Marshall gained over 1000 yards last season as a junior and will be a likely focal point of the new offense being put in place by offensive coordinator Mike Norvell. Norvell coached with Graham at Tulsa and Pitt and is known for his wide open passing attacks.

The key position to watch this off-season will be the quarterback position for the Sun Devils. ASU has just three quarterbacks on the roster, none of whom have any experience. Without an experienced quarterback and with two of the top receiving threats from 2011 now graduated, the Sun Devils will have a difficult time establishing their offensive identity in the 2012 season. Nonetheless, by the time this game arrives on the schedule, the Sun Devils should have the beginning of their offensive identity and it will likely involve a lot of passing with a steady does of Cameron Marshall. Do not be surprised, though, to see the offense feature more of Kyle Middlebrooks who should provide a change of pace to the bruising running style of Marshall.

Early Offense Prediction: The Sun Devils lost a lot of talent from the 2011 team and at the most important positions, there does not appear to be anyone ready to step in and fill the shoes. This is especially true of the quarterback position. Norvell's offense relies on the quarterback to be like a point guard and distribute the ball all over the field. The Sun Devils will have some success throwing the ball, but will not likely have the tools or athletes to score as much as in years past. Expect Norvell to try and attack the secondary, but not find a lot of success.


Returning Starters: 4

Key returners: Junior Onyeali, 5-11, 245, DE; Deveron Carr, 5-11, 193, CB; Brandon Magee, 5-11, 230, LB

Key Losses: Vontaze Burfict, LB; Bo Moos, DT; Colin Parker, LB

Key Arrivals: Steffon Martin, LB, 6-2, 235, Arizona Western C.C.

As with the offensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils lose their most productive players from last season. One important returner is Brandon Magee returning after missing all of last season with injury. Another important component to a rebuilt defense will be Onyeali. Despite missing five games due to injury, Onyeali still managed to post 3.5 tackles for loss in his abbreviated season. Onyeali should be fully recovered and ready to make his mark again in the 2012 season.

Deveron Carr was far and away the team leader in passes defended last season. His presence should help offset the loss of three other starters in the defensive backfield.

Tim Nelson/
The loss of the mercurial Vontaze Burfict will be huge for the Sun Devils
Early Defense Prediction: A team that played a lot of undisciplined football, outside of their victory over the Trojans, lost most of their stars. This may be a good thing as sometimes the mantra of "addition by subtraction" applies. In this case, a fresh start may help the team be more consistent on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive Coordinator Paul Randolph has had defensive success in his prior coaching stops including three seasons as the defensive ends coach for Alabama (2003-05). Though the team will likely be more disciplined in 2012 than in years past, the Sun Devils lack the talent and speed to compete at the Ducks level. The Sun Devils will have a difficult time containing one of the most explosive offenses in the nation again in 2012.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks will need to overcome the raucous Thursday night crowd it is sure to face against the Sun Devils. As long as the Ducks do not give ASU extra chances via turnovers, the Ducks should be able to roll up plenty of points against a young, inexperienced Arizona State football team.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If, however, Oregon turns the ball over a few times and lets the high octane throwing offense get behind the defensive backfield, the Ducks could face a team fired up and struggle to contain the offense.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: The Ducks should be able to roll into Tempe and win this game. Like in all games, the team must not take the victory for granted, but I doubt Chip Kelly allows this team to go on the road, for a Thursday night game, after a bye week and not be fully focused on the task at hand. Oregon win.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Today Duck Sports Authority continues to take an early look at the 2012 schedule. So far we have given you a sneak peak at the first five games of the 2012 season. Playing at home for the fifth time in the first six weeks of the season, after what may be an almost neutral site game in Seattle to face the Washington State Cougars, the Ducks face Washington at Autzen on October 6 in what promises to be a raucous environment.

Once again a major storyline for the Ducks will be the coaching upheaval at Washington. Unlike the other coaching changes, though, this change was a complete upheaval of the defensive coaching staff after an embarrassing defensive display in the Alamo Bowl against Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears.

Coaching change. After a season in which the defense seemed to regress with each week culminating with the embarrassing performance in the Alamo Bowl, Steve Sarkisian started from scratch and brought in an entire new defensive staff. Duck fans have lamented at the fact that two of those new assistants happen to be former Ducks. Nonetheless, both Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon will experience Autzen in the most hostile environment possible; as coaches for the hated Washington Huskies.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Keith Price, 6-1, 192, QB; Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, 6-6, 250, TE; Kasen Williams, 6-2, 212, WR

Key Losses: Chris Polk, RB; Jermaine Kearse, WR; Devin Agiuilera, WR, Nick Montana, QB

Key Arrivals:Cyler Miles, 6-4, 220, QB, Mullen (Denver) High School

Ron Newberry/
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins looks for a bigger impact in 2012
The offense was very young at the offensive line position in 2011 for Sarkisian's Huskies. That line returns with another year of experience. However, the team lost most of their offensive stars in the off-season. The lone returning impact starter is tight end Sefarian-Jenkins. Sefarian-Jenkins notched 41 receptions for 538 yards and 6 touchdowns as a freshman. His continued development should make him a better threat this season which should scare fans of many teams.

Keith Price is a very good quarterback; when he is healthy. He was hobbled for much of the season last year, but still managed to throw for 3063 yards on 242-362; a very good completion rate of 66.9 percent. Price threw for 33 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His top two receivers, however, have moved on as graduates and his primary running back left school a year early declaring for the draft. What may possibly be the most important loss is the only experienced back-up QB for the Huskies, Nick Montana, who decided to transfer. If he can develop quickly enough Cyler Miles may be counted on to back-up the oft injured Price.

Chris Polk was the heart and soul of the Washington running game accounting for just over 74% of the team rushing yards with his 293 carries for 1488 yards. His 12 touchdowns were nearly 86% of the rushing touchdowns scored by running backs for the Huskies in 2011.

Early Offense Prediction: With a year to grow more comfortable together, Price is likely to look for Sefarian-Jenkins early and often against the Ducks. As all Sarkisian led offenses do, the Huskies will look to establish the run and use play action passing to get the ball to Sefarian-Jenkins and his wide receivers. The Huskies had difficulty with the Ducks pass rush in 2011 and they will make some adjustments. The maturation of the offensive line should help some, and Price's health will be a key factor. Nonetheless, the loss of Kearse and Aguilar will be felt against the Ducks as their replacements are not quite the same calibre receivers. The bigger loss will be Polk. The running game will not be as efficient allowing the Duck defense to generate more pressure as the game moves into the second half. Expect the Huskies to move in spurts with Price and Sefarian-Jenkins taking advantage of mismatches. But do not expect the Huskies to score more than 24 points.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Sean Parker, 5-10, 210, Junior, Safety; Josh Shirley, 6-2, 210, Sophomore, LB; Princeton Fuimaono, 6-1, 215, Junior, LB

Key Losses: Alameda Ta'amu, DT; Everette Thompson, DT; Cort Dennison, LB

Key Arrivals: Shaq Thompson, Safety, 6-2, 210, Grant (Sacramento) High School

The Huskies bring back a lot of starters, but lose their leading tackler and the heart of their defensive line losing both starters at defensive tackle.

What the Huskies return, though, is a good corps of players who racked up big numbers last season. Parker was second on the team in total tackles with 91 as well as leading the team in interceptions with 4 on the season. From his linebacker spot, Shirley led the team in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (8.5) in 2011. Fuimaono was third on the team in total tackles (64) and second in tackles for loss with 8.5 to go along with 3 sacks last season.

The addition of Thompson should be instant and impactful for the Huskies. Thompson has the ability to be a super star at multiple positions and will likely get a chance to play offense as well as defense. However, defense is where he will likely make the biggest impact for the Huskies. The Washington defense played Oregon well in Seattle in 2011, but still had a difficult time stopping the run when they needed to against the Ducks. Thompson should help in that regard as well as helping with pass defense.

Early Defense Prediction: Though the Husky defgense played better than some expected against the Ducks, they still struggled to contain LaMichel James and Kenjon Barner down the stretch. While the Huskies got a glimpse of De'Anthony Thomas' speed and potential on special teams, they saw very little of him on offense as he carried just once for a 9 yard touchdown and had no receptions in Seattle. Expect that to change and expect the speed and tempo of the Duck offense along with the home town crowd and a crazy environment to make the difference for the Ducks. Bryan Bennett should be very comfortable as the starter by this point and should be able to take advantage of some weak spots in the Husky defense. The battle will be intense early and likely be close throughout much of the game with the Ducks pulling away late for a semi-comfortable victory.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: If the Ducks defense plays the kind of smothering rush defense that they did against the Huskies in 2011, it could be a long day for the Huskies in Eugene. The offense should be able to score against a Husky defense that will be improved, but not enough to stop the Ducks for an entire game at Autzen.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If the Duck defense lets Price throw without pressure and he has the time to find Sefarian-Jenkins over the middle and then hit Kasen Williams deep, the Ducks will struggle to contain the Husky offense. Coach Alliotti needs to make Washington one dimensional so that the defensive line can begin to pressure Price again. If the Huskies are rolling on offense, expect new defensive coordinator Wilcox to get aggressive. If that aggression leads to a couple of turnovers, the Ducks could be in trouble.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: With what is sure to be a homecoming crowd and intense emotions in the stands, the Ducks should be able to contain the running game of the Huskies. Without a running threat, the defensive line will get pressure to Price and disrupt the timing between he and Sefarian-Jenkins. The raw intensity of this game may keep it close through 3 quarters, but the Ducks should pull away and win in the fourth quarter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Continuing our look at each of the opponents the Ducks will face in 2012, today Duck Sports Authority brings to you a first look at the first road game the Ducks will play in 2012. After four consecutive home games to open the 2012 season, the Ducks will make their first road trip to Seattle to play Washington State on September 29th next season. This is a blessing in disguise as the Ducks will not likely have to face the truly adverse weather conditions that can begin flying through Eastern Washington in late October. A game in late September in Seattle will make for an almost "neutral" feel as Duck fans are sure to travel well to watch this game.

Once again a major storyline for the Ducks will be the coaching change at Washington State. Former Duck Athletic Director Bill Moos made what many considered a "home run" hire when he was able to land former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach as the new Cougar head coach.

Coaching change. Mike Leach comes to Washington State with some baggage having gone through a very public, bitter divorce from his previous coaching position. Nonetheless, Leach did not forget how to coach in his time away from the field. Leach will bring an exciting brand of football to the Pac-12 with his aerial assault offense. Making the transition easier will be that there are some effective weapons that Leach will have at his disposal.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Jeff Tuel, 6-3, 217, QB; Rickey Galvin, 5-8, 172, RB; Marquess Wilson, 6-4, 183, WR

Key Losses: Marshall Lobbestael, QB; Jared Karstetter, WR; B.J. Guerra, Guard

Key Arrivals: Gabriel Marks, 6-0, 175, WR, Venice High School

Mike Leach will need an experienced quarterback to pick up his high octane offense. Many would think losing a senior starter that completed 61% of his passes for over 2500 yards would be a loss, but Lobbestael started mostly as a replacement for the oft-injured Jeff Tuel. If Tuel can stay healthy, that should give Leach a quarterback he can trust to run the system. If Tuel is unable to stay healthy again, returning redshirt sophomore Connor Halliday showed promise in his late season appearances last season.

One of the great benefits Leach will have is an incredible receiver in Wilson who caught 82 passes for 1388 yards and 12 touchdowns during his sophomore season. Karstetter was a very reliable possession receiver and he will be missed by this offense. Gabriel Marks is the only Rivals 100 player signed by the Cougars in 2012 and he has a chance to come into Leach's aerial attack and make some plays.

Though Leach is known for his passing attack, he has a capable running back that fits the mold he played at Texas Tech as well. Galvin led the Cougars in 2011 with 602 yards on 5.3 yards per carry. Galvin's back-up, Carl Winston (5-8, 200) also returns for the Cougars.

The offensive line was a definite weak spot for the team last season as they gave up 39 sacks for the year. Even with Leach's quick passing attack, the line will need to play better if they expect success in their first season under Leach.

Early Offense Prediction: Mike Leach will look very heavily at the film from Oregon-USC in 2011 and feel inspired by the possibilities. If he can get a second and third weapon to try and overwhelm a still young secondary, Leach will feel very confident that the Cougars can score some points on the Ducks. Washington State will be looking for an early season upset of a top 5 team and will look to the air to get it done. Expect a lot of quick out passes early with Wilson then stretching the field. The Cougars will be even more prolific through the air this year than in 2011 and will put up plenty of passing yards. However, they will likely struggle in the red-zone as the field shrinks and the experienced Duck defense begins to tighten the clamps.


Returning Starters: 9

Key returners: Travis Long, 6-4, 256, Senior, DE; Anthony Laurenzi, 6-3, 287, Senior, DT; Damante Horton, 5-10, 174, Junior, CB

Key Losses: Alex Hoffman-Ellis, LB; Brandon Rankin, DT

Key Arrivals: Ioane Gauta, DT, 6-4, 300, Fullerton C.C.

The Cougars return most of their starters from 2011, but is that a good thing for a team that allowed nearly 410 yards per game and 32 points per game? The team gave up more than 450 yards in five different games including 453 to Idaho State in the opener. A new defensive coordinator is sure to shake up what the Cougars have been doing, but there are some good pieces to work with for Mike Breske.

Returning for the Cougars is their best pass rusher, Travis Long, who accounted for 42 total tackles last season, but led the team in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (4) last season. The entire defensive backfield returns including Damante Horton who picked off 4 passes for the Cougars last season, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Defensive Coordinator Mike Breske has a history of successful defenses at the FCS level with incredible success at Montana. He also served as a defensive coordinator for Wyoming and had very strong defenses during his tenure there as well. He has seen a lot of success wherever he has been, but this will be his first position at a BCS conference school.

Early Defense Prediction: Washington State had some surprising success against the Ducks in 2011, yet still gave up 454 yards of total offense. The team does not lose much and will have a very good defensive coach guiding them. Look for the Cougars to attack the Ducks much the same way Cal did in 2010 trying to make the Ducks beat them through the air. Bryan Bennett will not have faced a stiff defense heading into his fifth game in 2012. However, as with many opponents, Washington State lacks the type of speed needed to play four quarters against the Ducks. The Cougars will have some success early, but will be susceptible to the "big play" as the second and third quarters roll around. Also expect after two lackluster performances in a row against WSU that Coach Kelly will have this team prepared for a fired up Cougar team. The Ducks should be able to score and move the ball against the Cougars and their pace should cause the Cougars to wear down by the 4th quarter.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: Mike Leach will bring a complex offense to the Cougars. The Ducks defense will be experienced and even deeper in 2012 than they were over the last two seasons. If the Ducks defense creates pressure and confusion for Jeff Tuel, it could spell a long day for the Cougars. The offense should be at full throttle by this game. If the defense helps out with early turnovers, the Ducks will roll. Even without turnovers, the Ducks should be able to contain the offense and run wild on a defense not equipped to handle the Ducks speed and depth on offense.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: The Ducks will be facing a kind of passing attack it has not seen in quite some time. It cannot compare to what USC was last season as the Cougars do not have that kind of talent. If the defensive backs lapse on their assignments and begin to give up larger chunks of yardage, then the Cougars could give the Ducks all they can handle. WSU will need big plays on offense and turnovers on defense to pull the upset. Oregon must play crisp on offense and disciplined on defense or this is a game that could knock the Ducks from the national title hunt.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Unlike the last two seasons, the Ducks will be prepared for an improved WSU team that will pose some challenges on both sides of the ball. The Ducks should be able to roll out of Seattle with a comfortable victory over the Cougars.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Continuing our look at each of the opponents the Ducks will face in 2012, today Duck Sports Authority brings to you a first look at the first conference opponent the Ducks will face in 2012. After three non-conference opponents all facing an uphill battle, a storyline that will be seemingly the same every week faces Oregon in their first conference game; coaching change. In four of their first five games and five of their first seven games, the Ducks will face an opponent with a new head coach.

The first week of conference play falls into that trend with the Ducks facing the Arizona Wildcats at Autzen. Arizona brought Rich Rodriguez to Tucson to replace the mercurial Mike Stoops.

Rich Rodriguez was perhaps the most important arrival for Arizona for the 2012 season
Coaching change. This will be a redundant theme for the Ducks over the first half of the season. After battling to build the team from what seemed like scratch when he arrived, Mike Stoops' team took a giant step back in 2011 and it cost him the head coaching position. Rodriquez is most recently remembered for the scorn and unmet expectations from a stint at traditional powerhouse Michigan. That lack of success notwithstanding, Rodriguez was wildly successful at West Virginia running his version of the spread option offense.

One thing Rodriguez has brought to Tucson which should help them prepare better for teams like Oregon is a fast temp[o practice pace. Rodriguez is dividing his practices into 20 five minute segments. Rodriguez uses a 3 light system to indicate what type of period that the team is running. Red light is for brief water breaks while yellow is for "speed" and the green is for "all-out" periods. If he runs this tempo throughout Spring practices and through fall camp, the Wildcats are sure to be better prepared for the tempo Oregon plays at than in years past.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Matt Scott, 6-3, 197, QB; Kadeem Carey, 5-10, 203, RB; Kyle Quinn, 6-3, 294, Center; Dan Buckner, 6-4, 214 WR

Key Losses: Nick Foles, QB; Juron Criner, WR; Keola Antolin, RB

Key Arrivals: None

Rich Rodriguez will have his work cut out for him in his first year at the helm of the Wildcats. The team lost its starting QB (Foles) leading receiver (Criner) and leading rusher (Antolin) not to mention the second, third and fifth leading receivers from the 2011 squad.

He will have a good start at replacing that production, however, with senior Matt Scott and emerging sophomore Kadeem Carey. Scott is well suited to a spread option offense with better speed than Foles possesses and a better arm than people know about. He will have some tools to work with as Buckner proved to be a dangerous weapon in the passing game and Carey showed last season that he is more than capable with the ball in his hands.

Buckner is the leading returning receiver having accounted for 606 yards on 42 receptions which included 2 touchdowns. Carey carried the ball 91 times for 425 yards. Despite his second strong status in 2011, Carey led the team with 6 rushing touchdowns. Carey also caught 15 balls out of the backfield for 203 yards and 2 additional touchdowns.

There is not a lot of experienced depth at any position on the offense. While Scott should prove to be a good fit for Rodriguez' offense, he did not see any action in 2011 preserving a fifth year of eligibility. Scott has proven a capable passer completing 71% of his passes in 2010 as a backup to Foles. He is also an exceptional ball carrier averaging 6.4 yards per carry for his career carrying the ball 99 times for 632 yards during his first three seasons as a Wildcat.

Early Offense Prediction: Though the team will have its work cut out, the Wildcats have a few very dangerous weapons on the offense that will give a lot of Pac-12 teams fits over the course of the 2012 season. Matt Scott will be able to gain some rushing yards in both scramble situations as well as designed rushing plays. The Wildcats will be able to gain some yards and score some points against the Ducks.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Marquis Flower, 6-3, 220, Junior, FS; Shaquille Richardson, 6-2, 180, Junior, CB; Kirifi Taula, 6-3, 280, Sophomore, DE

Key Losses: Paul Vassallo, LB; Derek Earls, LB; Robert Golden, SS; Trevin Wade, CB

Key Arrivals: Kyle Kelley, DE, 6-3, 230

Though Mike Stoops was considered a defense oriented coach, it was the defense that needed improvement after a poor 2011 showing that saw the Wildcats give up over 460 yards per game and 35.4 points per game last season.

The Wildcats lost their best players on defense to graduation and will have a tough time replacing them in 2012 with no true "impact" players having signed in the 2012 recruiting class. The Wildcats will likely still need to outscore opponents to win games in 2012.

The defensive line was very young in 2011 and the year of experience should help solidify the line, but now Arizona finds itself in need of replacing two exceptional linebackers and its best cover corner.

The Wildcats will be switching to a 3-3-5 defense in 2012 which should alleviate some of the sting of losing their top three tacklers and top three pass rushers. Sophomore cornerback Jonathan McKnight, who missed 2011 due to injury is currently recovering but should be 100% healthy by fall camp which will help the Wildcats depth in the defensive backfield

Early Defense Prediction: Arizona struggled to contain the Ducks over the last two seasons. The best "secret" to defending the Ducks is with dominant defensive linemen that can disrupt the offense with "push" up the middle. Arizona will not be doing themselves any favors running a 3-3-5 against the Ducks, but they should find themselves better equipped to handle themselves in space. Expect the Wildcats to try and attack the edges with their outside linebackers and defensive backs and try to contain the middle with their young, stout defensive line and a middle linebacker. They will struggle to contain the likes of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Oregon offense should have worked out any early season kinks with the opening three games, this should provide an opportunity for the Ducks to be playing crisp and relatively healthy. Based on the 3-3-5 defense Arizona will be looking to run, expect the Ducks to use the run early to set up passing plays over the middle. The Wildcats will have a difficult time defending the many options Oregon has on offense.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If the Duck defense starts to give up big lays to the newest spread option team in the conference and the offense begins to feel "pressured" to score every time it has the ball, expect the inexperience to begin to show. If that happens, the Ducks could lose in an old-fashioned "wild west" shoot-out type game.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Based on the defensive weaknesses that Arizona has shown and their relatively unimpressive recruiting classes over the last two seasons, do not expect the Wildcats defense to have much bite. Oregon should win this game and move to 4-0 on the season.

Friday, March 9, 2012



Coaching ties. The head coach of Tennessee Tech will be very familiar to one assistant Oregon Coach; John Neal. Prior to taking over the job at his hometown school, Watson Brown was the head coach at none other than University of Alabama-Birmingham. Watson hired John Neal as his secondary coach after Neal had coached the secondary at the University of Mississippi.

Neal coached under Brown for 8 seasons serving as the defensive coordinator for the Blazers his final two seasons before coming to Oregon.


Returning Starters: 7

Key returners: Tre Lamb, QB, 5-9, 185, Junior; Adam Urbano, RB, 5-8, 195, Senior, Slade Adams, OL, 6-6, 315, Senior

Key Losses: Dontey Gay, RB; Tim Benford, WR; Scott Schweitzer, Left Guard

Key Arrivals: Eric Belew, WT, 6-3, 180, Columbia Central HS (Columbia, TN)

Tennessee Tech runs a balanced offense with a small quarterback. Tre Lamb had the second most rushing yards on the team last season, but managed to gain just 213 yards rushing on 109 carries. Though he had lost a lot of yards, he is still a threat to run the ball and has better than average speed. He is like an extra running back that can get “lost in the crowd” behind his offensive line.

Adam Urbano will replace last seasons leading rusher Dontey Gay. He will have big shoes to fill as Gay carried the ball 190 times for 1045 yards and 15 touchdowns. The most impressive stat for Gay was that in 190 carries, he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage just one time for a loss of 4 yards. Urbano saw plenty of action in 2011 as well with 77 carries for 475 yards and a touchdown. His 6.2 yards per carry average is very impressive.

Though the team was balanced in their overall passing and rushing statistics, the team lost its most important receiver in Benford who led the team with 65 receptions for 923 yards and 5 touchdowns. Behind him a slew of running backs caught passes. The second leading wide receiver in 2011, Cody Matthews, caught 12 passes for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Golden Eagles run a spread type offense with two running backs an H-Back a tight end and two wide receivers. Tech is very successful at swinging the ball to the running backs out of the backfield and the H-back. They will be replacing last years strter at the h-back position, but return two very good running abcks. Zach Ziegler (6-0, 200) plays the A-back position and caught 37 passes for 375 yards and 3 touchdowns last season to go with his 33 carries for 128 yards on the ground.

Early Offense Prediction: Expect Tennessee Tech to work side to side with short passes to multiple receivers. The Golden Eagles do not have a lot of speed at the receiver positions, but use multiple receivers to catch the ball. Though their offense performed well in the Ohio Valley Conference last season averaging 410.5 yards per game, they did not play particularly well against the better teams they faced. Tennessee Tech is a notch above Missouri State for comparative purposes, but not significantly. Expect Tennessee Tech to struggle against the Ducks defense.


Returning Starters: 5

Key returners: Marcus Edwards, DE/LB 6-1, 240, Senior; Austin Tallant, FS, 5-11, 185, Sophomore; Jordan Johnsopn, DT, 5-11, 285, Junior

Key Losses: Jake McIntosh, ILB; Rishmond Tooley, CB; Corey Watson, CB

Key Arrivals: None

Tennessee Tech was one of the better defenses in the Ohio Valley Conference giving up just 352 yards per game in 2011. The Golden Eagles play a hybrid 3-4 defense with a “Bear” defensive end position that plays either DE or linebacker. Their defense is not big, it gets to teams with a tenacity and aggression that relies more on quickness than strength.

As a freshman Austin Tallant led the Golden Eagles in tackles with 92 total tackles. Though he played free safety, he played mostly in run support. Another freshman defender last season, Cory Webber played the rover position for Tech and pitched in with an additional 35 tackles on the season. The best cover corner was not a starter but led the Golden Eagles with 3 interceptions including 2 that were taken back for touchdowns. He also led the team with 10 passes defended.

Marcus Edwards, a part-time starter in 2011, was a very effective pass rusher as he led the team with 9.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks on the season. He will likely be called on a lot against the very fast Oregon offense to try and slow down the Ducks on the edge.

Early Defense Prediction: Tennessee Tech has two very important factors working against them in this game; size and speed. In the Ohio Valley Conference, the Golden Eagles have good size and speed and swarm tot he ball very well. But they are over-matched here. They are not particularly big up front and will not be able to generate much penetration. On the edges, the Golden Eagles lack the elite speed to contain known commodities like De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks will win this game. There are not many “if” situations that provide a scenario where the Ducks do not win. However, the Ducks will win by more than 45 points if they are crisp and play every play as if this were against a Pac-12 school. If the Ducks do not turn the ball over and are able to generate defensive pressure and turnovers, the Ducks will be emptying the bend early.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: This is not really a game the Ducks can lose. However, if the team plays sloppy and turns the ball over, it will not be a pretty game and could see the Ducks scoring less than 35 points which would be a moral victory for the Golden Eagles.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Oregon with a very large margin of victory.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012



Coaching change. Fresno State was long known under former coach Pat Hill for the “anywhere, anytime” mantra. His team took that to heart and played anyone. In the early part of the last decade, that mantra was worn with pride as Fresno State went about their business with exceptional results. The rise of other non AQ powers relegated Fresno State to the lower echelon of college football finishing the 2011 season with a 4-9 record.

Like Oregon's first opponent, its second is also breaking in a new coach. Tim DeRuyter arrived at Fresno State after working as the defensive coordinator for Texas A&M for the past two seasons. Despite their poor defense in 2011, DeRuyter has had an excellent record at turning defenses around. DeRuyter runs a 3-4 defense and employs aggressive schemes on defense.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Derek Carr, QB, 6-3, 205, Redshirt Junior; Robbie Rouse, RB, 5-7, 185, Junior, Jalen Saunders, WR, 5-9, 160, Junior

Key Losses: Bryce Harris, LT; Devon Wylie, WR; Ryan Skidmore, TE

Key Arrivals: None

Dave Schramm arrives as the offensive coordinator after spending seven season with the University of Utah. Schramm has three exceptional weapons in his arsenal with the return of Carr, Rouse and Saunders.

Derek Carr is the younger brother of former number one pick David Carr. Despite the teams poor record last season, Carr performed well throwing the ball a lot for the Bulldogs and completing 279-446 for 3544 yards, 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Carr lost his left tackle to graduation after the 2011 season, but he has 3 returning linemen with plenty of experience.

Catching the ball from Carr will be a primary deep threat, Jalen Saunders. Saunders led the team in receiving yards last season with 50 receptions for 1065 yards and 12 touchdowns. Saunders' 21.3 yards per catch was second best in the nation. The Bulldogs also welcome the return of possession receiver Rashad Evans. Another returning starter from 2011 Evans added 44 catches for 351 yards last season. The key departure from this group is departed senior Devon Wylie. Wylie led the team in receptions with 56 catches for 716 yards and a touchdown of his own.

The running game was a one man show for the Bulldogs. Robbie Rouse was 7th in the nation in rushing yards and 9th in yards per game last season. Rouse carried the ball 329 times for 1549 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Rouse is also deadly out of the backfield with 32 receptions for 228 yards and 1 touchdown.

Early Offense Prediction: New offensive coordinator Dave Schramm has plenty of weapons to work with at Fresno State. After watching the Duck defensive backs give up some big plays against USC, you can be sure that Schramm will try to go deep on the Ducks and stretch the field vertically. IF Fresno State can get the passing game going early, it will allow plenty of running room for Rouse. Should the game turn into a shootout, Fresno State certainly has a lot of weapons to work with again this season. Though Fresno State put up a respectable 412 yards per game of total offense, they turned those yards into just 28.5 points per game. The Bulldogs will move the ball at times and will pose a challenge offensively. Fresno State will likely score some points and keep the game tight into the second half of the game.


Returning Starters: 8

Key returners: Travis Brown, 6-2, 235, OLB, Senior; Matt Akers, 6-2, 245, DE, Senior; L.J. Jones, 5-11, 180, CB, Junior

Key Losses: Logan Harrell, DT; Chase McEntee, DT; Kyle Knox, OLB

Key Arrivals: None

The best defensive player in 2011 is also their biggest loss heading into the 2012 season. The defense must replace Logan Harrell who accounted for 71 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 6 sacks out of his defensive tackle position. Also gone is Chase McEntee who played nose tackle for the Bulldogs (in their terminology) in 2011. These losses notwithstanding, the team returns its leading tackler for 2011 (Brown) and leading defensive playmaker (Jones) from last season.

Despite the gaudy numbers put up by the top three players on this unit in 2011, the defense gave up 435 total yards per game on the season including 167 yards per game rushing and 269 yards per game through the air. DeRuyter will look to bring a different life to this team with his 304 attacking defense that he has been so successful with prior to his arrival at Fresno State. Do not let Texas A&M's struggles in 2011 fool you into thinking that DeRuyter is not an exceptional defensive coach. He has had success turning defenses around at every stop and will have a lot of key elements back to help him make this team better in 2012.

Early Defense Prediction: Fresno State will not be intimidated by Autzen Stadium and Coach DeRuyter will have his team ready to play on defense. They will be aggressive and attack the Ducks young quarterback. What DeRuyter and the Fresno State defense will be missing is speed to the edge and depth. Those factors will loom large as the game wears on and the Ducks begin to employ their plethora of weapons. Do not be surprised if the Bulldogs keep Oregon out of the end zone early in this game and make the game close for a while; their defense will be ready to play. However, due to the lack of depth and speed at the linebacker position, expect the Ducks to be able to move the ball well and score a lot of points.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks will win if they keep the Bulldog passing game in front of them and do not make any mental errors on defense. As always, the Ducks will need to limit their turnovers on offense and play crisp football, executing the offense and continuing to put pressure on the Bulldog defense.

OREGON WILL LOSE IF: If Oregon comes out flat on offense and makes mental errors on defense allowing Fresno State to jump to an early lead, it could be a long day for Duck fans. Fresno State has enough offensive weapons to make the Ducks pay for their mistakes. If the Ducks turn the ball over early, look for Fresno State to attack and try to take the home field advantage away quickly.

PREDICTED OUTCOME: Close early, but Oregon's speed and depth should provide enough of a difference to win comfortably.

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Look: Arkansas State

Today the first in my new series came out. This month I will be looking in-depth at each of Oregon's 2012 opponents and posting those reviews through a series of articles on Duck Sports Authority.

The first opponent, Arkansas State is the subject of today's article. While the team brings in Gus Malzahn (former Auburn Offensive Coordinator) and Michale Dyer (A transfer from Auburn) is now a member of the team, the Red Wolves still have a tremendous uphill battle to play against the Ducks in Autzen. it is not yet decided if Dyer will be eligible.

On the defensive side of the ball, this team was completely gutted by graduation. 10 starters from 2011 are gone.

Today, Duck Sports Authority begins its coverage of the 2012 football season with a new feature. During the month of March, we will take an early look at each of the Ducks 12 opponents for the 2012 season. We are looking at an overview of what to expect from each team and what the key pieces each team loses, gains and retains for the upcoming season.

Today we begin this feature with a look at Oregon's first opponent, Arkansas State.


Coaching change. The Arkansas State Wolves replaced the departed Hugh Freeze. Freeze coached at Arkansas State for just one season and led them to a 10-3 record before moving to Ole Miss replacing Houston Nutt as head coach. Stepping in to replace the spread oriented is another coach known for his innovation, Gus Malzahn.

Malzahn is known to Duck fans from his tenure with the Auburn Tigers as their offensive coordinator. He got his start at the college level working for Houston Nutt at the University of Arkansas before moving on to become the offensive coordinator at Tulsa. Malzahn's offense has had success where ever he has coached and expect him to keep Arkansas State's offense playing as well in 2012 as it did in the 2011 season.


Returning Starters: 6

Key returners: Ryan Aplin, QB, 6-1, 205, Redshirt Senior; Frankie Jackson, RB, 5-9, 185, Redshirt Sophomore, Taylor Stockemer, WR, 6-4, 210, Redshirt Senior, Josh Jarobe, 6-3, 215, Senior

Key Losses: Delano Moore, LT, Alex Kauti LG Tom Castilaw, Center

Key Arrivals: Michael Dyer, RB, 5-9, 210, Junior (transfer, Auburn)

Quarterback Ryan Aplin, the main offensive weapon in 2011 returns. Expect that Malzahin will use him as well in 2012 as last season. Aplin was the most dominant player for the Arkansas State team throwing 340-476 for 3588 yards and 19 touchdowns. Aplin was also the teams leading rusher with 161 carries for 588 yards and an additional 10 touchdowns.

The offense was explosive at times averaging...

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