5 Reasons Oregon Ducks' Fans Should Relax About 2012

Christopher NicholasContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2012

5 Reasons Oregon Ducks' Fans Should Relax About 2012

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    Oregon Duck fans: It's going to be okay.

    Want to know why? Read the article and find out.

    The Oregon Ducks may not be the front runner for the Pac-12 right now, and only time will tell, but here are five good reasons you should sit back and relax till Labor day.

    And besides, it's been a while since the Ducks were underdogs and made a big upset. My friend Jimmy the Greek loved an underdog, so here's hoping the Ducks can pull off an upset next season. 

De'Anthony Thomas

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    The 19 touchdowns should be enough for this slide. But what the heck, I've got time.

    Just get Thomas the ball in space and the rest should handle itself. If Chip Kelly knows one thing, it's how to get his playmakers the ball.

    Who knows, he may even throw a touchdown pass this year, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. Keep it simple and use Thomas to create mismatches and exploit a defense's weakness. If the Ducks can get him the ball enough, defenses will start focusing too much on him and leave other players wide open.

    I have a feeling next year this video will be twice as long.

The Defense

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    Believe it or not, the Oregon Duck defense did well in 2011. When it was all said and done, Oregon finished fourth in the nation in sacks with 44. They also did a great job in the second half making adjustments to shut down opponents and give backup players a decent amount of mock up time.

    With three players returning at each level (I count Kiko Alonso and Bo Lokombo due to extensive rotation time), the Ducks defense should be reminiscent of the 2010 season.

    The exposed corners should be better since they will all be sophomores next year with a full season under their belts. Expect the run defense to be better as well—they will only lose one starter and one backup.

Kenjon Barner

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    Finally Barner will get to step in the spotlight full time. 

    He had two starts against Arizona State and Colorado. He did well, although he played against subpar talent. It will be interesting to see how he does getting the rock 15-20 times a game consistently. But after averaging six yards a carry for three years, I think his speed and elusiveness will make it extremely hard for teams to slow him down.

    He also has had big moments that may have been clouded by LaMichael James. In 2009, it was he who got the pitch in the Civil War to convert on 4th-and-2.

    He had two touchdowns and over 100 yards against USC this year, and he is a dangerous kick return man—although I doubt he will get many opportunities this season.

    He also has much better hands than LaMichael James, so expect to see more screens and wheel routes this season.  

The Loss to USC

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    Being from Southern California, this one hurts especially. But imagine where the Ducks were in 2006—a lowly Pac-10 team just happy to see a bowl game in December. Since then, the Ducks have split six games with the Trojans, often determining the winner of the conference.

    I'm okay with that, even if you are on the three-year-high of Chip Kelly and think that the world is coming to an end because he loses a game against a good team.

    The Cal game in 2010 was nerve-wracking. Trust me, I was there.

    The Cal game in 2011 was nerve-wracking, but for a whole other reason. Chip Kelly knew what Cal was going to do and exploited it (via California Golden Blogs).

    I highly recommend that link because it will show that Chip Kelly wasn't twiddling his thumbs, or being harassed by passersby over the offseason. Chip will undoubtedly be prepared for USC next season and so will the defense. The returning players who might have overlooked this game because they were more focused on possibly getting back to the Natty to play LSU.

Bryan Bennett

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    To be honest, I am not sold on Bennett. Neither should you.

    I know people were calling him to Darron Thomas in the middle of the season, but why? Darron had just taken the Ducks to the national championship and then you want to replace him with a redshirt freshman? How much of Oregon's finest have you been smoking?

    The only thing more appealing about Bennett is that he is a better runner than Thomas. Kelly kept the playbook simple with Bennett so there would be no chance he could screw things up. I will say that I am excited to see a running quarterback again, but don't expect big time throws unless he commits to his development.

    I'm also glad that he does have a start under his belt with plenty of playing time.