Oregon Ducks Football: 5 Keys to the 2012 Season
With the national signing day behind the Oregon staff, the attention is now being placed on offseason workouts, spring practice and the 2012 football season.
Oregon has won the past three Pac-12 conference titles and they are looking for a fourth this season. While they certainly have the talent, they will look different in 2012 than they have the past three seasons.
Here is a look at five keys to the 2012 season that will determine if the Ducks have a successful or letdown of a season.
Kenjon Barner Carrying the Load
After hoping that LaMichael James would return, Duck fans got the news that he would be moving on to the NFL and then received word that Kenjon Barner almost followed him right out the door.
In the end, Barner is back, and the Ducks will lean on him to carry the load, something he is not used to.
While Barner has proved he can do it on a game-by-game basis, he has yet to see what it is like to do it all season long.
Bryan Bennett Living Up to Expectations
While many believe that there will be a quarterback competition, Bryan Bennett has all of the tools that is needed for him to be extremely successful in coach Chip Kelly's offense.
With the ability to run and pass, Bennett is an exact fit for the Oregon offense; but now it is time to see that ability be put to the test.
In 2011, Bennett was on the field in clean-up duty but also saw action in key spots like a start at Colorado and then at home against both Arizona State and Washington State.
Oregon Secondary Grows Up
With some injuries and suspensions, Oregon and its coaching staff was forced into a situation where they had to start some young players in the secondary; and they are hoping that it can result in big dividends this year.
Players like Troy Hill, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Terrance Mitchell and Dior Mathis will all be counted on and need to be ready for when the Ducks head to Southern Cal when they take on USC.
Winning at USC
Speaking of USC, Oregon has a relatively easy schedule until they head on the road to play the Trojans in the last quarter of the season. With the new format of the Pac-12, this game could ultimately determine who will have home-field advantage in the conference championship.
With Washington being their only test before this game, the offensive line, defense and quarterback situations should all be settled and prepared for this game.
With the losses of Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, Oregon will need to find offense and explosion elsewhere and they need to look no further than De'Anthony Thomas.
During his true freshman season, Thomas exploded into college football and showed the nation that the Ducks' rushing attack was in good hands.
As good as James was at Oregon, Thomas has the possibility to have an even bigger impact over his time.
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