Oregon Football: What We Want to See in Fall Camp
We're almost there, buddies. Only eight days until fall football practice starts.
After several months of watching last year's stars go off to the NFL, analyzing the Ducks' spring game down to the most minute detail, trying to read between the lines of players' tweets and following the recruiting trail, we are finally getting close to playing some football.
It's a beautiful time of year. Filled with all the hope and promise of a new season. Getting out all your Duck gear and making sure it's ready for the first game. My husband says it's too soon to put the pom-poms and Oregon flags on the car, but I can at least wash my favorite Duck tees and set them out with my lucky Duck earrings and Rose Bowl beads.
Do you think it's premature to make a packing list for the trip to Miami for The Natty?
Probably. So instead, let's take a look at what we hope to see in fall camp starting August 6.
Are All the New Guys Enrolled and Accounted For?
The class of 2012 is an exciting one. From Texas twins Eric and Stephen Amoako to Howie Long's son, Kyle Long, the new kids on the block are loaded with talent, size and speed.
Checking the roster on GoDucks.com, it looks like all the 2012 freshmen, plus JC transfers senior Kyle Long and junior place-kicker Dylan Ausherman, have enrolled and are in Eugene.
I got excited just reading their names on the roster. While I believe that a little too much attention is paid to the incoming freshmen because it will be the upperclassmen, for the most part, that will get the job done, it's still nice to see names like Byron Marshall, Pharaoh Brown and Bralon Addison listed as official Ducks.
I can't tell you this with absolute certainty yet, but it looks like all the new kids are in Eugene and ready to go. From their tweets, it appears that they have settled in with teammates as housing roommates and are chomping at the bit to get going.
Is the Team in Shape?
I don't begin to understand the NCAA rules about how players and coaches can get together during the offseason. I don't know if, for instance, Oregon conditioning/fitness coach Jim Radcliffe is allowed to work with the players during the summer or not.
Are the guys on their own to stay in shape? Can groups of players meet to work out together? Can Radcliffe go one-on-one with guys needing more physical coaching?
Because of Oregon's style of play, it seems that it would be so much easier to learn the system and the plays if everyone shows up in peak physical condition on August 6. Guys that have to use most of August to work themselves into game condition are going to be behind.
I want to hear from the coaches early on that conditioning is ahead of schedule.
Leadership Is Firmly Established
When you look at the new roster, one thing that jumps out is how many freshmen and red-shirt freshmen are listed. It's going to be important that the old hands step up and show the youngsters the ropes.
The 2012 Ducks are blessed with natural leaders. Guys like John Boyett (John Boyett for Heisman), Michael Clay, Carson York and Dion Jordan should take the newbies under their large wings and make sure they know what's what.
Coaches can only do so much to acclimate the freshmen. Last year, Chip Kelly worked one-on-one with De'Anthony Thomas in August, and that produced a pretty good result. But he can't do that with every new freshman, and neither can the assistant coaches.
So, it's up to the experienced older players to help the new guys learn everything from where to stand on the field to how to find their classrooms.
This year's class is lucky; they have some terrific role models.
A Focused Secondary
In an ideal world, Nick Aliotti would come out of the first day of practice on August 6 and announce to the media that this is the best secondary in college football. The best he's ever seen in all his years of coaching and that no team will complete a pass against us.
Santa, if you're reading this, that's what I want for Christmas.
But barring intervention by Santa, we need to hear that during fall camp, defensive backs like Terrance Mitchell and Troy Hill are playing fast and smart. That they are being pushed by guys like Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and the Amoako twins, and that the quality of the competition is high.
The offense and the defensive line are solid and do not need to be worried about. But a weak secondary in this league of great quarterbacks, wide receivers and pass-happy coaches will cause grief once conference play starts.
Give us the gift of an awesome secondary, Santa, and take the night off.
OK, Ducks. Get your personal lives under control, or, better yet, don't have one. Show up next week fit, sober and ready to rock 'n roll.
And Duck fans, you have some responsibilities in August too. Warm up your vocal cords and get your voices game ready. Buy game tickets and get your transportation and lodging booked for any away game you can afford because...this is the year.
LET'S GO DUCKS!