Oregon looks to make some noise this season in the Pac-10. With Mike Bellotti taking the job as Athletic Director, Chip Kelly has taken over the Ducks and is looking to stay involved with the offense.
Last season Kelly transformed Jeremiah Masoli into a confident passer. Unlike 2007, when Chip Kelly was working with Dennis Dixon before his injury, Jeremiah will return for another year.
In '08 the Ducks went (10-3) overall and (7-2) in conference play. The only losses for the Ducks last year came to powerhouse USC, the Golden Bears of Cal, and Boise State.
Their receiving corps lost two starters but in the midst emerged Jamere Holland. Junior college transfer Lavasier Tuinei and Tyrece Gaines are also expected to help the Ducks next season.
For the Ducks to have a successful 2009 season, they will need significant contributions from three key positions.
Jereimah Mosli advanced from potential redshirt and the fifth quarterback in camp to a 10-game starter and the Pac-10’s third-most efficient passer—45th nationally in 2008! He has great talent coming from Junior college and being so efficient. Masoli is going to have to be consistent next season for the Ducks beat teams like USC and the California Golden Bears.
T.J. Ward, Oregon's leader in tackles (101), tied for fifth in the conference (7.8 avg.) as a first-year starter. He earned third-team (Phil Steele Publications) and honorable mention (coaches) Pacific-10 all-conference accolades.
Ward tied for second on the squad with eight pass breakups. His 5.5 tackles for loss were the second most by a defensive back! He made 10 or more tackles on four occasions, including a career-best 14 vs. Stanford. Ward also forced a pair of fumbles at California while recording 10 tackles! He also contributed 11 tackles against UCLA as well as 10 vs. Arizona.
I think it's clear why this guy is the second key to a lot of wins for Oregon.
1. Running back
LeGarrette Blount is the heart and soul of this Oregon Ducks team. He was the leading rusher last season on this Oregon team with 1,002 yards. LeGarrette is a big returning guy for Oregon, after flirting with the NFL in the off season, he was suspended for missing classes and workouts.
There is no doubt about it, Blount is a physical style running back that will lay down the wood. It will be interesting to see how this healthy team can do in the 2009-2010 season.
These are just a few players to mention. I was thinking about Casey Matthews, one of Oregon's best linebackers, or Walter Thurmond, who recorded five picks last season.
There is no doubt that other talented players on this team are worth mentioning, but these are the biggest.
I would love to hear what Duck fans have to say about next season and who will be the leader of the team?