Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
2013 Record: 11-2
2014 Achilles Heel: Rush defense
Oregon will return almost its entire offense from last year, including Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota at quarterback.
That will leave the Ducks with one question—and it's a question they've heard before. Can UO defend well enough to win a national title?
They defended the pass pretty well last year, only allowing more than 300 yards through the air twice. However, their run defense killed their national title hopes.
Oregon was smashed by Stanford and ripped by Arizona, falling short of the Pac-12 title.
Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich addressed the hot-button issue of physicality in March, per Andrew Greif, The Oregonian.
We’re trying to obviously get a little bigger, a little more physical, all those things and with that there’s an element of risk but we’re relatively healthy for this time of year coming out of the phase of strength training and building. You watch your entire offseason the offense and defense and special teams … it's just the little tiny fraction that would have been the difference in a successful play.
If they want to go from great to elite, the Ducks will have to have a defense that can pick up the slack if the offense falters at all.