This article is solely to matchup Oregon with the non-conference teams they play this season. (As they wear the new 2009 uniforms pictured above!)
This includes Boise St, followed by home games against Purdue then Utah I'll evaluate which team is the toughest, the strengths and weaknesses of each team, and how I feel the game will play out.
I hope you enjoy the article, as I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the research.
Sept. 3—Boise, Idaho—AT Boise St.
Boise St. is without a doubt our toughest opposition. Boise is always a dark horse, and it's extremely hard for them to land a BCS bid due to being in the WAC. With that being the case, they're always hungry to get as high as they can, and occasionally go undefeated.
It's also interesting to note that while we're both 7-3 over the last 10 years on season openers, the Ducks are 1-2 on the road, while the Broncos are 6-0 at home.
There are only 11 returning starters for the Broncos. Ian Johnson, and star receivers left for the NFL. I hear good things about Pettis though, he'll be one to watch.
As a Freshman Kellen Moore performed great as a Quarterback. He put up over 3,000 yards, and should improve through the training camps and be even better this year. He'll look to receivers Pettis and Young down field this year, as Moore aims to impress again as a Sophomore.
Ryan Winterswyk leads the defense at end, where the stud leads a defense filled with talent such as two returning starters at CB—Kyle Wilson, and Brandyn Thompson, and two returning starter Safties—Jeron Johnson and George Iloka.
The D-Line, while having star Winterswyk, is perhaps the weakest spot on the defense with inexperienced tackles. Coach Petersen even said he's more concerned about the Defensive Line then anything else on defense. If Oregon can utilize our running game and Blount, we can gain some major yardage.
Another thing to worry about for Boise fans is the Offensive Line. Coaches stated they were concerned, and they should be. They started 11 different combinations on the roster last year, and as a result had a troubled running game. Namely against Oregon whom they only rushed for 38 yards.
There were several injuries to the line during the offseason, and it could prove fatal against the Ducks experienced defense. Especially with an inexperienced Quarterback being put under pressure so often, as good as he may seem.
The Broncos will really test Masoli, and his true skills as a starting Quarterback. They have a great defensive backfield. We'll have to find a way to beat them before we can beat Boise St.
Let's also consider that they're at home. They haven't lost in Boise since September of 2001. Let that sink in.
The Matchup: Broncos by a Touchdown.
It should be a really, really good game. It usually is between these two. I'll be very interested to see how Masoli and our new line-up of receivers can do against their defense.
It'll also be interesting to see how our new Head Coach opens up the season, and uses LeGarrette Blount in the running game.
All in all Boise DOES NOT disappoint at home. They have a killer defense, and we have a bit of a new offense. I will root for my Ducks till death, but I don't see them winning this one.
Sept 12—Eugene, Ore.—VS. Purdue
When we played Purdue last year in Indiana, we edged them out in Overtime. I don't believe that to be the case this year. This year, it'll be easier.
The teams have only met twice in history, once last year and then in 1979. The series is tied 1-1.
An interesting note is that all the "minor" polls released by magazines and such show Oregon pretty much between 13-16. The highest I've seen is 6. Purdue? Well, they're not on there of course.
And there aren't very many. Purdue is struggling. While they are a great school academically, it's a whole 'nother story on the Football field.
Quarterback is perhaps the biggest issue, with their starter leaving...but in the running is standout Caleb Turbush. Head Coach Danny Hope called him the best natural passer they have.
Purdue also has an experienced secondary looking to lead the defense, and possibly put a stop to Masoli and Co. come September.
A lot easier to find then the strengths, are their flaws. Coach Danny Hope has a lot of work to do before Purdue can hope for a decent bowl game.
The Quarterback, as previously mentioned, is a big problem. They need a new one, and the other one their considering for the starting job—Joey Elliot—has an injury.
For a lack of people on the roster, a lot of players have had to switch positions. Among them, was starting Cornerback Royce Adams who is now the fastest Wide Receiver. Here's the problem: he's not a receiver. He's a defender. He needs to get the mindset of a receiver, and learn the routes.
It also makes for a worse defense that was ranked (run) 93, and (pass) 25. Though the passing defense wasn't bad at all, remember that some Cornerbacks are being turned into Wide Receivers (Cornerback wasn't the only position being switched around), which leaves the defensive backfield quite a bit weaker.
There really isn't a test for Oregon this game. I think they just need to show up, put pressure on their Quarterback, get the ball in the hands of our receivers, and we'll win.
The Matchup: Ducks by two-three Touchdowns
They lost last year, and we can expect to see the same result. I don't think Ducks fans need to worry, and can mark this game as a win.
Sept 19—Eugene, Ore.—VS. Utah
This is our wild card in my opinion. For some reason I always seem to underestimate the Utes, and they always surprise me. I think this game could go either way, seeing as how great they were last year, but lost most of their starters for the upcoming season.
Utah is, like Boise St, always unappreciated simply because of their conference. Hopefully these prejudices will be put to rest after they took down Alabama last year in the Sugar Bowl.
The talent level is high in Utah, really really high. Inexperience comes into play, but the Ute squad this year could actually improve from last year. How do you improve 13-0? Well, technically if you look at it that way you can't.
But they're growing, and Coach Whittingham is doing a good job there at keeping quality players on his roster. Included, are the Saftey tandem of Joe Dale and Robert Johnson could be the best in the Mountain West Conference. The O-Line led by Zane Beadles and Caleb Schlauderaff will also prove studly.
If they can give Louks (or Cain, whichever one they start) enough protection, it could prove deadly and result in quite a few touchdowns.
The main thing to watch for with Utah is the corners. A few articles I read stated this is the biggest area of concern, and also could be very strong.
They're very fast, but how's their coverage? That'll be the question heading into the season. Another big concern is the fact most of the major stars left. They only have four returning starters on offense, including the linemen and the Tight End.
If Masoli plays good, gets the ball to our receivers, we might be able to beat em. Of course, if they've proven their wonderful coverage skills, we could be in trouble.
It hasn't been said who the starting Quarterback is, but if we can pressure him enough, and if our secondary can cover the Receivers well enough, we could see a great day for our defense.
It will really test our offensive line in this game. They have an experienced defensive line, and middle linebacker. We have two new offensive linemen this year starting. They'll really have to step up to the plate to ward off Utah's line in order to keep Masoli out of trouble.
Every game it seems, tests Masoli. His ability to lead the team a whole season. True, he shined last year in a couple games, but can he do it again? If the line does their job, then Masoli should be able to hit his receivers to beat the secondary.
If our o-line holds up, Masoli passes to Cavielle and co., and the corners aren't magnificent, we can win the game.
The Matchup: Oregon by 2-3
This, as the Boise game, will be a close one. Utah is a great team no doubt. But I believe Oregon is better. I think it really comes down to how much they pressure Masoli, and how he handles it.
All in all, I see Oregon wrappin' up the non-conference games with a W.