Chris Finocchio, Content Director here at Bleacher Report, asked me to participate in an Oregon Roundtable discussion. He poses the following questions.
• The Oregon pass defense was ranked 86 in the country last year. With Patrick Chung, Walter Thurmond and Jairus Byrd returning and Nick Reed rushing off the edge is this going to be enough to contain the wide-open offenses of the Pac 10?
Answer: The returning corners, Thurmond and Byrd, will be playing together for the third consecutive year and will be impressive. Chung will be playing his senior season and shouldn't have to worry as much about the run with Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu rushing off the ends. The linebacker corps (John Bacon, Jerome Boyd and Kevin Garrett) proved less than inspiring last year but they gained valuable experience. Look for the defense to make a substantial improvement over last year.
• What do you guys think about Quarterback Justin Roper's ability to lead this Ducks team after coming off a 6TD 2 interception freshmen year?
Answer: This is the single biggest question mark in the minds of Oregon fans. I am not so sure that Roper will gain the starters job. While we didn't get to see Nate Costa at the Spring Game, he was leading the depth chart before he tore his ACL in practice last year. There are several other QB's fighting for the job too, Kempt, Cooper, Thomas, Harper, & Masoli. I think Oregon will do more running during the opening games as the starting QB gets his rhythm. Bottom line, I think Roper has the inside track and proved himself in the Sun Bowl.
• Is Andre Crenshaw going to be able to carry the load and keep Oregon's potent rushing attack among the Pac 10's best?
Answer: Crenshaw is going to get a lot of help from LeGarrette Blount, he is impressive. While he may not have the speed of Jonathan Stewart, he is a force to be reckoned with. Combine that with Jeremiah Johnson's quickness, cutting ability and heart and I see no let down in our running game.
• Thoughts on the 2008 Schedule?
Answer: Very tough road schedule against WSU, USC, ASU, Cal, and Oregon State. I think the best we can hope for this year is 8-4 or 9-3.
• Are BCS aspirations realistic?
Answer: Not likely but the Ducks have surprised us before.
• With Chip Kelly's success as offensive coordinator, is defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti under pressure to perform now?
Answer: I think Nick's job is safe as long as Bellotti is the coach. I think the defense will be asked to carry the team during the first couple of games while the new QB and offense gel and I feel the defense, together with Aliotti will respond.