Pac-10: The Appetizer of Media Day Is Over, the 2010 Main Course Is Set!

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Pac-10: The Appetizer of Media Day Is Over, the 2010 Main Course Is Set!
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

With the buzz spreading regarding the release of the Pac-10 Conference media poll, the talk has revolved around offense, and with the West Coast pass-happy league, that topic is a classic description. The quarterback names have filled journalists’ notepads, and even journeyed through the ESPN studios, but the topic that has stirred the pot remains, “who will complete their team by playing defense?”

Oregon has been on the rise ever since the Dennis Dixon days and the rise of Chip Kelly, and the reason behind their quest for the roses has been due to the simple fact that no defense has consistently been able to stop it!

In 2009, the Ducks scored 35 or more points in nine of their 13 games. The Ducks only lost one game in which they scored 40 plus points, and that was against the Toby Gerhart running machine known as the Stanford Cardinal. Another nightmare for defensive coordinators Gerhart is in the NFL now and will not be causing sleepless nights anytime soon.

The Oregon Ducks on the other hand, are a different story. Chip Kelly’s offense makes me think of the old saying: “you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them.” And to be quite honest, it is true!

There is no doubt about it; Oregon has the firepower to win the conference, but just like many other schools in the conference, the Ducks are breaking in a new quarterback.  

The Ducks’ slated starter, fifth-year Senior Nate Costa is relatively inexperienced due to his class standing. Despite only collecting 270 yards and two touchdowns, Costa has proven to be clutch in limited duty, leading the Ducks to a key Pac-10 road victory at UCLA in his lone start last year. 

Oregon’s other option at offensive leader is Darron Thomas, who was featured in 2008 scoring four touchdowns and totaling 295 yards of offense. 

No matter who is running the show in Eugene, Chip Kelly has the formula to over match defenses. The quick paced, up-tempo style that brings together a dominant rushing attack and big play ability through the air has graced the Pac-10 with a West Coast version of a dominant power running game that old school football fans enjoy.

In the Ducks' 2009 Rose Bowl campaign, their rushing statistics were mouth watering to say the least, totaling 3,012 yards and 38 touchdowns.  This Fall, Kelly is replacing one of his top three rushing leaders, Jeremiah Masoli, while LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner should continue the dominance for the ground attack.

I am one of the apparently many believers that believes, even with the loss of Jeremiah Masoli, the Oregon offense is going to command respect and dish out another offensive firework show this season. Before anyone even begins to analyze their defense, the offensive numbers jump off the media guide. Over 5,000 yards would stand out in any conference.

Don’t cut the Oregon defense short either! The points against total does not stand out as an impressive number, but when your offense is scoring on average fifteen more points than their opponents, your team is usually in pretty good shape! Although the Ducks hit two speed bumps in 2009 versus Boise State and Stanford, this season looks to shape up quite nicely on the schedule for fans in Eugene, and if another Rose Bowl appearance is in sight, the defensive stars will lend more than a helping hand.

Players like Casey Mathews and Kenny Rowe have blossomed for the Ducks on defense, as well as made a name for themselves in Pac-10 circles, but this season Oregon would like to elevate the defense into a similar high praising conversation that the offensive juggernauts garner.

The national media hype this Summer has focused on the big quarterbacks in the Pac-10: Jake Locker (Washington), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Matt Barkley (USC), and Nick Foles (Arizona). All the while people are wondering which defense is going to step up and form a complete and total football team from the top of the roster to the bottom.

The media poll seems to lean in the Oregon Ducks' direction, only by a slim three votes, but with USC playing for the logo on their helmets in 2010, the aggression and passion will be exciting to see week after week.

The bottom line is that the Pac-10 Conference has tremendous parity heading into Fall camp.  Just by judging the demeanor and approach displayed by the coaches up and down the conference at media day, everyone is anxious to take the field. From the top of the poll down to even No. 9 Arizona State, the heated battles on Saturdays are going to be downright entertaining to watch.

Parity in the Pac-10 is so evident that even the eighth ranked UCLA Bruins received a first place vote! As a fan of primetime offensive showcases and attractive football, 2010 should be an exciting season to say the least on the West Coast, and Oregon is just the appetizer. I think I speak for all football fans when I say, “lets start the main course!” 


 

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