The Oregon Ducks are loaded up and ready to make a run to return to the National Championship game for the second straight year. After falling just minutes short of winning college football's most prestigious game, and with many of the starters returning from last year, the Ducks should find themselves at the top of the national rankings when the season starts.
Darron Thomas was a monster in 2010. Can he repeat his success in 2011?
One of the main reasons Oregon should be favored going into the year is because the team is returning many of their star players. Now, of course, this can be disputed by the fact that they are losing three of the five starting offensive lineman from 2010 and 12 of the 22 starters on both offense and defense, but keep in mind who is coming back.
The offense will be hurt by their departure as the Ducks online was arguably the best in the nation last year. They gave up only 10 sacks over the course of their 2010 season, as well as leading the nation in rushing. However, the ground game is intact; in fact, it may be better than ever.
Heisman finalist LaMichael James returns with QB Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner to complete one of the most ferocious and dangerous rushing attacks in all of college football. With the trio coming back to Oregon, this team will have more than enough power to produce a ton of wins for this football team.
The defense is still packed with playmakers, and if the offensive line can hold up well enough for Darron Thomas to run for five touchdowns, pass for another 30 TDs and rush for nearly 500 yards like he did in 2010, then the team will be just fine.
During winter workouts, the trio of Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner blew away the clocks in the speed drills and dropped jaws as they posted incredible times. However, it's not just this trio of Ducks that are capable of burning up the field.
It's also not just the players that cause this team to be so fast. It is the blazing fast tempo of the offense that made the 2010 Oregon Ducks unstoppable, and we expect to see more of it in 2011.
If you look at the Ducks 2010 splits and view the time of possession, you would see that Oregon held the ball for only an average of 27:54 while their opponents held it for 32:05. Usually, when you see numbers like that, it indicates an offense that struggled. But in this case, it was that the offense literally couldn't hold the ball very long because they were too busy scoring with it.
In 2010, the Ducks had outscored their opponents by an average of 28.3 points. Most teams struggle to even get to 28 points alone. They commonly were seen lining up under center and snapping off a new play under 20 seconds after the last one had ended. This offense baffled defenses with its demand to always be on your toes, having to call out a new defensive play in almost a moments notice and to have to rush to make any kind of substitutions if any at all.
The offense was truly something special. It's ridiculous to hold the 2011 Ducks to such amazing standards, but if they can come with the same explosiveness and home-run hitting plays we saw last year, expect this team to be hard to stop yet again.
Oregon Will Be Rocking This Fall.
Okay, it's not the "quack quack quack" chant that is the No. 1 reason the Ducks should be ranked No. 1 going into 2011. But "the quack attack" is going to be back in full force and that's a great reason in itself.
Teams usually break up when they have the kind of success this team had last year, as many of the starters usually bolt for the NFL. But not these Ducks. Many of the stars have stayed in Oregon to finish the business they left on the field against Auburn in the National Title Game, when they lost out on the ultimate prize by only three points and a few ticks of the clock.
The stars are back, and they have their mind on taking what they believe should have been theirs last year. This team is focused, the fans will be rocking the house and the national spotlight will be shining brightly on these Oregon Ducks.
However, this team is unlike many before it. They are unfazed by the lofty expectations and the spotlight that has been cast on them, and they deserve to be the most feared team in the land when they take the field this fall.