2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 12 Oregon Ducks
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Oregon Ducks
No. 12: Oregon Ducks
Oregon Ducks Prespring Status
The offense worked. It really, really worked, finishing 15th in the nation averaging 492 yards per game.
The defense stunk. It really, really stunk, finishing as the third-worst in both yards and points allowed per game, giving up over 41 points and 518 yards an outing on the way to a shocking 4-8 season.
Just a few years removed from playing for the national title, head coach Mark Helfrich was launched, Willie Taggart was hired on, and now it looks like this could quickly get back to being the team that turned into a national powerhouse and one of the Pac-12’s biggest stars.
Eight starters are back on the devastating offense – helped by the return of RB Royce Freeman, and the emergence of QB Justin Herbert – and ten starters return to that miserable D. This isn’t going to be a devastating defense, but it’s not going to be any worse. There’s depth to go along with all the experience.
Oregon Ducks Biggest Issue
Tight end. Of course, actually coming up with a meaningful defensive stop is the biggest key, but there’s plenty for the new coaching staff to work with, getting back 12 of the top 13 tacklers. Offensively, it might not seem like much, but losing tight ends Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt matters. Each one missed significant time, but they were two of the team’s top receivers, combining to catch 56 passes for 762 yards and nine scores. They were more than just good safety valve targets,
Oregon Ducks Biggest Positive
The offensive backfield. Taggart put together one of the nation’s most dangerous running games last season at USF, and now he has even more talented pieces in place. Freeman probably would’ve been a top 50 pick had he chosen to leave early, and now he and Tony Brooks-James should run wild behind a strong offensive front that gets back four starters.
Herbert might not be the runner USF QB Quinton Flowers is, but he was outstanding in his true freshman season, throwing 19 touchdown passes and just four picks. In a loaded year for Pac-12 quarterbacks, he’s going to standout.
Really, Why Are The Oregon Ducks Ranked Here?
This will be the real Oregon team again. The Ducks couldn’t find the answer on defense last season in awful performance after awful performance, but Jim Leavitt is a whale of a defensive coach and should shine as the new coordinator. Meanwhile, co-offensive coordinators Marcus Arroyo and Mario Cristobal will keep the offense rolling. 2016 was an aberration, and now get ready for Oregon being Oregon again.