Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Oregon Ducks season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Oregon Ducks
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Oregon Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Oregon needed to make a little bit of a tweak, and the current coaching staff might be it.
Past Duck teams bristled anytime anyone would bring up words like finesse, or scheme, or gimmick, but that was all sort of baked into the cake.
Oregon dominated because it found a glitch in the system and exploited it for lots of points, lots of wins, and lots of success – and there was nothing wrong with that.
However, mainly because the offenses were so breathtaking, the defenses often never received the credit they deserved, doing an amazing job through the end of the Chip Kelly era on through the College Football Playoff National Championship loss to Ohio State at the end of the 2014 season.
That might change this year.
Now comes the pivot that might just make Oregon a powerhouse again, combining the principles that made the program so successful under Kelly and Mark Helfrich, and blending them with the tough-guy coaches now at the helm.
Start with Mario Cristobal, a player’s coach who appeared destined to be the Miami head man after doing a strong job for a while at FIU, until one 3-9 season in 2012 changed that.
But the new Duck head coach is a master offensive line teacher – doing great things at Rutgers, Miami and Alabama – who took over as the Oregon offensive coordinator job last season.
Cristobal has a veteran line with the talent and toughness to bash away from time to time. The offense will still go at warp speed when possible, but with this line, there will be more plays under center, most Pistol looks, and the ability to grind.
Combine Cristobal with defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt – one of the best in the game – and Oregon’s D might just be the best in the Pac-12. It’ll be one of the most aggressive and one of the toughest against the run – Oregon will win a few games just because the defense will be better.
You can’t play for Cristobal or Leavitt and not have an alpha dog mentality.
On the other side, getting back QB Justin Herbert before he’s some NFL franchise star just takes the expectations up that much more.
The receiving corps is there to add a lot more to the passing attack, the running backs are more than good enough, and again, the line will be a plus.
The defense under Leavitt will live in the backfield, and it has a few all-stars returning in the secondary to hold down the higher-octane passing attacks when needed.
With Washington and Stanford having to come to Eugene, no real non-conference games to speak of, and no USC to face from the South, this is the year to rise back up.
This is the season Oregon has a chance to be in the College Football Playoff chase again. And the team won’t need all the uniform changes to start to look just a little bit different.