Oregon Ducks College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Oregon Ducks Biggest Key: Offense
Keep the chains moving. Step One, actually, is to stop with the freaking fumbles.
There were ten lost fumbles in seven games last year – they absolutely killed the Ducks in the loss to Iowa State – after losing just five in the 14-game 2019 season.
Step Two – march.
Time of possession doesn’t mean anything to this program, and it shouldn’t. Blink, and you could get 21 hung on you and it’s over. But that works as long as the offense is converting on the third down chances.
2020 Oregon was actually better at that than the 2019 version was, but the timing wasn’t always so great. The O converted try after try in the first two wins over Stanford and Washington State, but it was a struggle in the loss to Cal and the 40% conversion rate in the loss to Oregon State is a tad misleading.
The real problem was the Fiesta Bowl – 0-for-6 against Iowa State.
By the way, for a totally unfair comp, the 2014 team that played for the national title converted on almost 50% of its third down chances but was stuffed in two games – the loss to Arizona and the CFP defeat to Ohio State.
Oregon Ducks Biggest Key: Defense
Take the ball away. There needs to be a steadier pass rush, better production on third downs would be wonderful, and the run defense has to get a whole lot nastier after getting ripped up by Iowa State, UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford. Those things are fixable with an experienced, deep, and talented D like Oregon has.
Again, take the ball away.
The 2020 Ducks came up with seven takeaways in the seven games. That’s a little light to average one a game, but it’s not totally awful – except it was.
Four of those takeaways came in the too-tight 38-35 win over UCLA, and three more came in the Pac-12 Championship win over USC. That, of course, means you came up with as many takeaways in the other five games as the 2020 Oregon D did.
The 2019 defense was great at taking it away in bunches, too, but the program has failed to generate a turnover in eight of its last 15 games.
Ever since the failure to close the 2019 opener against Auburn, Oregon is 9-0 when forcing two more more takeaways.
Oregon Ducks Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Anthony Brown, Sr.
Can he be accurate enough, and can he be the guy who can take Oregon that one extra step in the rising Mario Cristobal era?
Justin Herbert couldn’t do it. He might be the best young quarterback in the NFL, and he won a Pac-12 title, but he couldn’t get the uber-talented 2019 Duck team to the College Football Playoff.
Tyler Shough couldn’t do it. It’s still a tad early in the process, but the new Texas Tech Red Raider might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He led the Ducks to a Pac-12 title, but he couldn’t get the uber-talented 2020 Duck team to the College Football Playoff.
Brown was good at Boston College. He threw for over 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns with 20 picks, and he ran for 463 yards, but he only hit 55% of his passes. Now in his sixth season in the college world, the 6-2, 226-pounder has the job of taking the uber-talented 2021 Duck team to the College Football Playoff.
Oregon Ducks Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Ohio State, Sept. 11
Win this, and it’s Game On.
There’s going to be a Pac-12 loss somewhere. The Ducks have to go to Washington, the trip to Stanford is more dangerous than it seems, and it would be so Oregon to drop the late November trip to Utah – it lost in Salt Lake City in 2018.
Of course winning another Pac-12 Championship would be amazing, but the College Football Playoff is almost certainly out of the picture with two losses. Beat Ohio State in Columbus – it would be the first regular season loss in the Ryan Day era – and all of a sudden the expectations and possibilities for the 2021 season go to a whole other level.
2020 Oregon Ducks Fun Stats
– Fumbles: Oregon 13 (lost 10) – Opponents 5 (lost 2)
– Time of Possession: Opponents 33:49 – Oregon 26:11
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 15-of-23 (65%) – Oregon 3-of-6 (50%)