Confused? Check out the glossary here.
1. And now we roll the dice
With Chip Kelly as head coach, I would have absolutely, positively put this team at No. 2 in the country heading into the season. And with enough time and overthinking, I could have probably talked myself into considering No. 1. With each progressing year, Kelly's squad got deeper, faster, and simply better, and this might be the deepest, fastest, and best yet.
The Ducks' F/+ progression chart below looks like Hulk Hogan flexing. They return an emerging stud at quarterback, a player almost as perfect for his system as (former Oregon commit) Johnny Manziel is for Texas A&M's or A.J. McCarron is for Alabama's. They return De'Anthony Thomas, who redefines the term "all-purpose." They return their top six receiving targets and five offensive linemen with starting experience (including an all-conference center).
They return seven defensive linemen who logged at least 10 tackles last year. They return basically everybody in what might be the best secondary in the country. They bring in a few more four- and five-star athletes. They avoided serious NCAA sanctions*. With a schedule that features only two teams projected better than 30th in the Football Outsiders Almanac 2013, the landmines appear minimal. This looks like Chip Kelly's perfect team and perfect opportunity.
But Chip Kelly is in Philadelphia now.
No matter how well you plan, no matter what kind of succession plan you have in place, and no matter how seamless that plan seems on paper (and this one appears awfully seamless), you never, ever know what's going to happen when your transcendently successful coach hands the reins to somebody else. You could get Jim Harbaugh handing to David Shaw. You could get Tom Osborne handing to Frank Solich. You could get Rich Brooks handing to Joker Phillips. Coaching changes are a complete roll of the dice. By all accounts, new head coach (and former Kelly offensive coordinator) Mark Helfrich seems like he could be the Shaw to Kelly's Harbaugh, a person who understands the culture that made his school successful and can further it in almost seamless fashion. But you just never know for sure until he proves it.
Oregon still might be the second-best team in college football heading into the season. All of the evidence above, sans Kelly, still rings true. But there will be at least a little bit of uncertainty until the Ducks go out and prove themselves. (And with this schedule, they'll have to wait a while to do so.)
* Yes, I realize that if Kelly were still in charge and had still been given a show-cause penalty that might have prompted his firing, then that probably would have constituted "serious sanctions."
2012 Schedule & Results
|Record: 12-1 | Adj. Record: 13-0 | Final F/+ Rk: 2|
|Date||Opponent||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L|
|1-Sep||Arkansas State||57-34||W||40.1 - 31.6||W|
|8-Sep||Fresno State||42-25||W||45.0 - 16.5||W|
|15-Sep||Tennessee Tech||63-14||W||37.9 - 14.0||W|
|22-Sep||Arizona||49-0||W||28.0 - 12.9||W|
|29-Sep||at Washington State||51-26||W||32.3 - 27.7||W|
|6-Oct||Washington||52-21||W||44.0 - 31.2||W|
|18-Oct||at Arizona State||43-21||W||35.9 - 20.7||W|
|27-Oct||Colorado||70-14||W||36.3 - 22.0||W|
|3-Nov||at USC||62-51||W||58.5 - 35.9||W|
|10-Nov||at California||59-17||W||39.2 - 30.5||W|
|17-Nov||Stanford||14-17||L||33.2 - 27.4||W|
|24-Nov||at Oregon State||48-24||W||43.5 - 26.9||W|
|3-Jan||vs. Kansas State||35-17||W||29.5 - 15.8||W|
|Points Per Game||49.6||2||21.6||25|
|Adj. Points Per Game||38.7||6||24.1||28|
2. Just enough of a defensive fade
Oregon is the perfect example of the you-don't-get-to-pick-your-shots phenomenon. In college football, where (almost) every game matters, and where you need all sorts of breaks to reach the national title game, the 2011 and 2012 Oregon football squads were better on paper than the one that reached it in 2010. But a missed field goal in 2011 potentially ruined a return opportunity, and a missed field goal in 2012 definitely ruined a return opportunity.
Alejandro Maldonado's missed overtime field goal versus Stanford was the play most directly responsible for Oregon's lone loss, but a late-season defensive fade also hurt the Ducks' chances. Yes, they only allowed 17 points to Stanford, but the Cardinal scored touchdowns on drives of 93 yards (15 plays, seven minutes) and 78 yards (11 plays, five minutes), drives the early-season Ducks defense may not have allowed.
Adj. Points Per Game (first 8 games): Oregon 37.4, Opponent 22.1 (plus-15.3)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Oregon 43.6, Opponent 30.2 (plus-13.4)
Throw in some ill-timed failures by the offense (turnovers on downs at the Stanford 7 and 38 in the first half, along with another missed field goal by Maldonado in the third quarter), and Oregon did just enough to lose. In all, the offense was simply gorgeous down the stretch, even as the defense slipped a bit, but one single loss defined the season as a whole.
|Q1 Rk||1||1st Down Rk||5|
|Q2 Rk||18||2nd Down Rk||6|
|Q3 Rk||40||3rd Down Rk||25|
Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Marcus Mariota||6'4, 211||So.||*** (5.7)||230||336||2,677||68.5%||32||6||15||4.3%||7.3|
|Jake Rodrigues||6'3, 218||RSFr.||**** (5.8)|
3. A nearly perfect debut
Sure, Marcus Mariota had his shaky moments. Against the fantastic Stanford defense, for instance, he completed just 57 percent of his passes at 4.9 yards per attempt (including sacks). Against an excellent Kansas State defense, he completed 50 percent of his passes at 6.5 yards per attempt. So, okay, he wasn't necessarily capable of dominating elite Ds. You'll have to forgive him for that, because he was otherwise about as good as a redshirt freshman quarterback could be.
Maybe that's an odd thing to say in a year that saw one win the Heisman for the first time, but Mariota's numbers were quite comparable to Johnny Manziel's.
- Completion Rate: Mariota 68.5 percent, Manziel 68.0.
- Yards Per Pass Attempt: Manziel 7.8, Mariota 7.3
- TD-to-INT Ratio: Mariota 5.3, Manziel 2.9
- Rushing Yards Per Carry (non-sacks): Mariota 9.4, Manziel 8.1
- Highlight Yards Per Opportunity: Mariota 8.9, Manziel 8.2
That Manziel produced his numbers in the SEC gave him an edge, obviously. So did the fact that he's a little more flashy overall than the rather unassuming Mariota. After opponent adjustments, Texas A&M's offense did rank first in the country in Off. F/+, and Oregon ranked a mere fifth. But the fact that two of the country's five best offenses were run by freshmen is staggering. Manziel got all of the offseason attention, for better and for worse, but Mariota is obviously going to be well-positioned to post ridiculous numbers again this fall.
|De'Anthony Thomas||???||5'9, 176||Jr.||***** (6.1)||92||693||7.5||8.4||11||+23.1|
|Marcus Mariota||QB||6'4, 211||So.||*** (5.7)||91||858||9.4||8.9||5||+36.2|
|Byron Marshall||RB||5'10, 201||So.||**** (5.8)||87||447||5.1||5.2||4||-0.2|
|Ayele Forde||RB||5'7, 183||Jr.||NR||27||139||5.1||4.5||0||+0.3|
|Kenny Bassett||RB||5'9, 178||Jr.||NR||16||40||2.5||0.9||0||-4.6|
|Colt Lyerla||TE||6'5, 246||Jr.||***** (6.1)||13||77||5.9||4.1||1||+1.7|
|Thomas Tyner||RB||6'0, 200||Fr.||***** (6.1)|
4. Celebrating EATBLACKMOMBA6, whatever he is
De'Anthony Thomas has perhaps the most likable Twitter presence of any athlete, college or pro. Here are some Tweets from just the last week:
GREAT FEELING TO SIT ON MY PORCH AND RELAX WIT MY BABY DAISY 🌹❤ http://t.co/Jq9YW2DYoL— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 11, 2013
IT'S FRIDAY— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 12, 2013
LOL CAPS COPS BE ON ME BUT I HAVE A GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD#MONOPOLY— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 12, 2013
WHEN I START MY NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION YALL BETTER COME SUPPORT BRING YOUR KIDS AGES FROM 5-14#DATSAVINGLIVES— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 12, 2013
IS BURGERVILLE OPEN— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 13, 2013
WHO GOING TO THE TIM MCGRAW CONCERT TONIGHT I DONT EVEN KNOW WHO THAT IS?— DE'ANTHONY THOMAS (@EATBLACKMOMBA6) July 16, 2013
Thomas is as enthusiastic off the field as on. He is fun and rather well-intentioned off the field, and he's twice as fun, with bad intentions, on it. In the absence of workhorse back Kenjon Barner (21.5 carries per game), Thomas will be asked to pick up the slack at least a bit, but how much? And what the hell is his position, anyway?
In a recent Grantland piece, Mark Helfrich gave Holly Anderson a quote that is pretty much perfect:
The spotlight will find these two players most frequently in the season ahead, particularly with the departure of Kenjon Barner, FBS's fourth-leading rusher, to the Carolina Panthers. Will we see Thomas, who hasn't been used as a workhorse back, in a more traditional tailback setting in 2013? "We'll see," said Helfrich. "I've said a bunch of times that you never wanna know the limit on carries your tailback can have, because that means they're hurt."
Thomas is 5'9, 176 pounds. He got about 11.3 intended touches (carries plus targets) per game and returned 29 kickoffs and punts (with brutal effectiveness -- he was a one-man field-position advantage). He doesn't take many hard hits and could almost certainly shoulder more of a load this fall. But it's hard to say how much.
Of course, this offense will in no way need to be a one-man show. Thomas is almost as terrifying as a decoy, and he will be complemented by a wealth of intriguing athletes, from four-star sophomore running back Byron Marshall, to five-star tight end-slash-fullback-slash-receiver Colt Lyerla, to senior deep threat Josh Huff, to slot receivers Bralon Addison and Daryle Hawkins, to any number of young four- or five-star options like running back Thomas Tyner, receivers Dwayne Stanford, Devon Allen, and Darren Carrington, and tight ends Pharoah Brown and Evan Baylis. Oregon has not turned into a recruiting factory at every position yet, but the skill positions are ridiculously well-stocked for what Helfrich plans to do (which is more or less what Kelly planned to do).
De'Anthony Thomas. Jonathan Ferrey, Getty.
|De'Anthony Thomas||???||5'9, 176||Jr.||***** (6.1)||55||45||446||81.8%||8.1||15.4%||65.5%||8.1||61.9|
|Josh Huff||WR||5'11, 205||Sr.||**** (5.8)||49||32||493||65.3%||10.1||13.8%||69.4%||9.7||68.4|
|Bralon Addison||SLOT||5'10, 189||So.||**** (5.8)||36||22||243||61.1%||6.8||10.1%||55.6%||6.5||33.7|
|Colt Lyerla||TE||6'5, 246||Jr.||***** (6.1)||35||25||392||71.4%||11.2||9.8%||74.3%||12.1||54.4|
|Daryle Hawkins||SLOT||6'4, 202||Sr.||** (5.2)||35||25||202||71.4%||5.8||9.8%||77.1%||5.6||28.0|
|Keanon Lowe||WR||5'9, 181||Jr.||**** (5.8)||30||22||244||73.3%||8.1||8.4%||80.0%||7.3||33.8|
|Dwayne Stanford||WR||6'5, 195||So.||**** (5.8)||19||11||106||57.9%||5.6||5.3%||63.2%||5.7||14.7|
|Eric Dungy||WR||6'1, 183||Jr.||** (5.4)||11||5||41||45.5%||3.7||3.1%||45.5%||3.7||5.7|
|B.J. Kelley||WR||6'2, 181||So.||*** (5.6)||7||6||103||85.7%||14.7||2.0%||85.7%||15.7||14.3|
|Blake Stanton||WR||5'11, 211||Jr.||*** (5.6)||5||4||19||80.0%||3.8||1.4%||60.0%||3.7||2.6|
|Pharaoh Brown||TE||6'6, 234||So.||**** (5.8)||4||2||42||50.0%||10.5||1.1%||0.0%||5.5||5.8|
|Koa Ka'ai||TE||6'4, 251||So.||*** (5.6)||4||2||18||50.0%||4.5||1.1%||100.0%||2.7||2.5|
|Evan Baylis||TE||6'6, 244||RSFr.||**** (5.8)|
|Devon Allen||WR||6'1, 190||Fr.||**** (5.8)|
|Darren Carrington||WR||6'2, 187||Fr.||**** (5.8)|
|Hroniss Grasu||C||6'3, 294||Jr.||*** (5.7)||27 career starts; 2012 1st All-Pac-12|
|Nick Cody||RG||20 career starts|
|Tyler Johnstone||LT||6'6, 292||So.||**** (5.8)||13 career starts|
|Ryan Clanton||RG||13 career starts|
|Jake Fisher||RT||6'6, 294||Jr.||*** (5.7)||11 career starts|
|Kyle Long||LG||5 career starts|
|Everett Benyard III||RG||6'7, 305||Sr.||*** (5.6)||2 career starts|
|Mana Greig||LG||5'11, 291||Sr.||NR||2 career starts|
|Hamani Stevens||RG||6'3, 298||Jr.||**** (5.9)|
|Karrington Armstrong||C||6'3, 290||Sr.||*** (5.6)|
|James Euscher||LT||6'7, 291||So.||*** (5.5)|
|Andre Yruretagoyena||LG||6'5, 288||So.||**** (5.8)|
|Cameron Hunt||OL||6'4, 267||Fr.||**** (5.8)|
|Evan Voeller||OL||6'4, 285||Fr.||**** (5.8)|
5. A thinned-out (but not THAT thinned-out) line
Oregon returns its best lineman (Hroniss Grasu) and both of last year's starting tackles from a line that entered 2012 quite inexperienced (two linemen with starting experience following Carson York's injury-induced retirement) and finished it as one of the best lines in the country. OL coach Steve Greatwood is still on the job in Eugene, so Oregon's line is probably going to be just fine. Still, the interior did get softened up a bit by graduation, and the depth here could be questionable unless at least one four-star freshman is ready to contribute.
|Q1 Rk||26||1st Down Rk||37|
|Q2 Rk||17||2nd Down Rk||32|
|Q3 Rk||24||3rd Down Rk||17|
6. The perfect complement
Perhaps the best possible news for Oregon fans following Kelly's departure wasn't that Helfrich was taking over; it was that Nick Aliotti was staying aboard to coach the defense. Aliotti crafted a defense that was a nearly perfect complement for what Chip Kelly wanted to do on the offensive side of the ball.
To compensate for the fact that Oregon's offense is going to run a lot of plays (and its opponent, therefore, probably will too), Oregon's defense played a ton of players -- nine linemen, seven linebackers, and eight defensive back recorded at least 10.0 tackles. And in terms of style, Oregon basically had the defensive equivalent to its offense: aggressive and absurdly athletic. Even without first-round draft pick Dion Jordan, Oregon still returns six former four-star recruits on the line and boasts size, depth, and impressive length (the top three returnees average 6'7, 279).
There are question marks at linebacker, but Oregon's depth up front is bolstered by its amazing depth in the back. Oregon returns its top nine defensive backs from last year; these nine combined for 268.0 tackles, 18 interceptions, 43 passes broken up, eight tackles for loss, a sack, seven forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries.
Oregon was uncanny in its ability to tighten the screws following a score. When Duck opponents began to feel pressure to keep up in the scoring department, it seemed that corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in particular would, within seconds, force a turnover. Oregon was so good at following a score with a big defensive play, and it turned tight games into blowouts very quickly.
And if we're taking the time to celebrate De'Anthony Thomas, we should certainly do the same for his defensive equivalent. Ekpre-Olomu isn't quite as fast as Thomas (no one is), and he certainly isn't as outgoing on Twitter, but he might be the best, most exciting cornerback in the country in 2013. That a trio of quality safeties has his back makes him even more aggressive and effective; and in Terrance Mitchell, Troy Hill, and Dior Mathis, Oregon has three solid corners to line up opposite Ekpre-Olomu.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Taylor Hart||DE||6'6, 292||Sr.||*** (5.7)||13||30.0||3.8%||11||8||0||3||1||1|
|DeForest Buckner||DE||6'7, 265||So.||**** (5.8)||13||22.0||2.8%||2.5||1||0||0||0||0|
|Arik Amstead||DT||6'8, 280||So.||**** (6.0)||13||18.5||2.3%||2||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Tony Washington||DE||6'3, 244||Jr.||*** (5.6)||13||16.0||2.0%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Wade Keliikipi||NT||6'3, 295||Sr.||** (5.4)||10||15.0||1.9%||4||2||0||1||0||0|
|Ricky Havili-Heimuli||DT||6'4, 305||Sr.||**** (5.9)||12||12.0||1.5%||1.5||1||0||0||0||0|
|Christian French||DE||6'5, 242||So.||**** (5.8)||9||10.5||1.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|David Kafovalu||DE||6'3, 240||Jr.||*** (5.5)||6||5.5||0.7%||1.5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Hagen||DT||6'3, 285||Sr.||NR||6||3.0||0.4%||0.5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Sam Kamp||DE||6'4, 251||So.||*** (5.6)||8||2.5||0.3%||0.5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Alex Balducci||NT||6'4, 290||So.||**** (5.9)|
|Torrodney Prevot||DE||6'3, 201||Fr.||**** (5.8)|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Boseko Lokombo||SLB||6'3, 233||Sr.||*** (5.7)||13||32.5||4.1%||1.5||2||2||4||1||0|
|Derrick Malone||WLB||6'2, 219||Jr.||*** (5.7)||12||31.5||4.0%||1||0||1||0||0||0|
|Tyson Coleman||MLB||6'1, 222||So.||*** (5.7)||13||26.0||3.3%||3.5||1.5||0||2||0||0|
|Rahim Cassell||WLB||6'0, 215||So.||*** (5.6)||13||13.5||1.7%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Rodney Hardrick||LB||6'1, 230||Jr.||*** (5.6)||9||10.0||1.3%||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Isaac Ava||LB||5'11, 240||Jr.||NR||12||3.5||0.4%||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Grant Thompson||LB||5'11, 220||Jr.||NR||5||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Joe Walker||MLB||6'2, 225||So.||** (5.4)|
|Brett Bafaro||LB||6'2, 225||RSFr.||**** (5.8)|
7. Wanted: New playmakers up front
In last week's Stanford preview, I dropped a casual "best defense in the West" reference in the intro. It certainly bears mentioning, however, that Oregon's defense ranked higher last year in Def. F/+. The Ducks are going to give up more yards and points than Stanford because of the nature of the teams' respective offenses, but Oregon's D was one of the most effective in the country, and with Aliotti and all of this line and secondary talent, it could be again. But the Ducks' chance to either improve or at least avoid slippage on defense could depend on their ability to replace the playmaking talent of Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso.
Oregon has not recruited quite as well at linebacker as it has at other positions, and the duo's combined 24 tackles for loss and eight passes defensed were quite impressive and useful. Boseko Lokombo is strong in pass coverage, and sophomore Tyson Coleman showed some play-making ability in minimal opportunities. But Clay and Alonso were just about as integral to Oregon's rise to fourth in Def. F/+ as Ekpre-Olomu, Dion Jordan, or anybody else.
In fact, if you look at Oregon's line stats, you see a team that must have been near perfect in the back seven to land in the Def. F/+ top five. Regression at linebacker could mean regression for the defense as a whole.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ifo Ekpre-Olomu||CB||5'10, 190||Jr.||**** (5.8)||13||53.5||6.8%||0||0||4||16||6||1|
|Brian Jackson||S||5'10, 205||Sr.||*** (5.5)||13||52.5||6.6%||1||1||2||7||0||2|
|Erick Dargan||S||5'11, 205||Jr.||**** (5.8)||13||43.5||5.5%||3||0||5||2||0||2|
|Avery Patterson||S||5'10, 185||Sr.||*** (5.7)||10||33.0||4.2%||1.5||0||3||3||0||1|
|Terrance Mitchell||CB||6'0, 189||Jr.||*** (5.7)||13||31.0||3.9%||0||0||0||8||0||0|
|Troy Hill||CB||5'11, 180||Jr.||*** (5.7)||10||24.0||3.0%||1||0||1||4||0||0|
|Dior Mathis||CB||5'9, 182||Jr.||**** (5.8)||10||13.0||1.6%||1.5||0||2||3||0||0|
|Issac Dixon||DB||5'11, 195||So.||*** (5.6)||7||10.5||1.3%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Ben Butterfield||S||6'0, 197||Sr.||NR||12||7.0||0.9%||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Tyrell Robinson||DB||6'4, 185||Fr.||**** (5.9)|
|Tyree Robinson||DB||6'4, 180||Fr.||**** (5.9)|
|Alejandro Maldonado||5'10, 185||Sr.||98||59.4||13||13.3%|
|Alejandro Maldonado||5'10, 185||Sr.||18-19||3-4||75.0%||0-2||0.0%|
|De'Anthony Thomas||KR||5'9, 176||Jr.||16||24.3||1|
|Keanon Lowe||KR||5'9, 181||Jr.||11||22.7||0|
|De'Anthony Thomas||PR||5'9, 176||Jr.||13||17.1||1|
|Bralon Addison||PR||5'10, 189||So.||4||4.8||0|
|Special Teams F/+||18|
|Field Goal Pct||121|
|Kick Returns Avg||99|
|Punt Returns Avg||13|
8. Find a kicker
Poor Alejandro Maldonado. He really isn't asked to do that much; Chip Kelly went for it a lot on fourth downs, and there's no immediate reason to think Helfrich will be any different. Oregon kickers attempted just 14 field goals last season, and for his part, Maldonado was 21-for-23 on PATs and kicks of under 40 yards.
But he missed kicks of 41 and 42 yards against Stanford, and he missed a 37-yarder that would have sent the 2011 USC game to overtime. In two of Oregon's three losses in the last two years, Maldonado's missed kicks made a huge difference.
Oregon's schedule is pretty easy, but at some point you have to figure the Ducks are going to need someone to make a kick. Can Maldonado be trusted to do so? Is there somebody else on the roster more trust-worthy? Oregon's special teams unit was good because of Thomas' super-human punt returns and some decent (and rare) punting, but you have to have a place-kicker. Oregon might not.
2013 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||5|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||17|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||+21 / +9.5|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||15 (8, 7)|
9. What changes?
The key components, both in the coaching staff and on the roster, return in 2013. The faces are familiar. The pace will remain ludicrous. Things feel just about the same in Eugene. Can Mark Helfrich keep Oregon on this same, steep upward trajectory? That's really the only question for which the Ducks don't already have an answer. We certainly can't say he won't -- we just don't know that he will yet.
10. Pac-12 balance of power
With every Pac-12 preview in the books, let's take a look at how I see the Pac-12's different tiers taking shape. (As always, this isn't based on predicted finish so much as pure quality on July 16.)
I love the Stanford defense, Oregon's got a new coach, and if nothing else, the Ducks-Cardinal game is in Palo Alto. If I have to choose between these two teams, that's the only way I can separate them. But really, this is about as close to 1A and 1B as imaginable.
4. Arizona State
7. Oregon State
USC could obviously bump into Tier 1 if the new pieces work out; meanwhile, I could be underselling the rebuilding job Rich Rodriguez has in his second year at Arizona. But teams No. 4 to 7 are almost as indistinguishable as Stanford and Oregon. There are so many good to very good teams in this league this year. Can't wait.
11. Washington State
Of these three, I feel the most confident in Cal's ability to make the leap into Tier 2. I like the receiving corps Sonny Dykes inherits, and I think the defense could be decent. But they still have more to prove than anybody in Tier 2.
I really, really like Mike MacIntyre. But he's going to need a year.