Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Life comes at you quickly
This time a year ago, Oregon was the defending Pac-12 champion and national runner-up. The Ducks had won at least nine games for each of the last eight seasons and would start 2015 as the AP's No. 7 team, tops in the Pac-12.
The Ducks' 2015 featured all-bets-are-off quarterback injury issues, but they won nine games and finished ninth in Off. S&P+, their fifth consecutive year in the top 10 and seventh in nine seasons. They ceded the Pac-12 title to Stanford because of an early loss of form but won at Stanford, crushed USC, and finished the regular season winning six games in a row. They were probably the best team in the conference in November.
For an injury-addled rebuilding season, this is quite acceptable. Oregon didn't look like Oregon in September, kind of did in October, and very much did in November. The Ducks blew a huge Alamo Bowl lead when their quarterback again went down with injury, but bowl results don't mean much.
So why is Oregon a complete and total Pac-12 afterthought? We're all picking either Stanford or Washington to win the conference, it seems. Just 18 months after the Ducks made the National Championship -- a game they trailed by one point until the last play of the third quarter -- they have been relegated to getting courtesy spots deep in top 25s, if that. Athlon has the Ducks 24th, Lindy's 24th. Phil Steele has them unranked.
Have we all lost our damn minds? What gives here? A few things:
1. Oregon's defense completely fell apart. Oregon's never had a truly elite defense during this nine-year run of nine-win seasons, but on six occasions the Ducks ranked between 15th and 33rd in Def. S&P+. That's good enough when you've got a great offense.
In 2015, Oregon ranked 82nd. Just enough 2014 pieces left -- linemen Arik Armstead and Sam Kamp, linebackers Derrick Malone Jr. and Tony Washington, defensive backs Erick Dargan, Troy Hill, and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu -- to affect the balance of the bend-don't-break scheme defensive coordinator Don Pellum seemed to prefer. And then injuries wreaked havoc on the linebacking corps and secondary.
A bend-don't-break defense can be just fine if you're limiting big plays and making stops in the redzone. Oregon did neither well enough. So Helfrich made a change, bumping Pellum back to linebackers coach and ace recruiter and bringing aboard former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.
2. Another year, another quarterback change. When Vernon Adams was healthy, all was right with the offense. He wasn't quite as effective as Marcus Mariota, but that's a really high bar. Despite Adams missing three games and parts of others, Oregon still ranked ninth in Off. S&P+.
But when he was off the field, things tended to fall apart. Adams averaged 8.7 yards per pass attempt; backup Jeff Lockie averaged 4.7. In 85 rushes and sacks, Adams fumbled four times; Lockie fumbled three times in 34.
Adams was a graduate transfer, a one-year patch. Though Lockie and last year's third-stringer Taylor Alie are back, it appears the QB race is between another graduate transfer (Montana State's Dakota Prukop) and a redshirt freshman (Travis Jonsen, who missed last year with a turf toe injury). Despite exciting pedigrees -- Prukop threw for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 800 last year, and Jonsen was a blue-chipper in the 2015 recruiting class -- both are relative unknowns. Technically, so is new coordinator Matt Lubick, who took over when Scott Frost became UCF's head coach.
3. We are fickle creatures. We just are. What have you done for me lately?
Oregon is projected 18th in S&P+ -- higher than most of these human-based rankings, but not exactly top-10 -- so it's not like this is simply humans being fickle. Still, it doesn't take too many ifs to make the Ducks a Pac-12 contender again.
And knowing how players seek fuel via disrespect, head coach Mark Helfrich probably doesn't mind that we're not talking about his team very much.
This is Bill C's daily preview series, working its way through every 2016 team. Catch up on the Pac-12 so far!
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 9-4 | Adj. Record: 11-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 23 | Final S&P+ Rk: 25|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|12-Sep||at Michigan State||9||28-31||L||46%||19%||-3.7||+1.0|
|29-Oct||at Arizona State||50||61-55||W||55%||48%||+7.5||+8.5|
|Points Per Game||43.0||5||37.5||116|
2. Rounding into form
Whatever goals Oregon had, they were out the window by midseason.
Any hopes of a national title were dashed either when the Ducks' comeback at Michigan State fell just short or when Utah pantsed them in Eugene two weeks later.
With Adams injured against the Utes, Oregon put together its most fragile performance in probably a decade. They committed three turnovers, gave up five sacks, allowed a trick-play punt return score, and got outscored 49-7 in the middle two quarters. It was a rare sign of mortality, and it was probably the moment a lot of us wrote them off through 2016.
Any hopes of a Pac-12 title went out the window when the Ducks blew a couple of early scoring chances against Washington State and fell in overtime. But by that point, the improvement was already underway.
- First 4 games:
Record: 2-2 | Average percentile performance: 56% (~top 55) | Yards per play: UO 6.6, Opp 6.2 (+0.4)
- Next 4 games:
Record: 3-1 | Average percentile performance: 71% (~top 35) | Yards per play: UO 6.7, Opp 5.9 (+0.8)
- Next 4 games:
Record: 4-0 | Average percentile performance: 85% (~top 20) | Yards per play: UO 8.4, Opp 6.1 (+2.3)
After the Wazzu game, Oregon began to look like Oregon again. In their final six regular-season games, they beat the Pac-12 North champion on the road, the Pac-12 South champion at home by 20 points, and this year's preseason darling, Washington, on the road. After underachieving their S&P+ projection by 15.5 points per game in the first half of the year (minus-7.1 sans the Utah game), they overachieved by 11.7 points per game in the second half. They were Oregon again.
And then Adams got hurt, they blew a 31-0 halftime lead, and we wrote them off again.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||48.9%||8||Succ. Rt. +||118.4||12|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.0||95||Def. FP+||29.9||73|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.8||33||Redzone S&P+||120.1||9|
|Q1 Rk||9||1st Down Rk||8|
|Q2 Rk||3||2nd Down Rk||5|
|Q3 Rk||27||3rd Down Rk||27|
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Jeff Lockie||6'2, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8447||61||99||580||5||4||61.6%||11||10.0%||4.7|
|Taylor Alie||6'0, 185||Jr.||NR||NR||6||14||96||1||0||42.9%||1||6.7%||6.2|
|Travis Jonsen||6'3, 194||RSFr.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9483|
|Justin Herbert||6'6, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8584|
|Terry Wilson||6'3, 195||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8839|
3. All about the QB
With the skill talent around him, I assume that if Lockie had held the starting QB job all year, he would have at some point generated large numbers. He is not without skill, and he had the misfortune of having to fill in for an injured Adams. Trying to rally the troops after the starter went down is not the easiest thing in the world.
Against Utah and TCU, when Adams started but had to come out, Lockie was 17-for-35 for 175 yards, one touchdown and two picks (passer rating: 88.6); in the three games in which Adams didn't play at all, Lockie was 46-for-73 for 405 yards, four touchdowns, and one pick (125.0). Granted, that was against Georgia State, Colorado, and Wazzu. Still, that's a pretty stark difference.
It's also still not very good. And it appears that in this year's battle for the starting job, Lockie was relegated from potential starter to "half mentor and half wideout." The actual battle for the starting job was between Prukop, Jonsen, and true freshman Terry Wilson.
Whoever wins just has to be competent for the Oregon offense to operate at a high level. Helfrich is still in charge, and Lubick has a solid pedigree -- three years as Oregon's receivers coach and passing game coordinator, three years under David Cutcliffe as Duke's receivers coach, five years under Dennis Erickson as defensive backs coach at Oregon State and Arizona State. And the starter will still throw to an absurdly deep set of exciting athletes.
That at least three quarterbacks have already surpassed last year's second-stringer tells us that the floor for the Oregon QB is higher than it was in 2015. Now we just have to find out about the ceiling.
|Royce Freeman||RB||5'11, 230||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9817||284||1836||17||6.5||6.2||44.4%||2||0|
|Taj Griffin||RB||5'10, 175||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9742||77||570||3||7.4||12.3||37.7%||0||0|
|Kani Benoit||RB||6'0, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8274||52||364||3||7.0||7.1||46.2%||1||1|
|Tony Brooks-James||RB||5'9, 185||So.||4 stars (5.9)||0.8960||32||288||3||9.0||7.3||59.4%||0||0|
|Jeff Lockie||QB||6'2, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8447||23||156||0||6.8||6.1||47.8%||3||0|
|Taylor Alie||QB||6'0, 185||Jr.||NR||NR||9||145||3||16.1||17.3||66.7%||0||0|
|Charles Nelson||WR||5'8, 170||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8706||6||115||1||19.2||20.9||66.7%||2||1|
|J.J. Jones||RB||5'9, 180||Sr.||NR||NR||4||15||0||3.8||2.3||50.0%||0||0|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Darren Carrington||WR||6'2, 195||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9181||45||32||609||71.1%||12.5%||13.5||46.7%||53.3%||2.56|
|Dwayne Stanford||WR||6'5, 205||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8935||44||30||463||68.2%||12.2%||10.5||61.4%||59.1%||1.72|
|TE||6'6, 250||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9233||33||26||420||75.8%||7.0%||12.7||78.8%||N/A||N/A|
|Royce Freeman||RB||5'11, 230||Jr.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9817||31||26||348||83.9%||8.6%||11.2||51.6%||67.7%||1.61|
|Charles Nelson||WR||5'8, 170||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8706||31||17||270||54.8%||8.6%||8.7||61.3%||45.2%||1.90|
|Evan Baylis||TE||6'6, 250||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9153||27||16||229||59.3%||7.5%||8.5||51.9%||44.4%||1.79|
|Devon Allen||WR||6'0, 185||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9078||18||9||94||50.0%||5.0%||5.2||55.6%||44.4%||1.01|
|Taj Griffin||RB||5'10, 175||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9742||14||10||162||71.4%||3.9%||11.6||71.4%||50.0%||2.29|
|Jalen Brown||WR||6'1, 200||So.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9471||12||7||89||58.3%||3.3%||7.4||75.0%||33.3%||2.28|
|Johnny Mundt||TE||6'4, 245||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8504||9||5||39||55.6%||2.5%||4.3||77.8%||44.4%||1.01|
|Alex Ofodile||WR||6'3, 200||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9443|
|Jacob Breeland||TE||6'5, 221||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8600|
|Dylan Kane||WR||6'3, 195||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8482|
|Dillon Mitchell||WR||6'1, 190||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9280|
|Tristen Wallace||WR||6'4, 235||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.9197|
|Cam McCormick||TE||6'5, 230||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8656|
4. All the weapons you need (again)
Oregon lost Mariota, repeatedly dealt with Adams injuries, and got a combined four games out of Thomas Tyner (RB), Byron Marshall (WR), and Pharaoh Brown (TE). That's a recipe for a downfall, and the Ducks' offense did regress ... all the way from second to ninth in Off. S&P+.
While QB will continue to be a mystery, the skill guys surrounding the QB will be known entities.
- Royce Freeman is an incredible workhorse back who would be getting far more national attention if not for the presence of so many other great backs -- Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, etc. Only 14 players carried the ball at least 275 times last season, and of those, only Freeman and Fournette combined an opportunity rate of at least 44 percent with an average of at least 6.1 highlight yards per opportunity. He was 164 yards from maybe the quietest 2,000-yard season ever in 2015.
- Backups Taj Griffin, Kani Benoit, and Tony Brooks-James all averaged at least 7.1 highlight yards per opportunity, and among backs with at least 70 carries, no one could touch Griffin's 12.3 average (the next highest: Georgia Southern's Matt Breida and Favian Upshaw, at 10.9 and 10.8).
- In two years, Darren Carrington has been targeted 95 times and caught 69 passes for 1313 yards. That's a crazy 13.8 yards per target. Notre Dame's Will Fuller averaged just 13.2 per target last year. TCU's Josh Doctson: 12.4.
- Most offenses are lucky to have one key receiver averaging over 10 yards per target. But it wasn't only who was Carrington absurdly prolific; Dwayne Stanford averaged 10.5 per target, Freeman and Griffin averaged a combined 11.3, and in 2014 Brown averaged 12.7.
This might be the most dangerous receiving corps in the country, and I didn't even mention receiver (and part-time cornerback) Charles Nelson or tight end Evan Baylis. Or four-star sophomore Jalen Brown. Or four-star redshirt freshman Alex Ofodile. Et cetera.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Tyler Johnstone||LT||13||39||2015 1st All-Pac-12|
|Cameron Hunt||RG||6'4, 290||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9012||10||31|
|Zac Morgan (Dayton)||RT||6'7, 280||Sr.||NR||NR||12||26|
|Tyrell Crosby||LT||6'5, 310||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8784||12||21|
|Doug Brenner||RG||6'2, 305||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8270||3||4|
|Evan Voeller||LG||6'5, 290||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9017||2||2|
|Jake Pisarcik||LG||6'2, 300||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8081||0||2|
|Elijah George||LT||6'5, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8228||0||0|
|Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia||LG||6'2, 300||So.||NR||0.7667||0||0|
|Zach Okun||C||6'4, 310||RSFr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9058|
|Brady Aiello||LT||6'7, 275||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8774|
|Shane Lemieux||LG||6'6, 302||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8706|
|Calvin Throckmorton||RT||6'6, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8675|
|Jake Hanson||C||6'5, 288||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8591|
5. FCS All-Stars
It would be pretty surprising if Oregon once again pursued an FCS graduate transfer at quarterback in 2017. That would be a sign that either Jonsen, Wilson, or fellow freshman Justin Herbert hadn't seized control of the job. I assume one will.
Still, I have to admit that I love Oregon taking so many of these guys. It confirms the skill in college football's second level, and it opens up another pipeline of talent for the Ducks. If Prukop thrives in any way like Adams did, it will be interesting to watch the free agent market of FCS graduate transfer talent explode. (I wouldn't necessarily love that, because while I like the graduate transfer rule, I don't want to see every good player from every small/bad school leaving for somewhere else as a senior.)
I bring this up in the offensive line section because Helfrich didn't stop with Prukop this year. He also secured the commitment of one of FCS' better blockers, Dayton's two-year starting tackle Zac Morgan. Morgan isn't on campus yet, but if he makes it there, he will bring extra depth to what should be a pretty good line. Longtime starting left tackle Tyler Johnstone is gone, as is Matt Hegarty (himself a graduate transfer from Notre Dame), but with Morgan Oregon should have six players with starting experience on the depth chart. And from most accounts, redshirt freshman Jake Hanson is ready to take the center reins for the next four seasons.
Prukop is far less sack-prone than Adams was at the FCS level, and that alone should help Oregon's dismal sack rate. And let's just say it's hard to worry too much about the run blocking, even if short-yardage execution could stand to improve.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||45.5%||103||Succ. Rt. +||100.8||65|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||32.4||24||Off. FP+||32.6||18|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.9||105||Redzone S&P+||100.2||71|
|Q1 Rk||44||1st Down Rk||85|
|Q2 Rk||60||2nd Down Rk||92|
|Q3 Rk||104||3rd Down Rk||67|
6. Hello again, Brady Hoke
When you fail as a head coach, we tend to label you a Bad Coach, ignoring all the unique responsibilities that come with being a head coach and forgetting you were most likely an awesome coordinator before that.
Hoke hasn't been a coordinator since 1982 at Yorktown (Ind.) High. But the Ball State grad spent eight seasons on Lloyd Carr's Michigan coaching staff; in that span, the Wolverines never ranked worse than 27th in scoring defense and ranked 14th or better four times. As San Diego State's head coach, he inherited a defense that had ranked 113th in Def. S&P+ and had it up to 67th in his second year. And lord knows that defense wasn't his problem as Michigan's head coach -- in four seasons, the Wolverines ranked between 12th and 27th in Def. S&P+ each year.
Suffice it to say, Oregon would be fine with 27th. After last year, the Ducks would probably be fine with 50th.
Going back down to coordinator doesn't always work out. But with the personnel, Hoke should probably be able to shore up the pass defense and turn it into a strength again. The run defense might be a different story: Oregon ranked 108th in Rushing S&P+ last year and now replaces three of its four leading tacklers on the line and each of the top four at linebacker.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Torrodney Prevot||DE||6'3, 225||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9238||13||35.0||4.7%||7.5||2.5||0||2||1||0|
|Henry Mondeaux||DE||6'5, 280||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8631||13||19.0||2.5%||6.5||4.0||0||3||0||0|
|Jalen Jelks||DE||6'6, 268||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8690||11||7.5||1.0%||3.0||3.0||0||1||1||0|
|Austin Maloata||DT||6'1, 305||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8585||12||4.5||0.6%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Eddie Heard||DE||6'3, 250||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8570||11||4.0||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|T.J. Daniel||DE||6'6, 275||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.7508||10||3.0||0.4%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Rex Manu||NT||6'3, 315||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8523||12||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Cody Carriger||DE||6'6, 240||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8381|
|Canton Kaumatule||DT||6'7, 295||So.||4 stars (6.0)||0.9907|
|Justin Hollins||DE||6'6, 230||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8504|
|Gary Baker||NT||6'4, 298||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8585|
|Drayton Carlberg||DT||6'5, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8584|
|Gus Cumberlander||DE||6'6, 250||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8403|
|Bryson Young||DE||6'5, 230||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9065|
|Wayne Kirby||NT||6'3, 320||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8422|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Danny Mattingly||ILB||6'5, 245||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8898||11||18.5||2.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Johnny Ragin III||OLB||6'3, 225||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8591||12||16.5||2.2%||1.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Jimmie Swain||OLB||6'2, 235||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8929||13||10.5||1.4%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kaulana Apelu||ILB||5'11, 196||So.||NR||NR||13||3.5||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Paris Bostick||OLB||6'1, 220||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8457||2||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|De'Quan McDowell||OLB||6'1, 203||Sr.||NR||NR||10||2.5||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jonah Moi||OLB||6'4, 250||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8517|
|A.J. Hotchkins||ILB||5'11, 230||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8798|
|Lamar Winston||OLB||6'3, 220||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9058|
|Darrian Franklin||OLB||6'1, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8919|
|Keith Simms||ILB||6'3, 235||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8831|
|Troy Dye||OLB||6'4, 210||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8615|
|Eric Briscoe Jr.||OLB||6'3, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8366|
7. A bad time for a rebuild on the front seven
Rebuilding a bad front is less pressure-packed than rebuilding a good one, but Hoke's got a lot of work to do. Oregon didn't provide nearly enough disruption up front -- 98th in stuff rate, 79th in passing downs sack rate -- and now has to replace six of the nine front-seveners who had at least five tackles for loss. DeForest Buckner was an incredible weapon at end, and returning linebackers (at least guys who, as Hoke moves from a 3-4 to a 4-3, are now considered LBs) combined for 1.5 TFLs last year.
Oregon does seem to have some talent at defensive end, where Torrodney Prevot, Henry Mondeaux, and Jalen Jelks combined for 17 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, and six break-ups last year. If Hoke can craft a nice pass rush to go with what really could be an excellent secondary, then if or when Oregon creates passing downs, the Ducks should be able to end drives pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, it's the "creating passing downs" part that could be an issue. Oregon's run defense was a nightmare, and unless sophomore tackle Canton Kaumatule suddenly discovers his ceiling, it's hard to imagine it improving much, at least beyond "progression toward the mean" levels.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Tyree Robinson||S||6'4, 205||Jr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9314||13||51.0||6.8%||1.5||1||3||5||0||0|
|Reggie Daniels||S||6'1, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.9085||11||48.0||6.4%||2.5||0||0||10||0||0|
|Arrion Springs||CB||5'11, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.9595||13||44.0||5.9%||1||1||1||12||2||1|
|Charles Nelson||S||5'8, 170||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8706||12||41.0||5.5%||1||0||2||4||0||0|
|Ugo Amadi||CB||5'10, 185||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8784||13||22.5||3.0%||2||0||2||3||0||0|
|Khalil Oliver||S||6'0, 200||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8191||13||19.0||2.5%||0.5||0||1||1||0||0|
|Juwaan Williams||S||6'0, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||7||17.5||2.3%||1||0||1||1||1||0|
|Chris Seisay||CB||6'1, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8739||5||16.0||2.1%||1||0||1||1||0||0|
|Fotu Leiato II||S||6'1, 200||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8650||13||5.0||0.7%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ty Griffin||CB||6'0, 200||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8056||6||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Mattrell McGraw||S||5'10, 185||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8834|
|Malik Lovette||CB||5'11, 205||RSFr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9389|
|Jihree Stewart||CB||6'0, 182||RSFr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8585|
|Brady Breeze||S||6'1, 200||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)||0.9025|
8. Youth becomes experience
Eleven Oregon defensive backs recorded at least 3 tackles last year: four true or redshirt freshmen, six sophomores, one junior, and no seniors. It probably shouldn't have been surprising, then, that the secondary struggled mightily in September, allowing a passer rating of 152.7 in the first four games -- 156.9 against EWU, 144.0 against Georgia State, and 181.5 against Utah.
After the Utah game, however, this turned into a pretty solid unit. Over the last nine games, Oregon allowed a 133.7 passer rating. That's not amazing, but considering the upgrade in competition over the last nine games -- a stretch that included Washington State, California, Stanford, USC, and TCU -- that's pretty exciting. There were still plenty of breakdowns, but again: four freshmen, six sophomores. Plus, only five of this group of 11 DBs played in all 13 games. There was enough shuffling that Charles Nelson had to return to the secondary from the receiving corps.
There was one transfer, but 10 players from this batch of 11 return (nine of 10 if we ignore Nelson), including safeties Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels and corners Arrion Springs and Ugo Amadi. This foursome combined for seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, and 30 breakups. And junior Chris Seisay is back from injury and likely to start as well. This unit has both depth and experience after lacking both in 2015.
|Ian Wheeler||6'0, 205||Jr.||50||39.8||2||15||11||52.0%|
|Matt Wogan||6'2, 210||Sr.||98||63.8||62||0||63.3%|
|Aidan Schneider||6'4, 235||Jr.||67-67||16-18||88.9%||6-6||100.0%|
|Charles Nelson||KR||5'8, 170||Jr.||33||26.5||1|
|Special Teams S&P+||15|
|Field Goal Efficiency||9|
|Punt Return Success Rate||12|
|Kick Return Success Rate||37|
|Punt Success Rate||88|
|Kickoff Success Rate||21|
9. A field position bailout
Oregon was able to create pretty good field position for its offense despite a lack of defensive efficiency. That's hard to do, but a return game that featured Charles Nelson, Byron Marshall, and Bralon Addison pulled it off. Nelson is the only returnee from that trio, but he's a keeper, and Matt Wogan's kickoffs are deep and efficient as well. Plus, Aidan Schneider is an excellent place-kicker. The only weakness here is in the punting department, but that only means so much when you've got a top-10 offense.
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|1-Oct||at Washington State||48||6.5||65%|
|26-Nov||at Oregon State||86||14.4||80%|
|Projected wins: 8.2|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||46.6% (2)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||19 / 19|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||5 / 1.8|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+1.1|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||64% (49%, 79%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||8.8 (0.2)|
For Oregon fans
For Oregon fans
10. A breaking-in period
If Alabama, one of the few programs as consistently awesome as Oregon, were to go 9-4 in 2016, we would put the Tide right back in the top five the next year.
It's not fair to compare anyone to Alabama, but I do find it interesting how quickly we jumped off of the Oregon bandwagon. A bad run defense would prevent the Ducks from title contention, but they get both Stanford and Washington at home, and they might be afforded an opportunity they didn't have last year: breaking a new QB in a little bit.
Adams had to head to Michigan State with a hand injury in his second game. Whoever wins the QB job this year will start with UC Davis and Virginia, and after a trip to Nebraska, the Ducks welcome Colorado to Eugene. At worst, that's a 3-1 start and a chance to find a rhythm before the trickier games begin. Oregon has six games with an S&P+ win probability of at least 65 percent, and five come in the first seven games.