Oregon welcomes back a heap of talent next year -- just four starters and kicker Morgan Flint depart -- and Ducks media and fans are already looking ahead.
Why the obsessive interest? Well, Oregon is certain to be ranked in the preseason top-10. Perhaps higher. Guess here is the Ducks will fall into the preseason rankings between No. 5 and No. 8.
A couple of things stand out.
First, Oregon will be much better at receiver next year. By the end of the season, Jeff Maehl was a top-flight Pac-10 receiver and the young talent is promising. Replacing tight end Ed Dickson won't be easy, but the Ducks have speed and size to catch the ball next year.
That's the offensive wrinkle that was missing in the Rose Bowl. When the spread-option isn't working, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli must be able to loosen things up by throwing downfield. He's shown he can when asked to -- right, California? -- but that needs to be a consistent part of the arsenal.
Second, if there is an area of concern, it's the defensive line. That's why that recent defection of previously committed, stud D-line recruit Dominique Easley to Florida ruffled some feathers.
Oregon needs some big, physical bodies to line up inside. It's hard to win a national title without a disruptive defensive line. Moreover, the Ducks aren't big at linebacker -- they need up-front protection.
Because national championship is what the Ducks are thinking, right?
If you look up and down that depth chart -- not just the starters, the entire two-deep -- and you see a lot of promise.
But promise never won a game. Recall, we saw a lot of promise with Cal's depth chart heading into the 2009 season.
How'd that turn out?