Friday, May 7, 2010
Oregon spring wrap
By ESPN.com staff
2009 overall record: 10-3
2009 conference record: 8-1 (conference champion)
Offense: 9, Defense: 9, punter/kicker: 1
Top returners: RB LaMichael James, WR Jeff Maehl, OT Bo Thran, DT Brandon Bair, DE Kenny Rowe, LB Casey Matthews, LB Spencer Paysinger
Key losses: QB Jeremiah Masoli, TE Ed Dickson, DE Will Tukuafu, FS T.J. Ward
2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)
Rushing: LaMichael James* (1,608)
Passing: Jeremiah Masoli (2,147)
Receiving: Jeff Maehl* (696)
Tackles: John Boyett* (90)
Sacks: Kenny Rowe* (11.5)
Interceptions: Talmadge Jackson* (4)
1. The secondary is deep: Injuries forced the Ducks to use a lot of young players in the secondary in 2009. The payoff this fall should be what amounts to four returning starters and some experienced backups. But, hold your horses. A number of youngsters, including hotshot freshmen such Terrance Mitchell, were impressive this spring and could eclipse those with starting experience.
2. Position changes worked: Eddie Pleasant moved from linebacker to safety and he's in line to start after showing a good learning curve for playing in space. Dion Jordan switched from tight end to defensive end and he looks like a potential breakout player -- particularly as a pass rusher -- in 2010.
3. Tight end looks good: One of the questions entering spring was replacing All-Pac-10 tight end Ed Dickson. It appears that David Paulson, Dickson's backup last year, and JC transfer Brandon Williams are ready for their close-ups. In the fall, touted freshman Curtis White arrives and could play his way into the mix.
1. Who's the starting QB? Think this is a big one? It seems as though senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darron Thomas are about even at the end of spring, which means this will be one of the more closely watched competitions in the nation. Sure would have been easier if Jeremiah Masoli had... oh, never mind.
2. How good is the defense? While many see Oregon as an offensive power, the Ducks were underrated on defense last year and expect to be better this fall. How much better could determine whether they win the Pac-10 title and finish in the nation's top-10.
3. Who's the kicker? While it's not a spotlight position like quarterback, the competition at kicker is just as undecided. Will it be between Rob Beard, the 2009 kickoff specialist, and incoming freshman Alejandro Maldonado?