Here is team #12 and the 2010 Oregon Ducks Football Preview. All part of our 31 teams in 31 days college football season preview highlighting the best college football teams for the upcoming 2010 NCAA football season.
No. 12 Oregon Ducks
2009 record: 10-3
2009 Bowl Game: 26-17 loss to Ohio State in Rose Bowl
2009 ATS: 7-6
Returning starters: 17 (9 on offense, 8 on defense)
The Ducks went to the Rose Bowl last season and had their eyes on another strong season. And while one player doesn’t make an offense, the loss of Jeremiah Masoli will definitely hurt Oregon’s chances.
Masoli was suspended for the 2010 season after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor burglary charge and then kicked off the team after a citation for possession of marijuana. On top of losing Masoli, the Ducks don’t have star running back LaMichael James available for the season opener.
James pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge after an altercation with his former girlfriend and was suspended for the Ducks’ game against New Mexico.
Sophomore Darron Thomas will most likely replace Masoli at quarterback. Fifth-year senior Nate Costa is the other option at quarterback, but Thomas is the more athletic player. He can mimic Masoli’s playing style and be a weapon on the ground as well.
James ran for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and he should be able to put up similar numbers. Top receiver Jeff Maehl is returning and he will look to build on his 2009 numbers. He caught 53 passes for 696 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The defense returns eight starters and looks to have another great season. They have a very strong linebacking unit with seniors Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews leading the way.
Both players had 81 tackles last season. Paysinger had 6.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks, while Matthews had 1.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. Matthews added an interception to the mix.
The line isn’t very big, but the Duck’s pass rushers are speedy and dangerous. Senior defensive end weights only 232 pounds, but he had 11.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss last season. He also broke up for passes.
The secondary will be lead by sophomore safety John Boyett, who had 90 tackles and three interceptions in 2009. He also broke up five passes and had two tackles for a loss.
Cornerback Talmadge Jackson was the biggest ball hawk on the team in 2009 with four interceptions and will be responsible for covering NO.1 receivers. Sophomore Cliff Harris looks promising on the other side of the field.
Kicker Morgan Flint is gone and freshman Alejandro Maldonado will most likely take over kicking duties. Walk-on Rob Beard was the favorite for the job, but a fight in the offseason got him a one-game suspension. Beard has a stronger leg than both Flint and Maldonado, but had some problems with his accuracy at times.
Punter Jackson Rice had a great freshman season, and averaged 40.5 yards per punt. He forced 12 fair catches and made opposing offenses start within their own 20-yard line 23 times.
The Ducks lose Walter Thurmond in their return game. Thurmond scored a touchdown on a punt return in 2009. Oregon has a young talent in Kenjon Barner, who got some chances last season and scored on a kick return.
Against the spread
The Ducks went 7-6 against the college football oddsmakers line in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach in 2009. They were 3-2 as the home favorite and 2-2 as the away favorite. Oregon went 2-0 ATS as the home dog and 0-1 as the away underdog.
They did well against other teams from the Pac-10 going 6-3 ATS in conference games. They went 1-3 ATS when playing teams from other conferences. The Ducks are 69-53 ATS in the last ten years.
You can bet on it
As for some college football picks and predictions for Oregon, bet on the Ducks at Arizona State on September 25. Oregon beat the Sun Devils 44-21 last year behind 150 yards and three touchdowns from LaMichael James. The Ducks have won five straight against ASU with an average score of 42-19.
Favor the fade
Fade the Ducks in their season opener against the New Mexico Lobos. I don’t think the Lobos can beat Oregon, but they might be able to cover the spread. With new quarterback Thomas playing his first meaningful game at the college level, and with James missing, the offense could struggle. The spread against a lowly Lobos team that went 1-11 last year will be big, and the Ducks might not come away with that big of a win.