As we turn to the final post in this series, I asked Raju to do a post on the ducks for two reasons. One, because he is infinitely more objective than I am and two, because 2015 may be the best chance for the ducks to start to come down to earth.
While I hate the ducks, the reality is 2015 marks the dip in past recruiting cycles for the men in green/yellow/white/black/gray/other green/off yellow/red/pink/chrome/tweener green/camo/lightning yellow/flat black/miner gray/podiatrist green/as yet unnamed color that can only be viewed by the mantis shrimp. This year and next year is the senior year of classes that had huge gaps in the ducks yield of defensive linemen and offensive linemen. That being said, in true “Selling their souls to Satan” fashion, their down year comes on everyone’s down year. Washington will be miserable, WSU has huge questions at receiver, QB and on defense, Stanford is replacing most of their glory days defense and the Beavers have a new coach for the first time in ages and thus have a sea of unknowns. So the University of Non-Learning will probably once again reign supreme in the north.
Who they lost:
It is almost easier to count what they didn’t lose. Gone is most of their defensive line, most of their secondary, the two best offensive linemen they have recruited since the early 2000’s and the best QB of the history of their school. While their offense is always explosive, their defense really won them a lot of games last year (see the Pac-12 Championship game). Their losses are deep and talented. THANK GOODNESS!
Who they return:
Some solid/exceptional running backs (Tyner and Freeman), Some decent receivers (Allen, Marshall, Carrington and Nelson), Pierson on the line is pretty good and Brown should be back from injury at Tight End. On defense, they return basically all of their linebackers, Buckner on the line and some dude at corner. If I am being honest, none of that (with the exception of Tyner, Freeman and Buckner) looks like something anyone should fear. I am basing my opinion about their dominance of the north on the age old media methodology of “Well, they were good last year.”
Running backs. And they will need to be. With newcomer Vernon Adams not making it to Spring Ball, your likely starter is going to be Jeff “Not Mariotta” Locke. That is not something to be stoked about if you are a duck fan. While he is getting better, the step back is drastic in terms of Uber Mario to Locke, QB of Mischief. So the backs have to be amazing and they have to be amazing all the time, because the defense is going to struggle stopping anyone.
While many will say QB (I am looking at you Raju), honestly, I say it is their defense. Their defense loses some great, great players and, honestly, their defensive system last year benefited from those players. Tony Washington was a beast all year for them, and Arik Armstead finally lived up to some of his hype. Getting their linebackers back, as well as Buckner, helps, but lets be honest. The losses in the secondary are scary. It was huge defensive stands that led them to victories over MSU, WSU, Utah and Arizona in the championship game. While they had issues last year on defense, the second half of the year, all those players that are gone really flexed their muscles and dominated some teams.
Way Too Early Prognostication:
Screw these guys. Yeah, they will probably win the north, yeah they will probably play in some BCS game. But honestly, in this new era of Beaver Football I am kind of done with the ducks. Sports are cyclical and if they can get hammered at Spartan Stadium in week two, and maybe lose later to ASU in Arizona, that would be awesome. Follow that up with a loss to USC and (swoon) a Civil War loss? The damage done to their recruiting efforts could be enough to continue the downward spin of the college football cycle.
Go Beavs! Boo Ducks.