Time for a little game of Fact or Fiction with the Addicted to Quack editors. We all know how this game works. A statement is thrown out there and you get to say FACT or FICTION with a description of why you feel that way. Click the jump for the arguments and vote in the poll. Here comes the question
Fact or Fiction: Chip Kelly will get 10 wins in his first season as head coach of the Oregon Ducks.
PaulSF > FACT
The Ducks' 2009 schedule favors a big year with two non-conference home games against Purdue and Utah, and their four toughest Pac-10 foes at home: Cal, USC, ASU and OSU. Oregon's toughest road game is likely its season opener, a rematch of last year's disappointing loss to Boise State. Call me the supreme optimist, but I'm predicting the Ducks rattle off seven straight to open the Chip Kelly Era, entering the showdown with USC in Eugene at 7-0. Bold? Absolutely, but look at their slate: Four of their first seven are at Autzen, and two of their three road games are against teams that finished 8th and 10th in the conference in 2008, respectively. Do I think the Ducks could lose to Cal, or Utah, or Boise State or Purdue? Sure. I just don't think they will.
There's also another factor: Assuming the Ducks get a bowl bid, they'll play 13 games for the fourth straight year. In the previous three seasons, the Ducks have finished with 10, 9, and 7 wins, respectively. You could argue they had subpar talent in 2006, but with only 12 games in 2005, the Ducks used top-notch talent to finish with 10 wins. I think the Ducks are better overall than they were in 2005. Considering the favorable schedule, and barring any unforeseen surprises, I think the Ducks finish 10-2 heading into their bowl game, which, I hope, will be in 2010, not 2009.
JConant > FACT
I feel sheepish making predictions prior to fall practices when we'll see who really is healed and ready to go, and who isn't. But what the hell. Yes, I believe Chip Kelly will get 10 wins in his first season. Unfortunately, I believe that 10th win will come in the Sun Bowl, which will mean the team didn't have the kind of season most of us are hoping for.
Where do the three loses come from? Some combination of Boise State, Cal, USC, UCLA and Arizona. Why do I think we could lose three of those? A few reasons:
First, I'm concerned about LaGarrette Blount's commitment. Forget the O-line issues, seeing him twice in person this spring I was really unimpressed. My gut tells me that LaGarrette, in his mind, may have already punched his ticket to the NFL. I will believe that he is healthy, in game shape, 2008-fast and in the right frame of mind when I see it on the field. I think it's very possible we'll be bemoaning how much we miss JJ halfway through the '09 season. Second, Chris Harper is close, but not quite there yet. His offensive contributions will be limited. True stardom for Harper happens in 2010, I think. Third, defenses in the conference are improving and many defensive coordinators are seeing the CK spread for the third time. I would be surprised if Oregon matches last season's offensive output against a schedule that could feature at least five ranked teams. Last, our situation on the O-line is precarious. I have faith in Greatwood, but he can't stop injuries from happening. I like our starting unit, but we do not have a lot of depth.
Could I be wrong on all counts? I hope so. I do believe this team has a lot of potential. A win at highly ranked Boise State - in what will likely be BSU's biggest home game ever - could be the start of something very, very special.
jtlight > FACT
At this point, I think that the BSU and Cal games are toss-ups, while USC is a probably loss, and that Oregon should be favored in the rest of their games. However, I say this with a few reservations.
As always, I'm concerned about the secondary. We didn't see great production from that unit (outside of Thurmond) through most of the spring. This was due in part to injuries, but I don't feel that we had a safety step up. I'm not as worried about the corners, as if we get good safety play, the corners will be just fine. But we had serious safety issues last season, and it forced the coaching staff to totally change the gameplan. One of the reasons that USC's pass defense is so good, is that Taylor Mays can cover the whole field by himself, and that backup gives insane confidence to the cornerbacks. Oregon cornerbacks did not have that advantage last year. I feel that our corners are physically talented, but the nature of the game is that just about any wide receiver can seperate from a cornerback if given enough time, especially if that cornerback does not have competent deep help.
Next, I'm a bit worried about the running backs, simply because of depth. At this point, we should have 4 healthy scholarship running backs when fall camp starts. But that can dwindle quickly, as we saw during the spring. I don't share the Blount concerns that many have voiced, and think he'll be more than fine. But he really needs to have someone to back him up. I think that LaMichael James will fill that hole, but we just haven't seen him. However, I think he's the type that can totally change the game. Having him with Blount could be a totally lethal combo.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the offensive line. It grew a lot in the spring, but was just not very good. Again, injuries were a major problem. At one point, the line only had 5 scholarhip linemen available during the spring game. This obviously shouldn't happen during the year, but again, we just haven't seen what will be on the field in the fall. But, and I will be repeating this all summer, "In Greatwood We Trust."
That said, I am encouraged by the team we will be putting on the field. Oregon has as much talent as an entire team as they have ever had. Overall, the team is deep and should be very good. If they get competent play out of the question areas, this could be a 10 win team. If we get a few pleasant surprises, the season could go even higher.
dvieira > FACT
I think it will be close but I'm going FACT, not because of all the good teams that are out there, but because of all the teams that we should beat given our experience. I'm classifying the opponents for next season into 2 different categories...Must Win and Like to Win. Any loss to a team in the "must win" category will need to be equaled from the "like to win" category. Must win games are Boise State, Purdue, Washington State, UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Arizona State, and Arizona. In the Like to Win category, you have the rest of the teams...Utah, California, USC and Oregon State. If you win all of your must win games, you need to get 2 wins against teams in the like to win category to make 10 wins during the regular season with only 1 win and a bowl game win to hit the magic 10 win mark. Out of the must win teams, I think Oregon has a good shot at beating Utah, Oregon State and Cal in that order and all those games are at home.