While many fans will be basking in the glow of a Rose Bowl championship up through August, spring ball is still the natural time to begin thinking about next season. While there is much to be excited about, there is also a lot of change. Despite three Pac-10/12 titles in a row, the Ducks are once again NOT the offseason favorite to win the conference title next season in media circles.
The facts are that Oregon has won three straight conference titles. Chip Kelly has still lost only two conference games in three years. He i\s the hands down best coach in the league. The defense returns so much experienced talent that it could be among the very best in school history, even better than what the Ducks put on the field the last couple of years. Yes, USC beat Oregon last year and is extremely talented, but their depth is thin, and surely Oregon won't sleepwalk through three quarters of the game this season. And with an SOS schedule that Kansas State would be proud of, Oregon will have plenty of time to break in their new players before the real challenges begin.
But the facts also state that this is Chip Kelly's first season without LaMichael James. Depth is extremely thin at the RB position, where one injury could spell complete disaster. We'll be breaking in a new QB and WR is a giant question mark. Whether Chip Kelly can simply "plug and play" will be a question that will definitively be answered this year. USC is the obvious threat, but coaching upgrades across the conference will make the entire schedule more difficult. And the Pac-12 Title Game means that Oregon potentially must beat SC twice.
With that said, at this point in time, what are your expectations for the 2012?