We're less than a month away from fall camp, and with the end of the US Olympic trials, football is coming into focus.
I don't think too many Duck fans, myself included, have many questions about the defense. Oregon has (according to Phil Steele) the best secondary in the nation, with 3 players on the Thorpe Award watch list, has a solid pass rush with Nick Reed an Will Tukuafu coming off the ends, and has depth and talent elsewhere. Every Mike Bellotti team that has allowed less then 25 points per game has had at least 9 wins. No team that allowed more than that has reached 9 wins. I think that this defense will allow less than 25/game.
As we all know, the questions are on offense, specifically, the QB.
Well, if Nate Costa has anything to say about it, there will be no drop off from last season. Ted Miller of ESPN.com caught up with Costa, and had an excellent interview. While none of us have really seen Costa play, he is saying all the right things. It's fairly clear that at this point, according to the team and coaches, the QB spot is Costa's to lose, and I don't see him losing it. He wants to be a leader, he is working hard, and he exudes confidence. Will he make the plays? We'll see, but he is in the right frame of mind to get things done. Also, he seems to have really gleaned the wisdom of Dixon and Leaf, and taken the lessons of the last 2 seasons to heart. Learning from the mistakes of 2006 and the successes of 2007 will be key to a great year in 2008.
And he should have lots of help. The running game will be strong behind the offensive line, which has good experience at Center and Left Tackle, with a good amount of depth, and 3 solid running backs. There's no reason to think that there would be a significant drop-off from last season. The other main offensive newcomer, LaGarrette Blount, is also ready to hit somebody. When asked about his upright running style, he said, "They’re going to hit me, I’m going to hit them. Let the best man win.”
The more I hear, the more opptimistic I become. The running game should not have a large drop off, especially in the early games, and should be very dependable while the QBs and WRs grow. Despite the tough road games the team faces, the schedule sets up nicely, with the majority of the toughest games in the middle to end of the season. If Costa plays half as good as he talks, the offense should be very good.
In the Sun Bowl, I think the Ducks got a B- performance out of the QB position, and with a strong defense and running game, we all saw where that left the team. If mistakes are minimized, there's no reason the team shouldn't average 30 points a game. That's a big if, but with Chip Kelly running the show, it's not all that outlandish.
So, what are your thoughts on the offense? Any predictions? Leave 'em in the comments.