Are you ready for some football? After an exhilarating basketball season that left us nearly speechless, we eagerly await the start of the Willie Taggart era. Oregon football is back and the 2017 Spring Game is just 20 days away.
The game will take place on Saturday, April 29. Coverage will begin at 11:00 a.m. PT from Autzen Stadium on the Pac-12 Network.
After months of anticipation, Oregon football is set for their next chapter. Following the firing of Mark Helfrich this offseason, the Ducks needed leadership desperately. Two weeks into April, the Webfoots are on the right path.
Personally, I am a huge fan of Willie Taggart. I like the way he conducts himself on and off the field. He is honest and upfront. Taggart understands the modern athlete. You can clearly see from his activity on Twitter, the coach doesn’t have much downtime.
Literally, the man never stops promoting Oregon. Whether it’s the basketball team or a former alum like De’Anthony Thomas, Taggart is on a mission to take UO to the top. In my opinion, he is just what the doctor ordered. The timing couldn’t be any better.
Coach Tag believes in conditioning. During the offseason, the rest of the nation became familiar with his program after three Ducks were taken to the hospital during a workout. I am from the small minority that believed it’s what Oregon needed to kickstart a new generation.
Former Colorado defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has been a huge motivation to this young team. He brings a smile to everyones face with his upbeat personality and constant positivity. He is a 180-degree difference from Brady Hoke. Leavitt’s NFL experience garners respect and admiration from his kids. This signing may be the most underrated move of Taggart’s time thus far.
Alongside a new staff and 24 more commits, the Ducks feature some veterans with unfinished business. The name atop the list of returnees is Royce Freeman. Oregon’s senior running back is looking to finish his historic collegiate career on a winning note. Not to mention, LaMichael James’ Oregon rushing record is in jeopardy with Rolls Royce back for his final season.
If the Pac-12 isn’t ready for Charles Nelson by now, they won’t be by September either. Taggart has inserted his most dynamic athlete into the slot, finally. Nelson may be the most difficult player in the conference to bring down in open space. Imagine what he does on special teams inside the Duck offensive game plan. Nelson will no longer be underutilized on special teams or at a position like safety.
Tony Brooks-James is the reason Oregon’s pack of running backs is so highly touted entering the 2017 campaign. The Ducks have four running backs capable of handling the load if needed. Nevertheless, TBJ could be starting for any other team in the Pac-12 outside his own. It should be interesting to see how he’ll be used in the offense, especially out of the backfield.
Justin Herbert is set for his sophomore season. Will he start? Will he take the next step in his progression? Or will he be replaced by a duel threat quarterback that is better suited for a Taggart team? Regardless, we can not overlook some brilliant moments from the Eugene kid during his true freshman year.
We can’t forget his heroics that led to an upset of No. 12 Utah in Salt Lake City.
I like Herbert’s demeanor and arm strength. He is sneaky athletic, but I am worried that he doesn’t provide enough of a threat for the defense with his feet.
Last but certainly not least, I am most excited about seeing Deommodore Lenoir whenever that may be. He is the star commit of the 2017 Oregon recruiting class. The 4-star product out of Los Angeles was ranked the No. 1 athlete in the country coming out of high school.
His presence on a young defense will be immeasurable this season. The future cornerback had offers to Alabama, LSU, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC and Washington to name a few. According to scouts, he is far more impressive live than on film. Regardless, Oregon fans will have to wait until fall to see him live in pads.
Ready or not, here comes football! Stick around ATQ for my extensive football coverage throughout the season.