No. 24 – The 2017 Oregon Ducks enter this next season with a new sheriff in town. Willie Taggart left The University of South Florida to head northwest to Duck country. Oregon is coming of a 4-8 season, and look to bounce back quickly. Just three seasons ago, Oregon was competing in the inaugural College Football Playoff, losing to Ohio State in the Championship.
Taggart’s first recruiting class ranks third in the Pac-12, led by two cornerbacks, Thomas Graham Jr., and Deommodore Lenior. Both look to start early and often, and could form a talented duo for many years to come. Joining them on the defensive side of the ball is linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia. At 6’1/220, this 4 star prospect has the size to make an impact early for the Ducks defense.
Oregon is returning their starting QB, their top three rushers and their front five, making this one of the more experienced offenses in the conference, and look to score 40+ a game like the Ducks of old.
The team hopes Justin Herbert can continue to grow as a starting quarterback, after throwing for nearly 2000 yards, 19 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Herbert’s big moment last year came against Arizona St. when he exploded for 489 yards and 4 touchdowns. Behind Herbert will be Royce Freeman who surprised people when he decided to return for his senior season. Freeman was the Ducks leading rusher with 945 yards and 9 touchdowns.
The biggest question for the Ducks will be their defense. Last season the Ducks ranked 126 in scoring defense, allowing 41.4 points per game. The bulk of their recruiting class is defenders, but the biggest issue was their defense against the ground game. The allowed just shy of 250 yards per game, and gave up 378 yards on the ground to Washington. Troy Dye looks to be the guy to do the bulk of the run stopping. After breaking out as the best freshman linebacker in the conference, Dye will be the centerpiece for this positional group. Last season, Dye recorded nearly 100 tackles and had 7.5 sacks. This defense needs him to step up even more.
Taggart’s time at Oregon started on the wrong foot when three players were hospitalized during January workouts. The culture of the once elite Oregon Ducks will need to shape up quickly if they want to make a run at the Pac-12 title.
Here are some Key Games for the Ducks
- Oregon vs. Nebraska – Sept. 9 – Eugene, OR.
- Oregon @ Stanford- Oct 14 – Palo Alto, CA.
- Oregon @ Washington- Nov. 4- Seattle, WA.
Here’s MMM’s segment with GoDucks.com’s Rob Moseley: