New coach (Willie Taggart), new defensive coordinator (Jim Leavitt) and a new chance to re-establish themselves as a Pac-12 power.
Sounds good to us for the Oregon Ducks, who tumbled from 9-4 to 4-8 last season, which was enough to cost low key Mark Helfrich his job. Taggart was a somewhat surprise pick from South Florida, where he won a consistent basis.
Taggart got off to a rocky start in Eugene when the Oregon strength coach was suspended after three players were hospitalized after some rigorous off season workouts and new co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was arrested on a DUI charge and resigned. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Things have settled down since, however.
The good news for the Ducks is that there is talent on the roster, with 16 starters returning including a combination of QB Justin Herbert and RB Royce Freeman and a veteran offensive line. Defensively, the bigest change is the arrival of Leavitt, who was running Colorado's improved defense a year ago and was brought in at a $1 million a year to fix the Duck defense. If that happens, Oregon could be one of the sleeper teams of the country, as well as the Pac-12.
Taggart's offenses always scored at South Florida and Oregon was No. 2 in the Pac-12 in scoring offense last season. Throw in a schedule which doesn't look overly taxing and an all conference caliber kicker in Aidan Schneider and you have a formula for success that should put the Ducks into a winning program again at the very least and contenders if everything goes right. Road games at Stanford and Washington should be the keys to the season.[/membership]