2017 Football Preview – Pac 12 – Ducks
Looking for 2017 Oregon Ducks predictions? The Ducks are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in program history. That may sound hyperbolic, but while the four wins (the fewest since 1991) were bad, the disappointment had more to do with failing to meet expectations in a year everyone knew was crucial to Mark Helfrich’s standing with the team.
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- Head Coach: Willie Taggart
- 2015 Record: 4-7
- Oregon Ducks Odds to win the 2017 FBS Championship: 80/1
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As it turned out, four wins, a Civil War loss and no bowl game were enough for Helfrich to get the can. Now, Oregon looks to fulfill a complete facelift and turn things around sooner rather than later.
2017 Oregon Ducks Predictions: Team Strengths
Coaching: Typically, when a team comes into a season with a completely new coaching staff, that’s a weakness—or a question mark at best. But for Oregon, this is exactly what the program needed.
The irony in Helfrich being fired is that the head coach was doing exactly what the Ducks asked him to do when he was hired. When Chip Kelly bolted for the NFL, the athletic program at Oregon considered many names much bigger than Helfrich. However, it ultimately decided it wanted Chip Kelly 2.0.
The problem for Helfrich is that once Kelly’s recruits were gone, so was Kelly’s flair. Helfrich kept the blur offense, trick plays and go-for-two mentality (because that’s what the university wanted), but he was also never able to get a grasp on the team and establish his own system (which the university needed).
The Ducks may not know exactly what they’re going to get out of Taggart, and quite frankly, some off-field drama has taken center stage for this new staff. But what they do know is that they’ve officially moved on from the Chip Kelly era.
That in and of itself is a huge win for this program.
Scoring Points: If there’s going to be one similarity between this year’s Ducks and the Ducks of past eras, it’s that points are going to come in high volume. That’s good news for a fan base that, while needing change, might not be ready to accept a 21-points-per-game, grit-and-grind style just yet.
Although there are plenty of questions at quarterback, Justin Herbert has shown a lot of potential. He hasn’t technically been named the starter as of this writing, but he’s the clear favorite and it would be a shock to see anyone else on the roster leapfrog him at this point in the process.
Along with Herbert, who took over as the starter halfway through last season, is veteran tailback Royce Freeman. Before going down with an injury in the first quarter against Nebraska last season, Freeman was projected to be in the Heisman race by the end of the year.
There were rumblings that he’d take his chances at the NFL draft following last year, but once Taggart arrived in Eugene, the running back saw the potential he had to put up huge numbers and improve upon last year’s debacle of a season.
Also in the backfield is Tony Brooks-James, who averaged an impressive 7.6 yards per carry last season and is the perfect lightning to Freeman’s thunder in the running attack.
2017 Oregon Ducks Predictions: Team Weaknesses
Defense: It’s funny, really. The Ducks are nationally known as an offensive team. We see the blur offense and all the points they put up, yet some of their biggest names in the NFL have come from the defense.
Unfortunately for this crew, last year’s defense was absolutely atrocious.
Only two teams in the entire country gave up more points per game than Oregon (Texas Tech, 43.5/California, 42.6), and while they Ducks were busy giving up 41.4 points per contest, they were also third-worst in yards allowed per game, 15th-worst in passing yards allowed per game and eighth-worst in rushing yards allowed per game.
The catch in all of this is that the defense, while talented enough, was learning a drastically new system under new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke.
The bigger problem, however, is that the team is now adjusting to yet another new system under Jim Leavitt.
After what we saw last year, we know a new system can’t hurt. But the question is: Will it help in Year 1 of a new system?
Oregon Ducks Prediction: 8-4
Anytime you can double your win total in one season, you’re doing something right.
The problem is when you do that after winning fewer than five games the year before, you’re still not going to move the needle much on a national level.
For the Ducks—a program that has been defined by excellence as of late—baby steps are hard to accept. But that’s what fans in Eugene should expect, at least in comparison to their recent success.
If the team can win nine games, or even push 10, it will prove to be ahead of schedule. But as for now, eight victories should be considered a win in Year 1 of a new era.
2017 Oregon Ducks Football Schedule
- 9/2/17 8:15 PM ET SUU
- 9/9/17 4:30 PM ET NEB
- 9/16/17 7:00 PM ET @WYO
- 9/23/17 TBD @ASU
- 9/30/17 TBD CAL
- 10/7/17 TBD WSU
- 10/14/17 TBD @STAN
- 10/21/17 TBD @UCLA
- 10/28/17 TBD UTAH
- 11/4/17 TBD @WASH
- 11/18/17 TBD ARIZ
- 11/25/17 TBD ORST
What do you think about our 2017 Oregon Ducks predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2017!
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