After the success of the 2014 Oregon football team, the 2015 Ducks entered the season with high expectations.
There were expectations from themselves, fans, and local and national media — expectations that seemed reasonable due to the continuous success the Ducks have enjoyed over the last decade.
This season the Ducks enter the mid-season point at 3-3, a number of loses the Ducks haven’t seen since 2009.
Although the Ducks haven’t met their lofty goals so far, many Ducks have played at a high level all season long. It would be unfair to overlook their hard work.
Royce Freeman: Coming into the 2015 season, Freeman figured to be the go-to guy in the backfield. As a freshman, Freeman made his presence known and looked to continue his success this season, and he has done just that.
Freeman leads the team and conference in scoring with 11 touchdowns and leads the conference in rushing with 859 yards through six games.
With questions regarding the quarterback position, the Oregon offense has continued to lean on Freeman. The RB has proven he is more than capable of handling a much larger role within the offense.
He has also proven he is capable of not only playing at a high level in college, but he has a good chance of making a name for himself on Sundays.
Yes, the offense has many question marks, but Freeman definitely isn’t one of them.
DeForest Buckner: This senior is another player who, much like Freeman, has always played at a high level. With the departure of Arik Armstead a season ago, all eyes were on Buckner coming into the 2015 season.
Buckner leads the Ducks and ranks fifth overall in the conference with 3.5 sacks. Besides sacks, Buckner has also tallied 30 total tackles and 7 tackles for loss.
He has continued to solidify himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the conference, as well as the nation. The amount of attention Buckner has received while he continues to dominate his competition speaks to how truly good he is.
The defense has given up big plays and points, but the production from Buckner cannot be overlooked. He has made the most of the decision to return to Oregon for his senior season, so far.
Kicking Game: Thinking about players who have stood out so far – Matt Wogan and Aidan Schneider. They may be overlooked due to their roles and positions on the team, but their stats have been impressive.
In an era of college football where most teams score at a higher rate than we have ever seen, the kicking aspect of the game cannot be overlooked.
That is why Wogan is on this list. Through six games Wogan has totaled 31 touchbacks. The ability to consistently make an opponent drive 75 yards for points is something that is highly underestimated and overlooked.
Along with Wogan is Schneider, who has become a legitimate scoring option for the Ducks this season.
Schneider is third in the Pac-12 in scoring, trailing only his teammate Freeman and Stanford running back Remound Wright.
The ability to call upon a kicker you fully trust in is huge. The offense isn’t always going to be able to put up points, but ending a drive with three points instead of zero is impactful and could potentially be the difference in a game.
Schneider is 9-9 on field goal attempts so far this season, and with the Oregon offense still trying to find a rhythm, Schneider will most likely be called upon many more times down the stretch.
The 2015 Oregon football season may seem like a what could have been year. It is hard to take the good from the bad, but it is hard to overlook the stats Freeman, Buckner, Schneider and Wogan are producing.
At the end of the day, the overall team record is what people see, but let’s also acknowledge and appreciate there is good talent being displayed on Saturdays by this group of players.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck