After four games into the season, a picture of what the Ducks will look like has started to emerge. Let me tell you, that picture is scary . . . for anyone who isn’t a Ducks fan. There are many reasons why teams should fear Oregon. Mariota, Thomas, Addison, Huff, Lyerla, Ekpre-Olomu, Mitchell . . . should I go on? I wanted to focus on a few big reasons that I feel the nation should really start taking notice, now and for the foreseeable future.
Defense wins championships
Ahh, the mantra of the SEC. Unfortunately for them and the rest of the nation, Oregon is there and has been for a few years. So far this year the Ducks rank 4th in scoring defense and yards per play, 9th in pass efficiency defense and 23rd in total defense.
Now, I know many people are under the impression that Oregon has not been tested yet. Well, the main reason high caliber teams don’t get tested is because . . . they’re just that good. Most teams in the nation would not be a test for Oregon, or Alabama, or LSU, etc. So don’t let the “they haven’t been tested” talk fool you. The Ducks D is elite, and young! I can’t wait for the future.
Special teams continue to be special
Oregon has been one of the top schools in regards to special teams for awhile now. That seems to be a trend that will continue at Oregon. Bralon Addison became one of just four players in conference history to return two punts for TDs in the same game. The last player, a Duck, was Cliff Harris. Special teams, much like defense, wins games. Where would the Ducks have ended up if Cliff Harris had not returned that punt against Cal?
Monsoon? What Monsoon?
It never rains in Autzen Stadium! That’s what you would have thought if you had been watching the score on a computer. While Oregon did fumble the ball a few times themselves, they were as dominant as they have ever looked. The Ducks hung 27 on the scoreboard in the 1st quarter and could have called it quits for the rest of the game. While many other teams seemed to melt down in the rain, Oregon truly appeared to be the Ducks they are . . . shedding water and soaring to the end zone.
Helfrich has swagger . . . and knows it
While it takes some new coaches time to adjust to the media, the recruiting and the overall job of head coach, Helfrich seems to have taken it all in stride. Watching his interviews and seeing his body language, he seems more like an obsessive-compulsive mad scientist version of Chip Kelly. That is a good thing, by the way. He doesn’t care about media or outside influences. He doesn’t care who scores, as long as they score. The offense is moving at a faster pace and playing more efficiently, if that is possible. Helfrich is being Helfrich, not Kelly . . . and this means good things for the Ducks.
Shift in national perception
To me personally, 2013 seems like the year that Oregon is finally receiving the national respect it deserves. In years past, it seemed that no matter how good Oregon was, they could not jump teams ranked above them in the polls (especially in the top 5), unless those teams lost. After wins for both teams, Oregon actually moved past “the Ohio State” into 2nd place and hasn’t looked back. Not only that, Oregon maintained its No. 2 ranking after a bye week. While that seems normal, it has not always been the case. Oh yeah, did I mention that Clemson beat Georgia and is still ranked below Oregon? That would definitely not have been the case in years past. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has been in the Heisman Trophy driver’s seat for the last few weeks and continues to stay there despite a bye week and an “average” performance against Cal.
All of these reasons are why the nation should be afraid of Oregon. As a team, they are just getting better players and continuing the winning trend. Now they have a coach who is in it for the long haul, and FINALLY the national recognition to go along with it. The future is exciting! Go Ducks!