I am not so sure about the conventional wisdom surrounding our beloved Ducks as to when they will fly back into the national consciousness again. The process of working on my season prediction (next week’s editorial) made me pause about not just the year that Oregon re-emerges, but why. For me, this Oregon Football roller-coaster of expectations just ruffled my green feathers again. I invite you to ponder it with me …
Everybody talks about how good we’re going to be in the future, and many think that 2019 and 2020 are going to be big years for Oregon football. But is it possible that this year, 2018, might be the better year than 2019? I recognize that with the base of talent being brought in … 2020, 2021 and beyond look to be exciting times in Oregon football, but which upcoming year is better to lay my hopes and dreams on … 2018 or 2019?
The Case for 2018 is Strong …
2018 could be the Ducks’ year for five reasons: Justin Herbert, Troy Dye, Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins and Ugochukwu Amadi (See top photo, where Amadi gets a sack on a safety blitz). There is a high probability that these players won’t be back next year. Herbert and Jelks could possibly both be first round draft picks if they have a good season in 2018, and Dye will not be far behind. Besides, what more can Troy show the NFL than what he has already done?
Amadi is a senior who is poised for a great year, as is Hollins at 6’5″, 242, who is ready to terrorize the conference with his pass rushing on third down. Think about these players … we know that Herbert’s absence would cost us many wins, but take away all five? Holy Crap!
Let’s be real. We have great talent emerging that could replace these guys in two years, but not next year. Tyler Shough is not going to be anything like Herbert of 2018, nor will other LBs or pass rushers replacing those in the “Big Five.” They can be at that level, but the newbies just don’t fill in; it takes time and experience on the field, as the savvy readership of FishDuck.com knows. Thus, it stands to reason that this is the bigger year, while next year (2019) is “reloading” and building the future of Oregon football. Right?
2019 Could Be Dreamy … “IF“…
I’ve discussed with many of my fellow greybeard “Duck Buddies” who feel that while it is less than 50/50 … there is a chance of Justin Herbert pulling an “Andrew Luck” and returning for his senior season to finish college and to throw a touchdown pass to his brother (Wouldn’t that be so cool?). One writer on the site felt that there was even a chance of Troy Dye returning to play with his brother, as well, and to enjoy the college experience of winning more games.
“Now, granted, that does suggest that 2019 will be the better year, but just how plausible is that scenario?”
There are other major factors to consider: The offensive line, the running backs, receivers, and the majority of the defensive backs and linemen will return much better in 2019, and could kick butt. I cannot even imagine how much better a Mario Cristobal coached offensive line will be in 2019, especially with all the depth being built.
We do have to touch on an uncomfortable reality: We don’t know what the hell the new offense is going to look like in 2018. It will have components of last year’s offense, of the Pistol, of the Oklahoma State spread influence — all of it. In 2019, Oregon will know what will work best, and how to implement it in a superior fashion due to the experience of this year, the big transition year.
Retired Coach Ken Woody (who will be doing analyses again on FishDuck.com this season) and I were contemplating whether or not Coach Cristobal could make his “No-Huddle-with-Power” attack actually work and shake-up the Pac-12. In 2019, we will know whether this new Oregon offense is expanded upon, scrapped or revised. This new offense could be a dud … to be solved in 2019?
The fact is, we can make a strong case both 2018 and 2019, though I am leaning to 2018 being the year. Why? Because although there will be some learning curve for Cristobal in this conference, and some kinks to work out in the new offense … I feel the “big five” simply cannot be replaced immediately. I think this is the year. How about you?
“Oh how we love to ponder about our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo by Scott Kelly