This has been an ideal offseason for the Ducks so far. No transfer QBs, no scandals and no coaches chasing “dream jobs.” In a sport that’s full of turnover and turmoil this time of the year, this offseason should be viewed as a big win for Oregon. Moreover, I’m confident the Ducks will be better in 2019. Here are four reasons why:
The Four “Wins” Oregon Already Has
1. Justin Herbert Returns
In today’s game, it’s the norm for athletes to leave college and go to the pros when eligible. That makes Justin Herbert’s decision to return to school both a welcome change and a huge win for the Ducks.
Herbert is the key to the Oregon offense. If he had left, maybe Braxton Burmeister would have ended up staying, but that wouldn’t have saved the Ducks’ 2019 season. I wish the kid luck, but he doesn’t seem to have the arm talent to lead a Division 1 program.
Outside of Burmeister and Herbert, the only other quarterbacks on the roster before Signing Day were Tyler Shough and Bradley Yaffe. And though Shough could be really good, he may not be ready yet. Another season under Herbert will be great for his development.
All in all, having a senior quarterback who grew up in Eugene, wants to bring this city a championship, and wants to go in to Seattle and beat the team up north is a great way to go into next season.
2. Andy Avalos Is Brought on as Defensive Coordinator
Jim Leavitt did well in his brief time with the Ducks. After not getting hired as head coach here or at Kansas St., he was upset for obvious reasons. This was a mutual split that both sides will benefit from, as behind the scenes, Leavitt was starting to ruffle some feathers. Nevertheless, all of us Duck fans wish him the best.
After this hire, most Duck fans had the same response: “Who?” That’s a fair question. Boise State isn’t what they once were. Now, they’re just another decent Group of Five team.
Nevertheless, Andy Avalos is a great hire.
I have a buddy who lives in Boise and is close with some people in the program. He watches a lot of games, which means I catch a few Broncos games a year. (Also, I cheer for Fresno State, so I watch them play Boise State every year, too.) From what I’ve seen, Avalos plays a very aggressive style of defense and really lets his linebackers show what they can do. Remember that kid the Dallas Cowboys “reached for” in the NFL draft? Avalos helped him reach that potential.
As for the Ducks, they have another senior on the defensive side of the ball who decided to return to school: Troy Dye. If you thought he was good already, just wait until he spends an offseason learning from Avalos!
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux Signs With the Ducks
At 6’4”, 240-pounds, this is no kid; this a grown man. Kayvon Thibodeaux — a five-star recruit out of California who was recruited by a bevy of blue-blood programs, including Alabama — chose Oregon.
He should make an instant impact as a true freshman, especially in Avalos’ scheme. He is the highest-ranked recruit in Oregon history. Let’s hope he lives up to the hype. Edge rushers who demand double teams keep offensive coordinators up at night.
Thibs? Kay? We need to think of a shorter name for Thibodeaux. He seems like a great kid. During the spring game, which is really just an event for the fans at this point, he was having genuine fun. When your position’s primary goal is to tackle the one guy you are not allowed to touch in the Spring Game and you still have a good time … imagine how much fun he’ll have when he can actually tackle the QB!
4. Kliff Kingsbury Leaves Pac-12 Territory
What Kliff Kingsbury was able to do on offense at Texas Tech was video-game-level stuff. Add USC’s talent into the mix, and it would have been “game over” for Pac-12 defenses. As offensive coordinator, Kingsbury wouldn’t have had to focus on that other side of the ball, which led to his demise in Lubbock. Him having full control of the Trojans’ offense would have been dangerous.
The Pac-12 is very, very lucky that the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals hired him. Will he be a great head coach there? I don’t know. But I do know that if he were still coaching in college, every mother on the planet would want her son to play for him. The guy’s good looking, charming and an offensive genius. But unless he’s wearing a green-and-yellow polo, I don’t want that guy in the Pac-12.
Playoffs? Hopefully! Maybe not … Honestly, probably not.
This could be the season that Oregon gets back to the exclusive playoff club, but I don’t know if an Arroyo-led offense can do that. But maybe the old saying “defense wins championships” is true, and the Ducks ride theirs to a championship. Enough with the negativity, though!
The cherry on top of all this: we still have the best strength and conditioning coach in the country. September is right around the corner, everyone, and the Ducks are ready!
Wilsonville, Oregon Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
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