I wonder about the best Oregon football team ever, as we have three great teams as candidates. Everyone would assume that the 2014 team with so many stars highlighted by Heisman winner, Marcus Mariota, would be the natural selection, but I keep looking at that 2001 team as one that was loaded with Oregon stars and future NFL players.
That season had one blemish on it (Stanford at home) as did the 2014 campaign (Arizona at home) yet the names on offense alone were stunning with Joey Harrington, Mo Morris, Samie Parker (celebrating his long touchdown catch in the Fiesta Bowl in the top photo) Josh Line (current Sheldon Coach) Onterrio Smith, Keenan Howry, Jason Willis, Justin Peelle and George Wrighster. Whew! Looking at the talent the Ducks had at WR, RB and TE that year makes me realize how far the current team has to go in recruiting…
On defense in 2001 you had Zach Freiter, Wesley Mallard, Kevin Mitchell, Rashad Bauman, Steve Smith and Keith Lewis. Holy Crap …there was a reason this team was so good!
Recall how our opponent in that game, Colorado, destroyed Nebraska and how (according to the pundits) they were going to run circles around the Ducks in the Fiesta Bowl? It may have been Nick Aliotti‘s greatest coaching triumph with the defense he put together to slow the Buffalos’ down.
That 2001 team had everything you want in a championship team in elite talent at the key positions on offense, and tremendous linebacking and pass-rushers on defense. Mallard may have been the fastest linebacker ever in the history of Oregon football, and Rashad Bauman is one of my all-time favorite defensive backs. What a team!
To see more about the 2001 team, check out the History of Oregon Football section in the Oregon Football Repository and in particular this page that has many articles about that magical 2001 team and their exploits. There are so many other articles in this section, and they join the over 1,000 articles and videos that comprise of the Oregon Football Repository.
I haven’t even begun detailing the 2010 team, (Oh LaMichael!) but you get the idea. These were all very talented teams that had superb coaching taking place.
A great case could be made for the 2014 team being the greatest “what-if” team in terms of what might have happened if the cheap-shot tackle by Joey Bosa had not happened to Mariota, or if both Devon Allen and Darren Carrington had been able to play in the ‘Natty. They were big reasons the Ducks were in the National Championship game and beat Florida State in the playoffs, hence their absence cannot be underestimated.
In fact if you look at all the skill players on that team–it is stunning to ponder, as one player who came through in big situations was Byron Marshall, who developed superb receiving skills and churned incredible YAC (yards after catch) with his elusiveness that came from originally being a 1,000 yard rusher at running back the year before.
Of course the biggest liability that game was exposed on defense as we had to play a red-shirt freshman at linebacker due to injury whose mistakes in filling the wrong gaps set up Zach Elliott of the Buckeyes to have a monster rushing game versus the Ducks. Oh the “what-ifs!”
Check out more in the Toolbar at the top of the site and do give me your thoughts about which team was the best and why. It is certainly debatable!
“Oh how we love to ponder about our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo from Video
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