After the No. 9 Oregon Ducks (1-0) defeated the Stanford Cardinal 35-14 this past weekend in their season opener at Autzen Stadium, I kept thinking one thing: The Ducks’ future is so bright, I gotta wear shades.
One of my biggest takeaways from Oregon’s much-anticipated debut was the youth of this team. According to the University of Oregon, the Ducks’ 110-man roster consists of 81 underclassmen (freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores), making up approximately 74% of the team — the highest percentage in the FBS. Oregon is the youngest team in America!
In 2019, Oregon’s recruiting class was the strongest group in program history, ranked No. 7 by both ESPN and Rivals and featuring five-star recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux and four-star standouts Mykael Wright, Mase Funa and Mycah Pittman — just to name a few.
And this year’s class was ranked No. 9 (Rivals) and includes two five-star linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell. Most importantly, all of these players I mentioned were on the field against the Cardinal, making plays and helping the Ducks secure a critical win to start this short but exciting Pac-12 football season.
How youthful is Pac-12 football?
Eight teams rank in the Top 30 nationally in % of eligible underclassmen on their rosters
1. Oregon, 73.6%
4. Stanford, 71.6%
6. UCLA, 71.4%
9. ASU, 68.1%
11. Utah, 66.7%
12. Colorado, 66.0%
26. Arizona, 61.6%
30. USC, 60.5%
— SportsPac12 (@SportsPac12) November 12, 2020
First of all, the conference is well represented on that list and Washington ain’t on it! According to the Athletic Department, Oregon is one of three Power 5 programs to land the top recruiting class in its conference each of the last two years, while the Ducks’ 2019 class was the program’s first-ever to be the highest-ranked in the Pac-12.
And for 2021? Rivals has the Ducks’ verballed class at No. 3.
Did we see some questionable offensive plays in Tyler Shough‘s first career start for the Ducks? Yes, including an interception and a couple of scary near misses. In the passing game, did we see some flashes of brilliance from the sophomore signal caller? Absolutely. Shough completed 17 of 26 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, with a handful of long completions to Pittman, Johnny Johnson III and DJ Johnson, a redshirt junior tight end who finished with five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown after switching from defensive end in the spring! Did we expect Shough to rush for 85 yards against Stanford’s defense? Not really, but I’m glad he did.
Embrace it; Oregon is the youngest team in Division 1! So the best team in the Pac-12 is also the youngest? When has that ever happened?
Now you tell me Ducks fans. Is Oregon too young to compete for a conference title and the College Football Playoff? Or is it time for Ducks fans to don a new pair of shades?
How bright is the future of Oregon football?
San Diego, California
Top Photo by: UO Athletics
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