September 1 is fast approaching and with it comes the most highly-anticipated Duck football season in recent history - at least since last year.
Chip Kelly enters his fourth season as head coach where he looks to extend his conference dominance and reach a stunning fourth consecutive BCS bowl.
It was a stressful off-season for Oregon fans when rumors surfaced that their beloved coach would be taking his talents to South Beach, but Kelly stated that he had “unfinished business” in Eugene and would remain with his Ducks.
It's hard to imagine he feels this way after the magnitude of success he has experienced in his short tenure.
It is possible he's referring to the hours he has yet to spend in his new personal hot tub recently installed in his office.
The Ducks have built a winning tradition in the past few years and if that is to continue new talent will need to emerge.
While the departure of LaMichael James to the NFL is a blow to Oregon’s backfield, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas are ready to pick up the slack without hesitation.
Darren Thomas’ decision to leave came as a shock to most and set up a tense quarterback battle that has yet to be resolved. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota and sophomore Bryan Bennett have been putting their skills to the test in hopes of leading the Fighting Ducks out of the tunnel against Arkansas State in the season opener with the garnished title of ‘starting quarterback.'
Kelly has yet to make a decision, but is confident in both player’s abilities.
Possibly the biggest shoes to fill are that of tight end David Paulson who not only started every game last season, but averaged 31.3 yards per game with a total of six touchdowns. Colt Lyerla will be stepping into the starting role despite his unexplained absence at the first day of fall camp.
Coaches, players and most of all, fans, have high expectations regarding this season. Anything less than a conference title and at least a Rose Bowl berth would be considered disappointing.
Kelly attributes his motivation for success to be the opportunity to ‘go last’ at Pac-12 media day ensuring a decreased quantity of reporter questions that the earlier coaches face. Whatever the motivation, the Ducks certainly have it and all questions will be answered on the gridiron in less than a month against Arkansas State.
- Justin Burr
- Justin Burr