2017 Oregon Ducks Season Schedule
9/2 – Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 5:15pm PT
9/9 – Nebraska Cornhuskers – 1:30pm PT
9/16 – at Wyoming Cowboys – 4:00pm PT
9/23 – at Arizona State Sun Devils – TIME TBA
9/30 – California Golden Bears – TIME TBA
10/7 – Washington State Cougars – TIME TBA
10/14 – at Stanford Cardinal – TIME TBA
10/21 – at UCLA Bruins – TIME TBA
10/28 – Utah Utes – TIME TBA
11/4 – at Washington Huskies, – TIME TBA
11/11 – OFF
11/18 – Arizona Wildcats, – TIME TBA
11/25 – Oregon State Beavers – TIME TBA
*12/1 – Pac-12 Championship Game, Santa Clara, CA – TIME TBA
Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, Puddles lovers of all ages, welcome back for another exciting season of Oregon Football. First let me thank you for returning to read my columns, I know it’s me that brings you back week after week & none of these other scrubs. Let’s begin, shall we?
After what can only be described as an abomination of a football season in 2016, the 2017 season begins with things anew in Eugene. Helf & Co. are gone. In are Willie T & Co. When it comes to an outlook on the season, it’s hard not to express at least some slight optimism that the team has grown & learned from last season, that the staff will prepare them better, & that we aren’t doomed to another season in the cellar. Willie T & Co. will be tested with a slate that isn’t all that easy this season. Road games at UW, Stanford & even Wyoming are going to be tricky. Wazzu at Autzen is no cake walk anymore. And if 2016’s porous defense returns, Ryan Nall & OSU will score again…and again…and again. The Ducks remain stacked at RB, & QB Justin Herbert returns for a sophomore season poised to become a breakout QB in a conference full of them. The question is: Can they put it all together or is it still hopelessly broken?
I will preface this that I have no idea how this season will go down. Generally, from January to July I am really pessimistic, thinking that Oregon sucks and we’re going to lose every game. Come August, I have somehow made my expectations way too high. I convince myself that Oregon will go undefeated, with position players winning every award imaginable.
This year is different. Every aspect of this team is questionable. Is this coaching staff equipped to navigate the grind of the deepest conference in the country (suck it, SEC honks)? Do the players actually give a shit this year, or will the first loss turn everyone in Pharaoh Brown clones? Is the offense going to keep clicking like it has since Chip’s arrival, or will the Gulf Coast offense be a spectacular failure (Taggart’s offense was brutal his first 2 years at USF)? Is the defense going to be a dumpster fire like it was last year, or will Leavitt be able to shave off 10ppg? What in the hell will the special teams look like?
I don’t feel confident in my answers to any of those questions, but you can take my prediction to the bank anyways.
I like this staff if I’m looking at a long-term trajectory. This year there will be ups and downs, but I expect Taggart will right the ship midseason. Personnel wise, the team is “awfully young.” It will take Taggart time to get his players in the program and for Helfrich’s leftovers to truly buy-in, which obviously won’t happen this season. I think the players care right now, but I do expect some to quit after a loss or two. The offense is going to be up and down, tearing apart the terrible defenses and struggling against the elite ones. The defense will be similar, but I do expect a moderate improvement. Special teams are probably the area I am most confident in my prediction, and I expect them to be average.
So how do I see this season shaking out? Staying true to the degenerate gambler that I am, I like to hedge. Oregon fans going into the season with moderate expectations will be happy, the ones who think we’re winning 10 games will be disappointed. I think we’ll be 3rd or 4th in the North. Overall it will be something to build on, but nothing spectacular. We’ll win some games we aren’t expecting and probably lose at least one game that is inexcusable. There will be a lot of promising pieces to build on going into 2018 and the hype before next year will be similar to what USC experiences every year.
The post Mariota hangover is officially gone. We needed last season to happen. As brutal as it was we were still trying to figure out post Mariota world by applying band-aids (Dakota) and it wasn’t working. Team was fractured. Now, you can just tell that something is different. New regime, fresh start. We will 100% make a decent bowl game. I think we make the Pac 12 playoff game as well.
I’m cautiously optimistic for the season.
There’s a weird thing in sports and football in particular where when things go bad, they can spiral so far out of control that a team looks and plays much worse than they actually are. The transverse can also be true. When a big change happens that, for the players, feels like the :cough Helf: demons have been exorcised and players start believing in themselves and their teammates again, teams can outperform everybody’s expectations. So with that said, #WeNatty baby!! You want proof? Winged helmets are back! They go with 11 and 12 win seasons like peas and friggin carrots! We all know this, dems the rules. I don’t make the rules.
In all seriousness, I don’t know what to expect. And that’s just fine. But I’m excited as heck about Oregon Football again. Last year left a used baby diaper taste in all of our mouths. I, admittedly, wasn’t excited about the Taggart hire immediately. I had never really heard about him and the only thing I had to go on was his record from WKU and USF, which overall was not super impressive – not realizing the challenges he faced rebuilding those programs. I got caught up on wanting to row a boat somewhere. I didn’t care if there was an iceberg in the path. I just needed a life-preserver for my team. But the more I learned and saw of Taggs, and saw the energy he and the (so far) A+ staff he has brought in, the more I have bought in. And by social media comments you get the idea that the team has bought in. The past players are getting on board. There’s a momentum building that is exciting.
At the end of the day, Oregon will be as good as the defense allows them to be. I think Leavitt and crew coaching on the defensive side of the ball are more than capable to turn the defense around. I’m hoping we see a jump into the 70s or 80s in terms of defensive rank this year. That will be a significant improvement over last year, leaping some 40-50 spots.
If I have to place a number of wins on the team this year, I’m going out on a limb and will say a regular season record of 9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday bowl and we’re all knocking on our friend’s door who lives in Del Mar looking for a crash pad in December (move over, Abby). But I’m not going to be disappointed if the team goes 5-7 either. It’s a rebuilding year and there are some holes to fill in several key positions.
A lot of rushing yards. The seventh ranked defense in the Pac-12.
I have faith that the defense will at some point this season hold an opponent under 20 points. This roster is talented and maybe more importantly motivated. Not just for person gains, but motivated to fight *for* their teammates and the coaching staff. Look, I wouldn’t be shocked if this team won only 4 games or as many as 9 games, but I know the defense won’t be as bad as last season, and the offense might just have a very special year.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m generally positive about the Willie Taggart era at Oregon. He seems to be a terrific recruiter (although a lot can change between now and signing day), and he changed the fortunes of both Western Kentucky and South Florida before arriving in Eugene. But I do not get the general positivity about the 2017 season.
Jim Leavitt will improve the defense — they’ll jump 50 spots in the rankings and still be terrible. Graduate transfer Scott Pagano seemed to be poised to help on the defensive line, but he’s still recovering from foot surgery. The Ducks are starting linebackers who weigh less than 200 pounds, and the secondary is a delightful mix of veterans who weren’t that good last season and dudes who were at prom three months ago.
I suppose the offense will be fine, as long as no one gets hurt. Darren Carrington’s stupidity means Charles Nelson is by far the most experienced returning receiver, but he’s also returning punts and kickoffs, and if that doesn’t terrify you maybe Google Walter Thurmond and Devon Allen. And let’s not even think about what happens if Justin Herbert gets hurt.
Oregon’s bowl game hopes hinge, I think, almost entirely on the five games in September. They’re all eminently winnable, but a 2-3 start is just as likely to me as a 5-0 run. The games in October and early November are going to be brutal (a five game losing streak is definitely in play) so they need a fast start if they want to be playing in December.
The season is over.
Not that anyone with an ounce of honesty in their blood didn’t already know that. When you’re forced to start two LB’ers listed at 195 pounds, and rely on two true freshman on the defensive line, there is no way to objectively be good. Does Scott Pagano fully recover from spring surgery? Does the new fangled JC transfer, Malik Young, adjust to the Pac 12 level after arriving in Eugene 47 seconds ago? Hopefully? Because if so, the Oregon defense could go from a 1989 Eagle Premier, to a 1995 Dodge Neon! Hooray! Still bad, but bad is better than historically bad. That’s it, that’s where the season pivots from bad to “bad team in a bowl” bad. Justin Herbert will be good, Royce Freeman will regain his form from his first two years, and the suddenly experienced offensive line will be talking point next year that annoys people from outside the UO fan bubble. But scoring 45 points a game isn’t as dandy when you allow 50.
Oregon will finish 7-5, because the Arizona schools are abject trash inching towards coaching changes, Cal is Cal, and Oregon State will have quit on the season after a five game losing streak in the middle of the season by the time they come to Autzen. Oh, have I mentioned that Jim Mora Jr and Mike Riley are also on the schedule? 7-5 by default, practically.
FINAL SEASON RECORD PREDICTION
7-6. Oregon sneaks into a bowl game by stealing a couple of toss-up games along the way. It’s not what we’ve come to expect, but it’s better than where we were. #GoDucks.
9-3 and Oregon is in the Holiday Bowl
9-3, with a Holiday Bowl berth
7-5, with losses against NEB, WSU, FURD and UW with a random clunker thrown in… At least that’s how I feel right now. (Update: I am reading this again and I’m dumb cause now I think we are winning 9 games MINIMUM. YEAH YOU HEARD ME.)
5-7. Put me down for a slower-than-hoped-for start, a rough middle, and a 5-and-7 final record.