Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Pac-12 Sports
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

» E-mail Kurt Kragthorpe

» E-mail Kyle Goon

» Subscribe (RSS)

Wisconsin's Nick Toon, left, scores a touchdown as Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu defends during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Pac-12 football preview: Oregon hopes to stay in top gear for a full season

With No. 3 Oregon, there is always the assumption that, if you wait long enough, there will come a time when the Ducks’ high-octane offense will stall.

Because that’s what’s happened.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In 2010, it happened during the BCS Championship game, against Auburn, when they scored 19 points.

In 2011, it was Game One, against No. 4 LSU, when they scored just 13 through the first three quarters.

In 2012, Stanford held them to 14.

Last year, it was the Cardinal, again. Oregon was scoreless through three until a hobbling Marcus Mariota led them to 20 points in the fourth quarter.

No team is going to score 50 points every game, but Oregon tends to lose when they don’t. And that’s somewhat hard to explain when you consider the steps forward their defense has taken in recent years. Last year, they allowed just 20.5 points per game — 13th in the nation, despite serving up a healthy portion of possessions to their opponents.

Specific to last season, a knee injury took away Mariota as an elite rusher, and Oregon’s offense became more one-dimensional.

But maybe, over the course of the last few years, there’s something larger at play. Maybe, when you’re used to scoring 50 by halftime, it kind of freaks you out when you don’t.

If that’s the case, Mark Helfrich’s team is experienced enough now to know that they don’t have to score 50 in every game to win.

And with nine starters back on offense, they might score 50 every game, anyhow.

2013 IN REVIEW » 11-2, 7-2 Pac-12

RETURNING STARTERS » 14 total (9 offense, 5 defense)

TOP RETURNING PLAYER » All eyes are on Marcus Mariota and the offense, and rightly so. Mariota is one of the favorites to be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, and if he returns to the pre-knee injury form that had the Ducks averaging 58 points per game in 2014, he’ll have earned it. Oregon’s defense was no slouch last year either, though, and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has seven interceptions and seven forced fumbles over the past two seasons. A strong senior season will dispel any doubts caused by his stature (5-foot-10) and make him another first-day Duck.

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK » Can they shed the "soft" label? With Oregon, somehow, every loss seems to come against a bigger team that wins the battle in the trenches. They still have just one player — Hamani Stevens — above three bills on the offensive line. Whether or not that "soft" storyline is somewhat manufactured, that’s what they’re going to hear if their perfect season unravels against Stanford or a burlier SEC team in the playoff.

SCHEDULE OUTLOOK » Oregon gets an early test, with No. 8 Michigan State visiting Eugene. Then they get a month to rev up (and avenge last year’s embarrassing loss to Arizona) before a four-week stretch that includes No. 7 UCLA, No. 25 Washington, and No. 11 Stanford. The good news for the Ducks: Of their four games against ranked teams, all but UCLA will be played in Autzen.

— Matthew Piper


Twitter: @matthew_piper

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» UA football: My AP Top 25 ballot
» Photos: Arizona 49, Cal 45
» Rich Rod and players discuss their tough win
» UA football: Report card for Cal game

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Oregon Ducks open up Autzen Stadium doors for Fan Fest: Photo gallery
» No. 2 Oregon 38, Washington State 31: Torrodney Prevot on two pass breakups and missed opportunities (video)
» Championship teams find a way, and that's what the Oregon Ducks did on the Palouse; Issues & Answers
» No. 2 Oregon Ducks 38, Washington State Cougars 31: Hroniss Grasu on the offensive line (video)

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State roundup (Sept. 19)
» OSU men's basketball: Tinkle says positive steps being made
» Spencer to become new AD at Evansville
» BeaversSalute program gives tickets to military personnel and veterans

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Local sports digest: Stanford, Cal in water polo showdown
» Stanford coach David Shaw goes digging
» Cal, Stanford Pac-12 men's basketball schedules announced
» Local sports digest: Stanford's Maverick McNealy ties for medalist honors

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Huskies morning links: UW wakes up from first-half nap to rout Georgia State
» Video: UW's Danny Shelton, John Timu after victory over Georgia State
» Nelson, Meyers win Sundodger titles for Huskies
» Huskies don't appear ready for Pac-12 play

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» WSU basketball lands 6-8 wing
» One of these years, it will be corrected
» Day after Oregon links
» Video: Xavier Cooper after Oregon

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.