The Oregon Ducks seem to be in turmoil right now after former head coach Chip Kelly gave the entire football world emotional whiplash with his indecisiveness about leaving the college ranks to coach in the NFL. When he finally opted to take the opportunity to coach the Philadelphia Eagles, everyone chalked Oregon up as just an above-average team with a good offense going forward. However, the Ducks may not have Kelly anymore, but they have his system and a new head coach in Mark Helfrich who knows how to use it.
Helfrich was Kelly’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during his entire tenure at Oregon, so the Ducks’ new coach knows the system well and has plenty of returning starters (eight) who can implement it effectively without much coaching.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the best at his position to come through the Ducks’ system during the Kelly era, so he should be able to continue executing his departed coach’s scheme under Helfrich pretty seamlessly. In addition, Oregon doesn’t really have anything to worry about at running back with Heisman Trophy candidate De’Anthony Thomas returning as well. Thomas’ durability and endurance will be tested now that Kenjon Barner is gone, but he should be fine with Mariota leading the offense.
It’s really the Ducks’ defense that will make or break their 2013 season, which will undoubtedly see them ranked in the top 10 from the beginning despite Kelly’s departure. Oregon returns seven defensive starters to a unit that ranked among the top 30 in the nation in points allowed. Add in the fact the Ducks’ offense literally puts up 50 points per game and the only contests on their 2013 schedule that should even remotely worry the fan base are UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State.