The Oregon Ducks started the 2013 season on Tuesday, this time without Chip Kelly as their head coach.
Oregon looks to have its players take more of a leadership role than they ever have before, and the consensus after the first few practices has been that redshirt sophomore Marcus Mariota has stepped up to be team leader.
Mariota was tabbed more as a quiet guy and not so much a leader last season; but after a successful freshman year, Mariota gained the confidence needed to be the vocal leader of this year’s Ducks team.
It is up to players like Mariota and junior athlete De’Anthony Thomas to be the voices of the offense; reassuring the rest of the team that this is the same, if not a better, Ducks football team that finished last season ranked No. 2 in the nation.
After their first practice, Mariota told a large group of reporters, “At first, a lot of the guys were talking about it. It’s a little different. But by the end of practice, it was good. Kind of the same. Once we got rolling, it was the same old game of football.”
This is exactly what Oregon needs in its transition from one head coach to another — the voices of the players outweighing the skepticism of the critics.
The ideology remains the same amongst the Ducks; only worry about what you can control, the rest will take care of itself. This mirrors the “Win The Day” philosophy that Kelly preached while he was head coach.
In other good news, Thomas told reporters that he feels that he is “stronger and faster” than he was last year.
Stronger and faster: How is that even possible?
Thomas is nationally known for his football speed, most notably running the opening kickoff in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 94 yards in less than 11 seconds. Thomas is currently running for the Oregon Ducks track team, where he ran a 10.31 second 100-meter dash in mid-March. In translation, that would be an approximate 4.34 40-yard dash time.
Speed is not going to be an issue for the Ducks and neither is the transition of the coaching staff. I envision Oregon leading the Pac-12 in all offensive categories and poised to make a push at landing another BSC National Championship