When Chip Kelly left Oregon to take a job in the NFL, many analysts and coaches thought there would be a dropoff in wins and success. First-year coach Mark Helfrich is a native Oregonian but has never been a head coach. Many coaches would have put their stamp on Oregon with a new playbook.
But why fix what isn’t broken?
With a gleaming new training complex complete with barber shop and a locker for Nike founder Phil Knight, Oregon is one of the premier programs in the NCAA. Part of that success rides on the arm and poise of Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota who is having a spectacular year passing the ball. Mariota and the Oregon offense put up nearly 60 points in their first three weeks cruising to easy victories.
No one is giving Oregon credit for wins over the Tennessee Volunteers and Nichols but you should remember that the Volunteers were put onto the schedule back in 2005 when they were still a credible program. Oregon has a full slate of Pac-12 games coming up in the next few weeks, which should cement their status and perch atop the Pac-12 standings.
At this point, I doubt there’s anyone that can really stop Oregon. But there are some weak areas teams could take advantage of like Oregon’s 42 percent third-down conversion rate. De’Anthony Thomas and Mariota together form one of the best duos in NCAA history.
It’s a great start to what’s sure to be a Heisman season for Mariota. Oregon may not be bulletproof without Chip Kelly but they’re pretty damn close. With another week to prepare for Cal, Oregon could easily run the table in the Pac-12 and clinch another BCS bowl in the process.