5 Reasons Why Oregon Ducks Should Be No. 1
5 Reasons Oregon Ducks Should Be No. 1
The Oregon Ducks have been the Alabama Crimson Tide's sidekick for quite some time now. Last season, the top of the polls were dominated by (who else?) Alabama and Oregon, and until the Ducks’ late-season loss to the Stanford Cardinal, it looked as if the two would meet in the national championship.
This season has been much of the same as the polls opened with the defending national champs as no. 1, and the Ducks as no. 2 once again. After four games however, I can confidently say the Ducks should overtake the Tide and be the no. 1 team in the country. Both teams stand at 4-0 so far, but the Ducks have done so easily, while the Tide have shown some struggles.
Alabama’s signature win this so far this year was over the Texas A&M Aggies, and it was a shootout that was narrowly won by the Tide. The Aggies and quarterback Johnny Manziel showcased an uptempo offense against the Tide, something that resembled what the Ducks do (but obviously not as well).
Oregon has plenty of experience on both sides of the ball as does Alabama, and hopefully these two teams do meet in the last game of the season this year so we can definitively settle the debate, but as of right now, here are five reasons I think the Ducks should be no.1.
5 Marcus Mariota Is Best Dual-Threat QB In Country
Marcus Mariota is the redshirt sophomore signal-caller for the Ducks whom many already consider a first-round talent. Mariota is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and his versatility has allowed him to throw for just over 1,000 yards and run for another 295 through just four games. Alabama’s A.J. McCarron is no slouch, but he is a pure pocket passer, whereas Mariota can impact the game in a multitude of ways, making him just one of Oregon's numerous offensive weapons.
4. De'Anthony Thomas And The Run Game Are Unstoppable
De’Anthony Thomas is arguably the best running back in the nation, and undoubtedly the most electric offensive weapon. Thomas plays all over the offense as he can line up at wide receiver, where he can catch or run the ball, or he can line up at his native halfback spot where he can either run or catch the ball as well. Thomas is one of the hardest players in the country to game plan against as he scores touchdowns at an amazing rate and turns broken plays into highlight-reel runs. Thomas is currently battling an ankle injury and will miss the team’s next game, but his role will be given to the very capable Byron Marshall, who already has 48 carries for 326 yards this season.
3. Alabama's Early Offensive Struggles
Yes, Alabama is 4-0 and scored 49 points against the Aggies, but the following week against Colorado State, the Tide were unable to pull away until the fourth quarter. There was some clear frustration early in the game from Tide QB A.J. McCarron, and the bottom line is that the Alabama offense doesn’t look as solid as it has in the past. McCarron has been unable to incorporate stud wide receiver Amari Cooper into the passing game this year, and the running game is producing an average of just 4.8 yards per carry.
2. Oregon's Early Offensive Dominance
When Chip Kelly moved on from Oregon to the NFL, many questioned how the Ducks’ offense would respond this season with Mark Helfrich as the new head coach. Well, we have our answer -- the Ducks are averaging nearly 60 points per contest, which is second in the country, and their run game has continued to dominate as they are picking up an average of 332 yards on the ground per game. Mariota has seen his completion percentage drop this season from the 68 percent he finished with last season, but if he can start completing more passes, this offense could get even better, which is quite a scary thought. The Ducks still move the ball fast on offense and they have yet to find a team that can come close to stopping them as they have won all of their games by 39 points or more.
1. Their Defense Is Top Notch As Well
The Ducks’ defensive unit is giving up an average of just 10 points per game, which is fourth in the nation. Although they have yet to face a truly elite offense, they did hold a usually competent Tennessee Volunteers offense to 14 points and just 316 total yards. The defense for the Ducks is led by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who is one of the premier cornerback prospects in the country and a potential late first-round draft pick. While Ekpre-Olomus is responsible for covering the opposing team's best receiver, it is the job of junior defensive end Tony Washington to cause havoc in the backfield. So far this season, Washington has recorded three sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss, and could be on his way to becoming the next great defensive player to emerge for the Oregon Ducks.