DB Patrick Chung (PHOTO BY: Eric Evans)

2007 Statistics

Coach: Mike Bellotti
106-52, 13 years
2007 Record: 9-4
at Michigan WON 39-7
at Stanford WON 55-31
at Washington WON 55-34
USC WON 24-17
at Arizona LOST 24-34
at UCLA LOST 0-16
South Florida WON 56-21

2007 Final Rankings
AP-23, Coaches-24, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

The nature of Oregon’s football program under Mike Bellotti has an interesting profile. Here since 1995, he is 106-52 and has only one sub-.500 season of his 13 here. This solstice baby (Dec. 21) is 5-6 in bowls (1-0 BCS record) while battling the rival Beavers to a 7-6 mark during his tenure. The teams Bellotti has pieced together are talented and reflect his excellent recruiting strategy. Producing quality student-athletes happens under his eye, no doubt… but any fans know of the trends otherwise that send up red flags, especially when analyzing this upcoming campaign.

All but one (2005) of the past six seasons – since the 11-1 mark of ’01 – have seen at least four losses, and these losses have a pattern: at least three usually happen consecutively, almost each time at the end of the season (four times out of six). In 2006, it was a 7-2 year before the four-game skid to end…last year, Oregon was 8-1 and ranked No.3 when Dixon was hurt and three straight in the L column meant a pre-New Years Day bowl. Coach Bellotti, with all due respect, needs to finish the strong campaigns he starts, or the powers that be may need to realize they will continue to see similar results until Bellotti proves otherwise or something else changes before he gets that chance.

This campaign poses new challenges, as every season does, and the turnover has to be geared so it works for the offense instead of forcing this to be a “rebuilding” year, which it easily could be if the staff isn’t careful. Most of the changes are due to the departures from the offensive backfield. Losing a Heisman-caliber dual-threat QB is tough, and taking his bruising classmate Stewart (also on many Heisman short lists last year, and Rivals graded the Oregon running game as the best in the nation) with him means the Ducks have their work cut out. The quarterback is the key for the season to work, for the RBs are stacked and ready. The right leader to us is Nate Costa, but without his presence this spring (knee), it is tough to say the guy who led them to their big Sun Bowl win, Justin Roper, isn’t a worthy candidate, too. Costa takes them farther in a full 12-game grind, but will his running dimension remain strong? If it’s Roper to start with – on a short leash – he would give way to Costa if things went sour. The starting OL is good, but any troubles holding that five together would guarantee this to be a year when merely making a bowl game is a worthy aim.

Nick Reed, Pat Chung and Johnny Bacon are the senior leaders of their respective defensive units, and they all have an eye on what slipped through their grasp in ’07 (after the D held USC to 17 points for their first win over the conference champs in six years). The Duck defense can be a superior group with so many returning starters, so maybe ’08 will feature lots of low scoring affairs. That’s not a bad way to differentiate yourself in a conference where offense usually trumps defense, so having a top 10 D seems to be the only way Oregon makes a BCS run.

The schedule is a gauntlet. Washington, with Jake Locker, becomes an unpredictable game, as are most openers while everyone is still adjusting…the fun starts early this year. Phew, Utah State allows an easier foe before journeying to Indiana for a toughie with perennial power Purdue, and then pesky Boise State comes ‘a callin’…and September isn’t even over yet! Trips to ranked Pac Ten foes include Southern Cal and Arizona State, not to mention trips to Berkeley and Corvallis. No matter where it ranks in SOS lists, this is one seriously daunting docket for a 10-win season to come from, even if Oregon had a more established offense. If they can hold up and only lose two or three, the SOS will help them in pollsters’ eyes. Bottom line – UO earns anything they get in 2008.

Expect a season of mixed results, meaning the Ducks can’t waddle by some lesser teams as they simultaneously still beat a few of the big boys to give hope to the changes for 2009. This defense should be good enough to keep most games close enough to win. Getting some momentum going and avoiding a late-season (or any three-game) slide would work well to secure Bellotti’s neck and buoy hopes for next season, an acceptable approach with the three sophomore QBs vying to give the Ducks their next offensive profile. Bellotti has done more with less, so don’t count them out even if they get a few early conference losses. Heeyyyy, Eugene!!!!

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
QB - 3 DL - 4
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Justin Roper, 32-61-2, 342 yds., 6 TD

Rushing: Andre Crenshaw, 82 att., 415 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Jaison Williams, 55 rec., 844 yds., 8 TD

Scoring: Matt Evensen, 16-20 FG, 52-52 PAT, 1 two-pt. conv., 102 pts.

Punting: Josh Syria, 71 punts, 41.7 avg.

Kicking: Matt Evensen, 16-20 FG, 52-52 PAT, 100 pts.

Tackles: Patrick Chung, 117 tot., 71 solo

Sacks: Nick Reed, 12 sacks

Interceptions: Jairus Byrd, 7 for 31 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Patrick Chung, 9 ret., 22.3 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Jairus Byrd, 7 ret., 9.0 avg., 0 TD


WR Jaison Williams (PHOTO: Eric Evans)
OFFENSE: Dennis Dixon-QB, Brady Leaf-QB, Garren Strong-WR, Cameron Colvin-WR, Brian Paysinger-WR, Josh Tschirgi-OG, Pat So'oalo-OG, Geoff Schwartz-OT, Jonathan Stewart-TB (NFL)
DEFENSE: David Faaeteete-DT, Jeremy Gibbs-DT, Kwame Agyeman-WLB, A.J. Tuitele-WLB, Matthew Harper-FS

There are going to be major differences in how polished the offense looks to start 2008 compared to how efficient it was when at its peak in ’07. Most of the team’s true leaders – Stewart, Dixon and Schwartz – give way to younger replacements, making this a “changing of the guard” in Eugene that will give the offense a totally new personality. We all got a glimpse of what can be at QB when Justin Roper took over in the Sun Bowl and promptly took the Ducks to a 56-21 win. This 6’6 Buford (GA) recruit lifted the sagging offense with sound play, a good sign for someone who doesn’t have much experience. Roper looks to be a solid starter, but he has to see how things play out with classmate Nate Costa. Costa blew his knee out badly in an October ’07 practice, but was ahead of Roper on the depth chart when it happened. Costa is a dual-threat, so he obviously brings a dimension to the QB role with which coach Bellotti can open up the playbook more, ala Dixon. Reports from insiders legitimize each of these two QB’s claim to being the Duck field general, so only time will tell how it plays out. The starter won’t be Cody Kempt, who stunk the joint up when they lost in Los Angeles after Dixon had gone down. Spring didn’t elicit much clarity on the issue; but one thing was clear, that progress - across the board - wasn’t coming along as anticipated. “I don’t like the execution of the offense,” Bellotti said halfway through spring. “I think there is a lot to be desired, but when you go from a fifth-year guy at quarterback to a second-year guy (at QB), there’s obviously some growing pains. I think when you go from a third-year starter at tailback, two of them in a sense, to second-year guys the same things happen. So, there’s a lot to be worked out.”

We think the depth chart at RB will work itself out for guaranteed results by fall. One thing hindering notions of progress is the delayed return of Jeremiah Johnson. The co-No.1 with Stewart until he hurt his knee, Johnson wasn’t in the full-contact mix during spring. Andre Crenshaw is a smaller back than Johnson, but he did a nice job filling in. The need for a banger to replace Stewart looks to have two guys vying for the spot. Ex-LB Malachi Lewis has strength and sprinter’s speed to go with his experience as H-back/TE in the spread looks, but it’s JUCO-transfer LaGarrette Blount who was seen plowing over guys this spring and impressing everyone in sight.

Ed Dickson is a nice blend of toughness and soft hands, as is academic all-conference Matt Larkin. Dickson will again be a major piece of he offense after finishing second in receptions last year. Not much smaller than these two is the Duck’s leading receiver over the past two years, senior Jaison Williams. This is one leader still present. Aaron Pflugrad emerged during last year’s true freshman campaign, as did Jeff Maehi, who changed sides of the ball in late October and finished seventh on the team in catches. Then there is Jamere Holland – he was the fastest guy on USC before transferring here (won California state 100m & 200m in prep; 10.36 seconds in the 100 is his personal best). He will definitely see game time in his first eligibly season. Derrick Jones could give Holland a run for his mullah as fastest Duck, but his suspension looks like a glass half empty, so to speak, making his presence this fall a longshot. How new recruit Chris Harper fits in will be interesting, because the staff has told the hopeful QB that he is too good to keep off of the field…he seems like a possible “slash” type who will do a little of everything to keep opponents off balance when he’s in.

Contingent on establishing the running game is the survival of the OL, and Max Unger’s health is paramount for the unit to reach it’s potential. Unger has moved inside, but he can play anywhere (like when he started at left tackle his first two years). Another former tackle who has successfully moved inside is Mark Lewis, who started every game there in ’07 with similar success. Holmes and Kaiser have had a healthy competition to fill out the interior, with Kaiser ahead of his classmate by a hair. Fenuki Tupou is surprisingly agile for his size, but he supplants Unger and Lewis so they can plow inside and do the pulling. Hucko also does well in open space when athletic DEs power/speed rush the Duck QB. Hucko started a bit, so he looks good, but then it drops off as one looks down the two-deep. Sure, there are seniors as OL backups, but the reviews of how well the second team did this spring leave coach Bellotti fearful of the injury bug. Hamani Stevens is the No.2 center in this year's national class (Rivals), so maybe he can shake things up in a good way up front.

Don’t hold your breath that Oregon will remain the top offense in the league. The talent levels are high, making developments an eventuality that will then elicit wins, just not in as commanding a fashion as when Dixon was under center.


C Max Unger (PHOTO BY: Eric Evans)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Nathan Costa-So (6-1, 220) Justin Roper-So (6-6, 205)
TB Jeremiah Johnson-Sr (5-10, 205) Andre Crenshaw-Jr (5-11, 195)
LeGarrette Blount-Jr (6-2, 229)
WR Jamere Holland-So (6-1, 190) Drew Davis-So (6-1, 202)
Derrick Jones-Sr (6-1, 180) (susp.)
WR Jaison Williams-Sr (6-5, 240) Terence Scott-Sr (5-11, 170)
WR Jeff Maehl-So (6-1, 178) Aaron Pflugrad-So (5-10, 172)
TE Ed Dickson-Jr (6-5, 240) Malachi Lewis-So (6-3, 215)
OT Fenuki Tupou-Sr (6-6, 322) Darrion Weems-Fr (6-5, 300)
OG Jordan Holmes-So (6-4, 295) Charlie Carmichael-Fr (6-4, 296)
C Max Unger-Sr (6-5, 300) Jeff Kendall-Sr (6-3, 297)
OG Mark Lewis-Sr (6-4, 308) Jon Teague-Sr (6-2, 301)
OT Jacob Hucko-Sr (6-7, 317) C.E. Kaiser-So (6-4, 290)
K Matt Evensen-Sr (6-1, 194) Daniel Padilla-So (6-2, 210)



Only three starters are left from a defense that did a better job in ’07 than it did in ’06. That makes more improvements for this campaign probable, if not guaranteed. The key last year was playing smart – 60 more yards allowed per game from the prior year meant an average of three less points allowed each week. The offense scoring eight points more each week helped it all equal more wins, but without the same lethal point production from their offense, those same marginal differences will be the pivot between another banner year and one where the Ducks finish around .500, like in ’06.

Nick Reed had the fourth-most tackles-for-loss in the nation (22.5) and he tied for the ninth-most sacks (12); this kind of superior stopping will continue since Salt Lake- (and JUCO-) product Will Tukuafu also returns to make it impossible to stop both he and Reed. Cole Linehan is decent inside, but he has yet to make many big, impacting plays. On the other hand, Ra’Shon Harris has impressed with his lagniappe, and as the only guy over 300lbs on the DL two-deep, his presence is imperative for run stuffing success. What the Ducks do get with their athletic approach to the DL is interchangeable hats that can realign, stunt and ultimately confuse their OL counterparts.

Kenny Rowe will be moving back to LB to add to the confusion, likely being found much of the time in a two-point stance on the line. Rowe's '07 stat line - eight tackles, six TFLs and five of those were sacks - speaks of what was seen all this spring, that no one can effectively block him. Senior Johnny Bacon will probably keep his starting assignment after knee troubles took him out (vs. Arizona State), but his replacement, Casey Matthews, has a keen nose for the ball, making him a 1A at MIKE or a shoe-in for any other needs. The other returning starter is senior Jerome Boyd - his SAM slot will not be considered a DB spot anymore, like it has been of late. Coincidentally, Boyd was originally a safety who has built himself up naturally, so he fits into the hybrid prototype of this D to a ‘T’. He and Bacon sat out spring drills, but each is expected back. Kevin Garrett seems like the logical choice at WILL, but he is another bulked up safety, making Oregon a bit small at LB. Hanna and Turner, two RS froshes who have size (with Hanna supposedly the sharper player), fill out a deep LB corps that will be the guts of the defense.

Six-footers Thurmond and Byrd had 12 INTs together, forming the top pair of corners in the league (and one of the tops in the nation). Both are back, as are backups Glasper and Jackson to complete the two-deep with same faces. Still, the best news has to be AP All-American Pat Chung coming back after nearly declaring for the NFL draft. Chung, from Kingston, Jamaica, was a huge factor for why the pass defense gave up 76 more yards per game from the previous year but still kept (foes to) the same efficiency rating. He'll be the foundation in back, while Titus Jackson and Marvin Johnson appear set to battle over the open free safety slot. But the name we keep hearing from coach Bellotti is Todd Doxey. All of this works well for the secondary, and especially well so the entire defense can repeat as tops in the nation for tackles-for-loss. But, like many facts pertaining to the D, it's a dual-edged sword, because if the Ducks had so many TFLs yet still allowed 5.1 yards per play, doesn't that say they gave up alot of big plays? Consistency is evidently an issue, though, the defense did rule its offensive counterparts throughout spring. Knowing how the offense is struggling for identity, the D (and we) won't know if this is to become the superior group they have the potential to be until fall.


DE Nick Reed (PHOTO BY: Eric Evans)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Will Tukuafu-Jr (6-4, 279) Terrell Turner-Fr (6-3, 245)
John Laidet-Fr (6-5, 225)
DT Ra'Shon Harris-Sr (6-5, 321) Justin Thompson-Jr (6-5, 280)
DT Cole Linehan-Sr (6-4, 295) Tonio Celotto-So (6-3, 268)
DE Nick Reed-Sr (6-2, 255) Brandon Bair-So (6-7, 250)
SLB Jerome Boyd-Sr (6-2, 220) Eddie Pleasant-Fr (5-11, 225)
MLB John Bacon-Sr (6-3, 230) Casey Matthews-So (6-2, 220)
WLB Terrance Pritchett-Fr (6-2, 208) Spencer Paysinger-So (6-3, 222)
Kevin Garrett-Jr (5-11, 215) (susp.)
CB Jairus Byrd-Jr (6-0, 208) Willie Glasper-Jr (5-11, 184)
CB Walter Thurmond-Jr (6-0, 185) Talmadge Jackson-So (5-10, 182)
ROV Patrick Chung-Sr (6-0, 210) Marvin Johnson-So (5-10, 205)
FS T.J. Ward-Jr (5-11, 191) Javes Lewis-Fr (6-1, 185)
P Josh Syria-Sr (6-3, 232) ..


Punter Josh Syria does the trick, getting distance and control to come into play for his efforts. This means a net result equivocal to his rankings. Kicker Matt Evensen is a beast on return men with his track background allowing him to catch/tackle most. Teammate Dan Padilla and he combined to go 19-for-24 in FGAs, so this area runs deep for UO. Pflugrad on PRs should work, and Crenshaw and Chung on kicks offers speed galore.