Oregon Football: Upcoming 2013 Ducks Season Shows Promise for Pac-12 Powerhouse

Bryan Kalbrosky@@BryanKalbroskyCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks on from the bench during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Mark Helfrich and the University of Oregon Ducks are poised for yet another victorious season atop the Pac-12 conference.

Since Chip Kelly’s departure from the Oregon Ducks football team, fans around the world are left to speculate about the success and future of the University of Oregon football program. But under the leadership of new head coach Mark Helfrich, the Oregon Ducks look to return to a BCS Bowl for the fifth straight year, and first since Kelly’s departure to the NFL.

“(Chip Kelly) and I are different guys, but the thing that makes this place special is the players and the people,” said Helfrich. “Our staff is outstanding, these guys could be anywhere in the country almost and they chose to be here with us and with these players and I think that speaks volumes to what we are about.” 

With such an impressive staff and personnel in place in Eugene, it would be difficult to see the Oregon Ducks falling anywhere but near the top.

In recent years, the Oregon Ducks have transformed into one of the most compelling teams in the landscape of sports. Without fail, Oregon fans should expect this tradition to continue into the 2013 season. The evolution of the Oregon Ducks has reached a pinnacle so high that famed NBA coach George Karl has stated that even he has borrowed similar principles of speed and tenacity from the notable offense and has since applied it to coaching his professional basketball team.

“He spoke about the pressure it puts on defenses and how they've stolen some of that for their offense,” said Bob Rickert of The Oregonian. “Anyone else think … this offense isn't transcendent?”


While words such as “innovative” and “transcendent” are not often associated with college football teams from cities as small as Eugene, Oregon, the Ducks' football program continues to snag headlines in just about every medium.

For instance, last month Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner made it to the “Final Four” in a fan vote to be featured on the cover of the upcoming EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The schools of his opponents: Michigan, Texas A&M and Alabama. Once again, the campus tucked away in the rainy Pacific Northwestern region of the country has made strides towards becoming “America’s Team” to even be listed among these historic football institutions.

Barner may be on his way to the upcoming NFL Draft, but very few believe that the rushing production will suffer with rising junior De’Anthony Thomas waiting in the wings of success.

As a relevant team in the framework of 21st-century college football, it has become increasingly more difficult to ignore the University of Oregon as a staple for breeding NFL talent and exposure. Just ask LaMichael James, Ed Dickson, Dennis Dixon and Haloti Ngata where they received their start before playing in the 2013 NFL Super Bowl.

“I don't think anything can stop [Kelly's] offense – NFL, college or high school, no matter what it is,” said LaMichael James. “I think he can be one of the best coaches in the NFL.”

With the help of Oregon Ducks' alumnus and Nike founder Phil Knight, the Oregon Ducks identity continues to sprout wings as a national brand. The efforts from Knight, however, cannot be understated.

For instance, the latest contribution to the University of Oregon from the founder of Nike is sure to capture local media attention in the coming months. Scheduled to open next fall for football season, Knight has purchased a $68 million operation center. The 130,000 square foot “Taj Mahal” is sure to help convince recruits that are on the fence about their plans for college football. 

What can $68 million do to help the University of Oregon football team?

According to USA Today, the operations center will come equipped with: two movie theatres, a Duck football museum, temperature controlled lockers with an iPod plugin for speakers and a waterproofed hot tub video center for coaches to watch film.

With such an impressive addition to an already notable athletic program, it was only expected that the Oregon Ducks would be able to convince recruits such as Darren Carrington, Danny Mattingly and Evan Voeller as well as multisport athletes Tyrell and Tyree Robinson that Eugene would be a good home for their collegiate endeavors.

The Oregon Ducks will also work to replace Oregon legend Kenjon Barner with Thomas Tyner, the No. 6 overall running back in the country. Tyner (4.30 second 40-yard dash) is slightly faster than Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas (4.38 second 40-yard dash), and is also three inches taller and between twenty and thirty pounds heavier.

For a team looking for a perfect fit for their offense, the Oregon Ducks need not look much further for a successor to Kenjon Barner. Under the leadership of Helfrich, the Oregon Ducks are poised for another successful season in NCAA college football.

The notion that the Oregon “style of play” would not succeed in the NFL, however, is a legend that has been recently debunked.

Andrew Luck and Robin Griffin III captured the attention of national media analysts while running a spread offense eerily similar to that of the Oregon Ducks. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance with a style of play nearly identical to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.


“Once Kaepernick got in there, we went to a lot of spread stuff so it is a lot of the same stuff I have been doing,” said LaMichael James. “It is pretty much similar. It has been doing a great job helping me out being a young player and doing some stuff I am familiar with.”

Most notably, of course, was the news that former Oregon coach Chip Kelly was entrusted with a $32.5 million contract to lead the Philadelphia Eagles back to redemption, replacing longtime Philadelphia coach Andy Reid.  

Without Kelly, the Oregon Ducks are in a bit of a flux. But few doubters remain when it comes to what Helfrich can do with this program, and how he can maintain their longevity of success.

“I feel like we all really wanted Coach Helfrich,” said Mariota. “Since the moment that we heard {the announcement} last night, the vibe of the team has been unreal. As a player, that makes me really excited. I’m looking forward to getting this whole thing going.” 

With flashy, unpredictable uniforms and a unique style of play, the Oregon Ducks have often been viewed with envy from writers and fans across the national college football scene. The relationship with Nike has been criticized and scrutinized, and the fans have been labeled as “obnoxious” and “spoiled” from media outlets across the country. 

Even other writers at Bleacher Report have recently listed Oregon fans on a list of the “meanest” in college sports. For Oregon fans, however, the attention is a good thing. After all, it helps keep people aware that the University of Oregon has one of the most notable football programs in the entire world.

In the upcoming season, don’t expect a thing to change for the Oregon Ducks except for the lack of a visor on the head of the head coach.


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