Spring Football Q+A with SBNation site Addicted To Quack about Oregon

GLENDALE AZ - JANUARY 10: Oregon Ducks fans sit in the stands after the Ducks were defeated 22-19 by the Auburn Tigers in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10 2011 in Glendale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

They went for All The Tostitos.  And got none!  But had fun in the process.  Today, we are talking with our friends from up north, those lovable booers of the concussed, Addicted To Quack.

Oregon was once known for being a Cal knock off, doing just well enough to crush the hopes and dreams of their fans. However, in recent years, thanks to the largess of Uncle Phil, they've skyrocketed not just up the charts of AP Top 25, but also the Eugene Police Blotter.  They hope to put some of the bad news behind them in 2011 and continue their elite run for that Mythical National Championship.  

AddictedToQuack has their ear to the ground when it comes to University Of Nike's football squad.  How will those Quazzy Quackers do in 2011?  Join me after the jump to find out more about LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, and Kiko Alonso (whoops, cancel that last one!).  Many thanks to AddictedToQuack for their answers to our hard-hitting questions.  GO BEARS!

1. What were the core questions that you had hoped would be answered by Spring Practice? Were conclusions reached?

1.  A lot of people look and see that we have LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, and Cliff Harris coming back and assume that there are no question marks.  But, while the sexy names come back, this team did lose quite a bit and it left us with a number of holes to fill.  The worrisome spots are the offensive and defensive lines, where Oregon lost three starters each; the receiving corps, where both Jeff Maehl and DJ Davis are gone, and a big hole where Casey Matthews used to be at middle linebacker.  Coming out of spring, results are mixed.
 
Defensive line looks to be in great shape, and perhaps even better than last season.  Terrell Turner, the only returning starter, missed most of spring with a leg injury, but virtually all of the players Oregon was counting on stepped up wtih big springs.  Three hundred pound sophomores Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi both blew up the spring game.  Dion Jordan, the converted tight end, looks ready to build on his excellent sophomore season, and Brandon Hanna seems ready to fill in for Kenny Rowe at drop end.  We went from feeling somewhat worried about this group to very confident.
 
However, we're not feeling so hot about the other spots.  Josh Huff missed most of spring with a leg injury, and Lavasier Tuinei did nothing to suggest he is ready to be the #1 receiver.  We're hoping one of our talented freshmen is ready to go this fall, because we didn't see much out of the current crop.  Its hard to get a good judge of the offensive line, but if the season started tomorrow, we'd have a starting center with virtually no experience and a former walk-on at guard going up against LSU.  As for the middle linebacker spot, we though we had that solved as Kiko Alonso had a monster spring, then promptly got arrested for passing out in the wrong house just hours after he blew up the spring game. As Alonso missed all of last season after being suspended for DUI, none of us expect him to be around next year, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of our linebacking corps.

 

2. Any major style changes coming our way in the fall? New offense or defense installed?

2.  Nothing other than regular Chip Kelly tinkering.  One thing to keep an eye on, though, is that Oregon ran a number of plays from under center in the spring game, and we could see somewhat more of that next season, though we still expect it to be rare.

 

3. What players emerged on offense? On defense?

3.  I'm not sure we got a lot of questions answered on offense this spring.  Running back Lache Seastrunk looked really good early in the spring, but fell off dramatically and was surpassed on the depth chart by walk-on Ayele Forde, who had an excellent spring in his own right, by the end.  On defense, I've already mentioned the names:  Heimuli, Keliikipi, Jordan.  Again, we had thought Alonso before his arrest.

 

4. What are your biggest worries coming out of spring ball for the fall?

4.  See question #1, offensive line, wide receiver, middle linebacker.

5. Project your season. Contender? Pretender? Middle of the pack?

 

5.  We should again be the favorite to win the conference. While we have concerns that we have mentioned, we have a lot of talented players who will be good with experience.  Our panic comes from opening against LSU, which isn't exactly a soft landing pad.  If I had to pick a result for the season, I'd say 11-2, which should be enough to get us to Pasadena.
 

 

6. Going for All the Tostitos again? What happened last year and how can Oregon improve on last year's performance?

6.  Oh, sure.  Its certainly possible.  But so much has to go right for a team to make the national championship game.  You have to avoid major injuries.  You have to pull out a win when you're not playing very well (the UO/Cal game last year).  You have to be both good AND lucky.  We'll know the answer to this early on, as we open in that LSU game.  If we win, we're certinaly in the hunt early.  But I wouldn't bet my house on it.

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