Recently Bob Wynn of the new Oregon versus LSU blog contacted me for an email interview on the Cowboy Classic. I thought about giving misleading answers, but with Google and Bing and the permanence of the record on the world-wide web, I figured that wouldn't do much good. Here's what I told him:
1. Oregon's offense lost some excellent players from last year's team. Which offensive positions do you see as most critical to fill and which players on the current Duck roster are most likely to step up in those positions?
This is college football. Everybody loses somebody every year. It's the nature of the game. There's no waiver wire and there's no free agency. Players graduate or leave for the NFL, and young players have to step up to take their place. Alabama lost Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy, and some pundits pick them to be number one in the country. Les Miles is replacing a thousand-yard rusher and the Jim Thorpe Award winner, and many experts think the Tigers could challenge for the BCS championship.
It's the same at Oregon. After the national championship game, Chip Kelly told the press, "We’re a forward-thinking operation. We’ll learn from this thing and move forward.” The Ducks lost two standout wide receivers and three veteran offensive linemen, but the emphasis over spring and summer is on young players accepting the challenge of embracing their time in the spotlight.
After Ohio State and then Auburn dominated the Oregon offensive front two seasons in a row in BCS bowl games, the ESPN roundtable and others point to the offensive line as the deepest concern at Oregon. Color analyst and former national champion coach Urban Meyer told the television audience "I'd rather replace a quarterback" than three offensive linemen, including veteran center Jordan Holmes.