2015 Oregon Ducks Football: A Season of What If’s


There is one game left for the season, but for 2015 the Oregon Ducks rode the emotions of a ‘learn on the job’ Defensive Secondary and Quarterback Injury.

The Oregon Ducks could only watch as both teams they beat during the regular season played for the Pac-12 Title. # 7 Stanford would handily beat # 20 USC 41-22. The Ducks football season is riddled with a lot of what if’s. Oregon finished second in the Pac-12 North one game behind Stanford thanks to winning their last six games of the season. It included an upset win over Stanford 38-36 on the final play with Joe Walker knocking down Kevin Hogan’s pass in the end zone to seal the win for the Ducks. The following week they  beat USC by 20 points in a 48-28 win.

More from Autzen Zoo

The biggest “what if”, is how the season would have turned out had Vernon Adams been healthy all season. In their blowout loss to Utah 62-20, the Ducks used three different quarterbacks. Not to take anything away from the Utes defense, but it looked like Adams injury was more severe then first thought. Adams would be replaced by Jeff Lockie in the second quarter and share time with Taylor Alie behind center. Lockie, the previous week, had made his first career start against Georgia State, an easy win for Oregon no matter who started at quarterback. After the one sided loss to Utah, Adams missed the next two games. Against Colorado, the Ducks relied on their running game with Royce Freeman, 167 yards, two touchdowns, and Taj Griffin, 110 yards, one touchdown leading the way.

Against Washington State the Ducks were upset 45-38 in overtime, fans could start to see the Ducks were a different team when Adams started. Royce Freeman was again the star of the offense carrying 27 times, for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Lockie did okay throwing for two touchdowns, the talent level between the two were apparent to any one watching.

The loss dropped the Oregon Ducks out of the Top 25 and to 3-3 on the season. It wasn’t just the situation who would play at quarterback, it was also that almost every game the Ducks’ secondary was getting shredded through the air. After Adams came back to start at quarterback the Ducks went on a six game winning streak to finish the season.

Nov 7, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks wide receiver Darren Carrington (7) points for a first down in the second quarter against the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon Ducks lost Wide Receiver Darren Carrington for the first half of the season, despite that Carrington finished second on the team in yards (502) and touchdowns ( 5). If the Ducks had a second standout receiver to complement star receiver Bralon Addison, the Ducks could have even had been an even more dangerous team with more weapons at their disposal. In turn that could have taken pressure off of whoever started at quarterback.

Charles Nelson switched to safety, probably one of the best moves that Oregon’s coaching staff made this season. Nelson’s move saw him lead the team in tackles in more then a few games despite his size 5’8, 170, which in turn lead the Ducks secondary coming together in the final stretch of the season. Ty Griffin also made the switch from offense to defense. The secondary was much as a puzzle all season as several times the Ducks coaching staff had to insert different players into positions to see who would gel together.

All in all, the Oregon Ducks had a good season finishing with an (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) and 15th in the nation. Had the Ducks survived the injury bug, suspension, and trying to get a young secondary to gel, things could have been different. With all that said,  Coach Mark Helfrich proved this year that he can coach, and is his own person outside of Chip Kelly.

Next: Alleyne Named To Naismith Watch List

The Ducks get one move stiff challenge in the Valero Alamo Bowl against #11 TCU January 2, at 6:45 ET.