Today’s 10th installment on our Pac-12 series of spring-camp reviews is Oregon.
Starters returning: 15 (9 offense, 6 defense), plus PK Matt Wogan.
Refresher on 2013: Ducks charged to an 8-0 record and No. 2 ranking behind Alabama. Then QB Marcus Mariota developed a knee problem, and Ducks ran into Stanford on the first Thursday in November and lost 26-20. Later came a resounding 42-16 loss at Arizona, before a 36-35 victory over Oregon State and a blowout win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl for an 11-2 season.
Coaching changes: Longtime defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti retired and coach Mark Helfrich replaced him with another veteran staffer, LBs coach and former Oregon player Don Pellum.
Spring concerns: Adjusting to Pellum’s style, developing a backup to Mariota, creating DL depth and replacing three secondary starters.
Developments: QB Jeff Lockie seemed to have the edge entering spring behind Mariota, but Jake Rodrigues may have nosed ahead. Helfrich’s post-spring comment on the QB backups: “Meh.” . . . that could mean true frosh QB Morgan Mahalak will be quickly in the picture in the fall when he arrives . . . four early enrollees saw a lot of second-action action: JC guard Haniteli Lousi, CB Dominique Harrison, WR Jalen Brown and DT Tui Talia . . . big blow was a knee injury to WR Bralon Addison, whose loss, combined with departure of Eagles draftee Josh Huff (62 catches, 12 TDs in 2013) makes WR a questionmark . . . possible replacements are Devon Allen, a track sprinter/hurdler, and Darren Carrington . . . OL Tyler Johnstone sat out recovering from Alamo Bowl knee injury . . . S Erick Dargan, suspended last two games of ’13, figures to be a key to the back end . . . RS frosh Tyree Robinson played lots of snaps at safety alongside Dargan . . . RB was a battle as Byron Marshall (1,038 yards in 2013) had a great spring and held off fleet Thomas Tyner . . . referring to the highly touted Tyner, Helfrich told reporters: “That kid has learned how to practice. Now he’s one of the first kids out here every day, which was the polar opposite last fall.” . . . asked to name consistent standouts, Helfrich mentioned LB Torrodney Prevot, Mariota, LB Oshay Dunmore, walk-on QB Taylor Alie and G Hamani Stevens . . . hoops point guard Johnathan Loyd tried football as a wideout and KR . . . DT Arik Armstead finally dropped basketball in late January and figures to take a step up . . . Matt Wogan could handle both punting and placekicking.
Spring game: Mariota’s side won 27-7 as he played only a quarter, completing six of seven passes for 100 yards.
Quotable: Helfrich – “I think we had a great give-and-take, as far as who’s had the upper hand (between offense and defense).”
2014 schedule: Ducks have one of the early-season national headliners, hosting Rose Bowl champ Michigan State Sept. 6. There’s an Oct. 11 visit to UCLA and Ducks try to get over the Stanford hurdle at home Nov. 1. They miss Arizona State and USC.