The Oregon Ducks may have lost head coach Chip Kelly and star running back Kenjon Barner to the NFL but they aren’t expected to lose a beat according to the lines. The Ducks open up at -59 against Nicholls on Saturday.
There are many reason why the Ducks number should very well be higher than that. For starters, the Ducks return 7 players on their dynamic offense, which averaged 49.6 points per game last season, and 8 defensive starters. The three departing defensive starters are all currently on NFL rosters.
QB Marcus Mariota does return to this squad after putting up monstrous numbers last season. His over 4,300 total yards and 38 touchdowns can only increase in his second year at QB. They also return ATH De’Anthony Thomas, a.k.a The Black Mamba, who had over 1,300 yards from scrimmage last season and 16 touchdowns.
On the other end of the match-up Nicholls had two FBS games last season; allowing 66 points against Tulsa and 77 points against Oregon State. Nicholls also lost their starter, Landry Klann, to injury during summer camp.
New Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich doesn’t seem to be taking them lightly though:
“We’re full speed on Nicholls. Our scout team is out there simulating their offense and defensive stuff that you can predict. You can look at previous film to know what their coaches have done in the past. I am sure they have tweaked and adjusted just as we have this summer, so there will be some newness.”
“In the first game, there is always the question of ‘what if, what if?’ That will start Friday at about 10 p.m. and I will be thinking about it overnight.”
The nerves will surely be there for a first time head coach that’s been handed the keys to a program with national title aspirations but Helfrich seems to be comfortable meeting those expectations.