The Oregon Ducks begin their football season anew with another new senior transfer at quarterback.
Let's just get this out of the way right now: last season was brutal. After the first game, I was fully prepared for the Ducks to return to Earth after an amazing ride in the upper stratosphere of college football excellence for the better part of a decade, but nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster that was Season 2015. It was brutal. When losing 62-20 to Utah at home is not even a consideration for the lowpoint of the season, you really know that something went horribly wrong. With Vernon Adams out of the lineup, the Ducks offense resembled a bunch of confused middle school kids messing around in the park. The defense, pretty much all season long, was a throwback to the horrors of 2002. When Adams went down once again during the Alamo Bowl, TCU came from a bowl record-tying 31 points down to defeat Oregon in triple-overtime. It made me never want to watch college football again.
But here we are, with another season upon us and another month to flip to on the calendar. Kids graduate, they transfer, they lose interest... and the roster is remade once again. Oregon demoted their defensive coordinator, longtime organizational solider Don Pellum, and hired Brady Hoke of all people to right the ship on that side of the ball. Meanwhile, another FCS transfer QB is in town to lead the Ducks for a dozen games or so. Unlike the surprise under-the-radar transfer by Vernon Adams last year, Dakota Prukop had piqued the interest of a number of major programs before landing in Eugene. Matt Lubick was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Scott Frost, who moved on to Central Florida to be their head coach. It will be a season of changes.
Interestingly enough, Prukop once had his hand in putting up 77 points on today's FCS opponent, UC Davis, back in 2014. It should be a good low-stress test of the 2016 Ducks squad, who will have to get right in a hurry when they travel to Nebraska for their third game of the season. Prukop will be joined by top returnees Royce Freeman, Darren Carrington and Olympic hurdler Devon Allen. It should be a fun season. Well, it COULD be a fun season. This is both a ranked team and an underdog at the same time, expected not to win the Pac-12 North or compete for anything this season other than a solid bowl game. It would be nice to exceed expectations this time around.
I will be down in Eugene for the opener, catching the game at Autzen Stadium like I often did back in the '90s when "voice of God" Don Essig made "It Never Rains at Autzen Stadium" part of his identity. During the fall, it would rain for six days out of the week sometimes, suddenly clearing up for gamedays. I never got rained on. And it won't rain today.