2018 Oregon football projections on the Hour Glass
By John Luke McCord
Last December Oregon made Mario Cristobal their third different head coach since the start of the 2013 season. Prior to that season the program was led by just two head coaches dating back to the 1995 season. One of those former HCs, Chip Kelly, is back in the PAC-12 after having taken the UCLA job this offseason. The Ducks will host Kelly’s Bruins on the first Saturday in November this season.
Evaluating Oregon through the lens of Hour Glass analytics makes it hard to get an answer of just how good the Ducks can be this season. For starters, returning QB1 Justin Herbert is one of the rising stars in all of the league and ranks fifth among returning PAC-12 signal callers with an HG QB stamp of 12.6. That mark also puts him second behind Jake Browning at Washington among returning QBs in the PAC-12 North. The next best number in the favor of the Ducks is their 84.1 HG three-year recruiting stamp, which ranks third in the PAC-12 and 19th in the FBS (within the realist CFB Playoff contender line - top 30 teams). So the talent is on the roster not only to compete in the conference, but also to make the college football playoff for what would be the second time in school history. With Cristobal being one of five new coaches in the league this season, of course the Ducks don’t rank high in that category, but with nearly half the league under the uncertainty it’s not a major disadvantage. Especially considering Cristobal’s vast experience.
An area beyond the three main categories of the Hour Glass analytics is strength of schedule. Oregon has the ninth most difficult schedule in the PAC-12 in 2018, mostly due to three cupcakes in the non-conference and having their three-most difficult games - Stanford, Washington and UCLA - at home.
As stated, the strength of this Oregon team will be the talent on the roster and the rise of Herbert at QB. However, much of the talent on the roster is still young and lacking on abundant experience. Around QB, expect Oregon to be better along the OL in 2018 as that group has grown together and grown more physical this past spring under Cristobal. At receiver, there’s Dillon Mitchell, Johnny Johnson, Brenden Schooler and Daewood Davis, who can really make plays. As well, expect the tight ends to be a factor this fall, especially leading returner Jacob Breeland, but that includes Cam McCormick, Hunter Kampmoyer and Matt Mariota. Like tight end, there will be four main options at running back, too. Tony Brooks-James was excellent in 2016 in Royce Freeman’s absence, and he will be the man in 2018. However, CJ Verdell, Taj Griffin and Darrian Felix also appear to be primed to produce when needed.
As the physicality has improved along the offensive line, so has it along the d-line, too. That starts up front with Jordan Scott, who pairs well beside pass rusher Jalen Jelks. The Ducks will need production up front from Justin Hollins, Gary Baker, Austin Faoliu and others as well, though. At linebacker Troy Dye and L’Mar Winston return in addition to fast-rising youngster Isaac Slade-Matautia. Ugo Amadi is the clear leader of the defensive secondary and a talented safety room. However, the Ducks will have to find depth behind Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham at corner but they’ll have a couple of solid options to choose from.
HG analytics pick: 9-3, 3rd in PAC-12 North
My pick: 9-3, 3rd in PAC-12 North
2017 Oregon projections were at 9-3; actual finish @ 7-5 (82 percent accuracy)
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 19th – Inside our College Football Playoff bust line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Mario Cristobal on HG Scale: 61st (Cristobal Stamp at 2) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Oregon quarterback play rated 37th in the country in our overall rankings with a stamp of 13. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3.