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2021 College Football Team Preview: #9 Oregon Ducks

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The Oregon Ducks check-in as the ninth-rated team in our college football preseason rankings (CBSSports.com). Oregon finished the 2020 campaign with a 4-3 record but still brought home their second straight PAC 12 title by beating USC. The Ducks did end the year on a sour note by getting blown out by the Iowa State Cyclones in the Fiesta Bowl.

Head coach Mario Cristobal will definitely have the Ducks ready to roll this season with the hopes of a third straight conference title and a potential playoff berth on the line. Here’s a closer look at the 2021 Oregon Ducks.

2021 Offense

Tyler Shough, last year’s starting QB, transferred to Texas Tech during the offseason. This leaves the door wide open for former Boston College star Anthony Brown to win the starting job. 

Brown has the potential to do some big things for the Ducks in 2021. The 6-2 226 pounder has thrown for 4,902 yards and 42 touchdowns during his college career. Behind Brown is Ty Thompson, a highly touted true freshman from Arizona.

Oregon has plenty of solid options at the running back position. Juniors CJ Verdell and Travis Dye will share the workload this year the same way they did last year. Dye appears to be a little more explosive as evidenced by his 6.9 yards per carry average in 2020.

Jaylon Redd and Johnny Johnson III will lead the Ducks receiving corps this year. Both are experienced seniors who have great hands and game-breaking speed. Also, expect to see more highlight plays from sophomore Mycah Pittman, who averaged 15.4 yards per catch last season.

2021 Defense

Oregon used to be a program that had a stellar offense but played very little defense. That is no longer the case. Kayvon Thibodeaux is quite possibly the best defensive player in the country and very well could be the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Thibodeaux racked up 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks in only seven games in 2020. Sophomore Mykael Wright is one of the best cornerbacks in the PAC-12 and he broke up nine passes last year. Keep your eyes out for two highly talented freshmen, Brandon Buckner and Jaylin Davies, to see some playing time in 2021 as well.

2021 Special Teams

Redshirt sophomore Henry Katleman will return as the Ducks starting kicker this year. Katleman hit all four of his field-goal attempts and all 13 of his extra-point attempts in 2020.

Tom Snee comes back as the starting punter for Oregon in 2021. Snee has a huge leg and he averaged 43.6 yards per punt in 2020.

Mykael Wright has a ton of speed and shows the ability to make defenders miss in the kick return game. Wright had 270 kick return yards last season.

Travis Dye will be the main punt returner for the Ducks this year. Dye returned three punts for 40 yards in 2020.

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