WR James Finley (PHOTO BY: John Giustina)

2005 Statistics

Coach: Mike Bellotti
90-42, 11 years
2005 Record: 10-2
at Houston WON 38-24
USC LOST 13-45
at Stanford WON 44-20
at Arizona State WON 31-17
at Arizona WON 28-21
at Washington State WON 34-31
vs. Oklahoma LOST 14-17

2005 Final Rankings
AP-12, Coaches-12, BCS-5

2006 Outlook

The Ducks surprised most, rebounding from a disappointing 5-6 record in 2004 to finish 10-2 in ‘05. Duplicating feat will be difficult as the Ducks have a much stronger strength of schedule this year, opening at home with Stanford, at Fresno State and then returning home for a rematch with Holiday Bowl opponent Oklahoma. There are no easy games against I-AA schools such as Montana on tap. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the season goes on either, with trips to California and USC in October and November. Still, teams who start strong early are the ones who the BCS will favor, so this is all good for a quality group from Eugene.

The offense is loaded with talent and should again rack up points easily. The experience Dixon and Leaf picked up filling in for Clemens last year can only make the offense stronger. The return of all five OLmen should enable Stewart and Johnson to rack up the yards and for the quarterbacks and receivers to connect big downfield. New receivers coach Robin Pflugrad has a strong group to work with and they should continue to shine in the pass-heavy Duck’s spread offense.

The defense is not as strong as the one anchored by Ngata, which was arguably the best in the Pac-10, but it’s hardly a weak link. There are still plenty of players capable of making big plays and enabling the Ducks to win the turnover battle again. The addition of several skilled transfers should help ease the pain of losing so many on D. If the secondary can come together early, the Ducks could again be looking at a good season.

But we all know their goal is to knock USC off of its perch, and if they don’t, they have to win the rest of their games to make the BCS. All of their great play can not again go toward a non-New Year’s Day bowl, but it looks likely. As long as they win at Corvallis, which they should, it will be salvageable.

Projected 2006 record: 8-4
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 2.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 2.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Dennis Dixon, 104-69-3, 777 yds., 6 TD

Rushing: Jonathan Stewart, 53 att., 188 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: James Finley, 57 rec., 571 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Paul Martinez, 19-24 FG, 26-30 PAT, 83 pts.

Punting: Matt Dragich, 32 punts, 38.9 avg.

Kicking: Paul Martinez, 19-24 FG, 26-30 PAT, 83 pts.

Tackles: Patrick Chung, 91 tot., 58 solo

Sacks: Matt Toeaina, 3 sacks

Interceptions: Patrick Chung, 2 for 38 yds.; Blair Phillips, 2 for 9 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Jonathan Stewart, 12 ret., 33.7 avg., 2 TD

Punt Returns:
Sharrod Davis, 2 ret., -2.0 avg., 0 TD


DB J.D. Nelson (PHOTO: Eric Evans)
OFFENSE: Kellen Clemens-QB, Terrence Whitehead-TB, Demetrius Williams-WR, Tim Day-TE
DEFENSE: Devan Long-DE, Aaron Gipson-CB, Justin Phinisee-CB, Anthony Trucks-SS, Haloti Ngata-DT (NFL)

The quarterback job appears to be up for grabs after juniors Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf finished splitting time at the position after Kellen Clemens suffered a season-ending broken ankle against Arizona. Dixon is slated to be the starter, but he faces strong competition for the spot from Leaf. Dixon completed over 66 percent of his passes and threw for six touchdowns last year, but Leaf led the team to comeback wins in three of the final four games. Both players have similar strengths, strong arms and the ability to read defenses well, and the spread offense instituted by head coach Mike Bellotti last year plays to those strengths.

Running Back
On paper, the weak link for the Ducks is at running back, however, the loss of Pac-10 honorable mention Terrence Whitehead should give sophomores Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson a chance to shine. Stewart and Johnson both possess a finishing speed that Whitehead lacked, but will have to prove that they can be as adept at making tacklers miss and at picking up yards after contact. Both are capable receivers, which is a plus in the Oregon one-back offense. Also be on the lookout for sophomore Terrell Jackson, who’s been compared favorably to Whitehead by Bellotti and who played in a spread offense in high school.

The receiving corps returns two starters from a unit that racked up over 3,500 yards a year ago. Senior James Finley, Jr., an honorable mention all-Pac-10 selection, and junior Cameron Colvin should be joined in the starting lineup by sophomore Jaison Williams, although Derrick Jones, whose long, strange journey to Oregon is finally over, could challenge for a starting role. Jones, who originally signed and practiced with USC before being declared academically ineligible, committed to Oregon last year, but wasn’t admitted to classes. Now admitted, he’s expected to join the team for spring drills and to bring speed and big play ability. The depth and experience in the receiving corps should enable them to again be among the strongest in the Pac-10. The spread offense run by the Ducks plays to the strengths of the receivers, their speed and route running.

Tight End
The Ducks lost their top tight end (Tim Day), but Dante Rosario is ready. Rosario is more of a blocker than Day, but does possess pass-catching abilities. Look for Ed Dixon to be a primary target, though he could use some weight is he is to push those big opposing linemen around.

Offensive Line
Five starters return to make this one of the most experienced groups of starters in the Pac-10. Tackle Max Unger was an honorable mention all-Pac-10 selection and made the all-America freshman team, while senior center Enoka Lucas was a second team Pac-10 pick. Depth remains a problem for the unit, however, as the group is thin after the starting five, a problem that was obvious during Oregon’s loss to Oklahoma in the Holiday Bowl. Junior college transfers Pat So’oalo and Fenuki Tupou should be impact players. Of concern was their modest 3.8 yards per carry for the team’s ‘05 average, something that has to improve if Oregon’s spread approach is to rise to beat USC.

The Ducks’ offense should be potent this year with seven returning starters (all linemen are back) and two quarterbacks who picked up significant playing time as 2005 ended. The offensive line’s chemistry and experience should keep opposing teams’ pass rushers away from Dixon and Leaf, buying them time to complete plays downfield. The line’s ability to open up wide running lanes should mean big yards for Stewart, Johnson and Jackson. The strong receiving corps will enable the Ducks to spread the defense and pick up plenty of big plays. This should be one of the top units in the Pac-10, but with their main objective a conference title, this offense has to beat USC, something that may be a strain unless they can balance things out (were 74th-ranked rushing offense, 8th in passing).


C Enoka Lucas (PHOTO BY: John Giustina)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Dennis Dixon-Jr (6-4, 196) Brady Leaf-Jr (6-5, 231)
TB Jonathan Stewart-So (5-11, 234) Jeremiah Johnson-So (5-9, 213)
WR James Finley-Sr (6-2, 204) Garren Strong-Jr (6-3, 200)
WR Brian Paysinger-Jr (6-2, 208) Jordan Kent-Sr (6-5, 210)
WR Cameron Colvin-Jr (6-2, 205) Jaison Williams-So (6-5, 243)
TE Dante Rosario-Sr (6-4, 250) Ryan Keeling-So (6-5, 247)
OT Max Unger-So (6-5, 296) Fenuki Tupou-Jr (6-6, 322)
OG Josh Tschirgi-Jr (6-4, 311) Pat So'oalo-Jr (6-5, 355)
C Enoka Lucas-Sr (6-4, 299) Mark Lewis-So (6-4, 292)
OG Palauni Ma Sun-Sr (6-6, 335) Simi Toeaina-Fr (6-4, 308)
OT Geoff Schwartz-Jr (6-7, 359) Jacob Hucko-So (6-7, 307)
K Paul Martinez-Sr (6-2, 210) ..


Defensive Line
The defensive line suffered major losses. The line does return two senior starters in Pogo Pogo-native Matt Toeaina and end Victor Filipe, but neither was a force. Three junior college transfers, Dexter Manley II, Jeremy Gibbs and Micah Howeth, and returning sophomore Cole Linehan should help shore up the line. Manley (son of NFL’s Dexter) is a pass-rush specialist who can be counted on to get to the quarterback regularly. Once the line jells it should pick up where last year’s left off, helping to lead the best overall defense in yards allowed in the Pac-10.

The linebacker corps is the defense’s strength, returning all senior starters. Brent Haberly is well-rounded and svelte, as is Blair Phillips overall approach. A.J. Tuitele continues to develop and should be able make some more noise than last season. The Ducks run a two-LB set, so these guys have to be sharp, and will be.

Defensive Back
Luckily for the Ducks, senior J.D. Nelson, a second team all-Pac-10 pick, and sophomore Patrick Chung return to shore up the secondary. Chung, an honorable mention all-Pac-10 selection, could be moving to corner after playing rover. He possesses all the skills for the position, but will be sitting out spring practice to recover from off-season surgery. Oregon sought out defensive backs while recruiting to fill its obvious needs in this unit, signing junior college transfers Jameel Dowling and Mathew Harper. The newcomers have some big shoes to fill, but with Nelson and Chung to lead them and the opportunity to practice against the high-powered Ducks’ offense expect this group to come together quickly.

With the return of six starters and the signing of several junior college transfers, this D should be able to return to form (44th in the nation). The opportunity to practice against the offense can only make the defense better. If the relatively green secondary comes together early, the Ducks’ ability to stop both the run and the pass will make things very difficult for opposing teams. The Ducks won the turnover battle last year and led the Pac-10 in fewest yards allowed. If they can do it again, they have a chance at USC. Otherwise, watch the D’s weekly stamina – they spend a bit of extra time on the field when the offense is in high gear, scoring quickly.


ROV Patrick Chung (PHOTO BY: John Giustina)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Matt Toeaina-Sr (6-3, 301) Victor Filipe-Sr (6-2, 290)
DT Cole Linehan-So (6-4, 295) Ra'Shon Harris-So (6-5, 305)
DT David Faaeteete-Jr (6-2, 307) Thor Pili-So (6-4, 283)
DE Darius Sanders-Sr (6-5, 269) Michael Speed-So (6-4, 254)
WLB Brent Haberly-Sr (6-0, 228) A.J. Tuitele-Jr (5-11, 213)
MLB Blair Phillips-Sr (6-2, 246) John Bacon-So (6-3, 235)
ROV Patrick Chung-So (5-11, 205) Parris Moore-Sr (6-0, 190)
CB Jackie Bates-Jr (5-10, 180) Jameel Dowling-Jr (6-2, 184)
CB Willie Glasper-Fr (5-11, 175) Walter Thurmond-Fr (6-0, 175)
SS Kwame Agyeman-Jr (5-11, 205) Jerome Boyd-So (6-2, 211)
FS J.D. Nelson-Sr (5-11, 219) Ryan DePalo-Jr (6-1, 199)
P Matt Dragich-Sr (6-1, 213) Aaron Knowles-Sr (6-0, 182)


Senior Paul Martinez returns to the Ducks after a season in which he led all Pac-10 kickers. Martinez’ range and accuracy gives the Ducks the option of scoring instead punting on fourth down. Kickoff specialist Matt Evensen also is utilized on longer FGAs, but his 44% average isn’t going to get him on the field to score as often as Martinez. Coverage should continue to win OU field position.

Two seniors, Matt Dragich and Aaron Knowles, will again compete like the PKs to see who has the hot foot that week. Knowles has both a higher average and a higher percentage fair caught, but Dragich is the preferred booter. Net results were weak enough to make us think they may lose some field-position battles from this unit.

Return Game
Look for Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson to pick up the slack. Stewart is a strong kick returner, who had two touchdowns and a superior 33+ average per KR. Johnson has his back. Patrick Chung might also see some time returning kicks. The punt guy will be determined in spring ball, so keep an eye here.