Will he stay or will he go? That’s pretty much the question all Oregon Duck fans have regarding fourth-year head coach Chip Kelly and his future with the program.
Kelly all but left the Ducks after last season to sign on to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a change of heart at the 11th hour had him stay put in Eugene for at least another year, claiming he had “unfinished business” at Oregon.
Even after his spurning of the professional league to remain in the collegiate ranks last year, Kelly has been on the short list for NFL jobs and once again appears to be a hot commodity to become the head man at numerous professional vacancies.
Regardless of whether Chip stays or leaves for greener pastures, the 2013 Duck squad should once again be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12.
The past several years Oregon has made a name for themselves by scoring points and next year it doesn’t appear as though that will be halted in the least.
First and foremost, redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota will be back with a year of experience under his belt. No one will debate the fact that Mariota had a freshman campaign that surpassed expectations. He threw for 30 touchdowns compared with only six interceptions, a ratio that most — if not all — top-flight collegiate programs would be content with.
However, at times during the year he did look like a 19-year-old redshirt freshman, especially during the matchup with Stanford where he was only 21 for 37 with an interception and looked shaky at best in the most important game of his short Oregon career.
Mariota will come back in the fall a year wiser and stronger and will also still have two legitimate receiving threats in Josh Huff and Colt Lyerla. He will have presumably played in a BCS bowl game at that point and the Pac-12 schedule should no longer throw any surprises at him.
It’s hard to mention offensive prowess and not mention De’Anthony Thomas. While the sophomore from Los Angles may not have had the Heisman Trophy season some were anticipating, his lighting quick speed and playmaking ability were never in question. During the Civil War when Kenjon Barner went down he also showed he had the ability to be a featured back as he rushed the ball 17 times for 122 yards.
While the Ducks will lose key components from their 2012 squad like Kenjon Barner and linebacker Michael Clay, the 2013 Oregon roster will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12.
If Chip Kelly decides to stick around for another year there is no reason that the Ducks will not once again be in the thick of things in the conversation for a Pac-12 championship and perhaps even a national title.