To open the 2013-2014 season, the Pac-12′s No. 3-ranked Ducks will host the Southland Conference’s Nicholls State Colonels on Aug. 31 at Autzen Stadium. Although the teams hail from opposite sides of the country — Nicholls State’s campus is in Thibidaux, La. — there’s a common thread among them: Both the Ducks and the Generals visited Oregon State’s Reser Stadium in 2012. While the Ducks pulled a 48-24 win in that year’s Civil War game, OSU breezed past Nicholls State, 77-3. Here’s how the Ducks and Generals stack up:
Oregon: The Ducks featured one of the most watched offenses in the nation last season, ranking third in the nation in rushing with 315.2 per game, 73rd in passing with 222.2 yards per game and second in scoring at 49.6 points per game according to ESPN’s 2012 Football Bowl Subdivision Rankings. While the Ducks need to replace running back Kenjon Barner, the Ducks return Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota and a veteran wide receiver corps.
Nicholls State: Last season, the Colonels averaged 116.3 rushing yards and 222.1 passing yards per game, finishing last in the Southland conference (FCS) with a 1-10 overall record. Despite finishing the year with a nearly identical passing game compared to the Ducks, the Colonels averaged only 17.7 points per game in a much weaker conference.
Oregon: The Ducks allowed 374.15 yards per game last season, ranking 44th in total defense. Despite losing Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso and John Boyett, the Ducks are deep on the depth chart on defense, and will attempt to rotate as many fresh players into the game as possible.
Nicholls State: The Colonels gave up 455.7 yards per game last season in addition to forfeiting 38.7 points per game.
Oregon: De’Anthony Thomas and Keanon Lowe, who averaged 19.42 yards per kickoff last season, are returning. It will again come down to kicking as the Ducks will decide between true freshman Matt Wogan and Alejandro Maldonado for the head kicking job this year. Maldonado will start at the punter position while Wogan has been named to the starting kickoff specialist.
Nicholls State: The Colonels averaged 42 yards per punt and converted 10 of 14 field goals last season. While Nicholls State may not be known for speed and talent that breaks open a game on special teams, it was one area that was reliable for the Colonels last year. Because offense averaged 17.7 points per game and the Colonels defense gave up more than 450 yards to opposing teams, the special teams unit had no other choice but to take the field — something no team wishes to see.
Players to watch for
Thomas Tyner (freshman) RB: Tyner rushed for 643 yards once at Aloha High School.
Tony Washington (junior) LB: 12 solo tackles, 8 assisted tackles, 1 tackle for loss.
Alejandro Maldonado (senior)/ Matt Wogan (freshman) PK: Maldonado completed 50 percent of field goals, and racked up 3 solo tackles. Wogan is competing for the starting place kicking position and according to Helfrich, Wogan has a powerful leg.
Marcus Washington (senior) RB: 5.2 yards per carry, 598 total rushing yards, all-Southland honorable mention (2012).
Landry Klann (senior) QB: 2049 total passing yards, eight touchdowns, Southland Conference All-Academic (2012).
Josh Hanberry (junior) WR: 308 total receiving yards, 30.8 receiving yards per game, Southland Conference All-Academic (2012).