2011 overall record: 12-2
2011 conference record: 8-1 (T 1st, North)
Returning starters: offense: 5; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 2
RB LaMichael James, QB Darron Thomas, WR Lavasier Tuinei, OG Mark Asper, TE David Paulson, ROV Eddie Pleasant, LB Josh Kaddu
2011 statistical leaders (*returner)
Rushing: LaMichael James (1,805 yards)
Passing: Darron Thomas (2,761 yards)
Receiving: Lavasier Tuinei (599 yards)
Tackles: John Boyett* (108)
Sacks: Dion Jordan* (7.5)
Interceptions: Eddie Pleasant (3)
1. QB Marcus Mariota is legit: While folks had been praising Mariota for a while, there was still a general feeling that the QB job was Bryan Bennett's to lose. Turns out it might be Mariota's to win. He was lights-out in the spring game, significantly outplaying Bennett, who seemed ruffled by the situation (and his notably weaker supporting cast). Any doubt this is a legit competition is gone now.
2. Taylor Hart is probably the guy at DE: The Ducks appear, like many Pac-12 teams, to be moving toward a base 3-4 defense. That made filling a void at defensive end a bit easier, as tackle Taylor Hart moves over to the spot where Terrell Turner played. Hart is an underrated player with skills to play both inside and outside.
3. Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso are ready for their closeups: Jordan and Alonso are two of the more physically talented Ducks. Jordan, first-team All-Pac-12 in 2011, is a contender for conference Defensive Player of the Year and he could play his way into the first round of the NFL draft. While he looks skinny, he's powerful. Alonso is just a beast -- one who also happens to be a very good athlete. Coordinator Nick Aliotti said both were dominant this spring.
1. Who's the QB? While Mariota won the day in the spring game, that doesn't mean he's going to win the starting job. After all, it was just one practice and we have no idea what happened during the other 14 because Ducks' practices are closed. It's possible Chip Kelly will wait until the week before the opener against Arkansas State to name a starter.
2. Who gets Pleasant? Aliotti said replacing rover Eddie Pleasant is his biggest concern. That make sense because Pleasant really grew into the position last year. It appears that Brian Jackson and Avery Patterson are the top two choices to play next to free safety John Boyett. Erick Dargan is another possibility.
3. Is Byron Marshall ready? Due to recent defections, Tra Carson most notably this offseason, the Ducks are thin at running back behind Kenjon Barner. While De'Anthony Thomas can carry the ball out of the backfield, he seems a better fit as a hybrid RB/WR. You don't want to expose him to 20 hits a game coming out of the backfield. Touted incoming freshman Byron Marshall could solve some problems if he's ready to win the backup job. It seems unlikely he redshirts.