The 2011 season is over. That means report cards are due.
Up next: Oregon
Offense: The Ducks finished the season ranking third in the nation in scoring (46.1 ppg), fourth in total offense (523 yards per game) and fifth in rushing (299.2 ypg). So, well, not much to say there. Pretty darn good. Areas for criticism? Well, Oregon was sloppy against LSU in the opener and couldn't run the football, though no other team scored more on the Tigers than Oregon (27 points). Quarterback Darron Thomas had moments when his accuracy was off. No Ducks receiver earned even honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. Running back LaMichael James didn't win the Doak Walker Award again. Yeah, we're reaching a bit.
Defense: The defense ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in both total defense (390.1 ypg) and scoring defense (24.6 ppg). But the Ducks ranked second in the conference in yards per play -- 5.07 -- which is a better measure of the defense because of how quickly the offense works. LSU scored 40 points but only gained 273 yards -- the Ducks were done in by four turnovers. USC piled up 462 yards and 38 points in a win in Eugene. Wisconsin ran over the Ducks in the first half of the Rose Bowl, but the Ducks stiffened in the second half. Still, after replacing six starters from the 2010 unit, it's hard to call the Ducks' defense anything less than solid.
Overall: Oregon began the season as a national title contender, ranked third in the preseason poll. They finished ranked fourth -- a year after finishing ranked third. There were high expectations this season and the Ducks met them. The biggest accomplishment was winning the Rose Bowl after losing two previous BCS bowl games. That was a meaningful step in terms of national perception. By the way, the Ducks look like national title contenders again in 2012. Really, there was only one way the Ducks could have produced a better season, and that's finishing ranked No. 1. And, folks, I can't bring myself to give a team an A- when it wins the Rose Bowl and finishes ranked in the top five.