Mailbag: Ducks and Trojans in 2011?

Hope everyone is dealing well with a weekend without college football.

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To the notes.

Jason from Eugene writes: Can you post an honest breakdown of returning players for the Ducks?

Ted Miller: My honest opinion is the Ducks have a chance to get back to the very same game they just lost. And we'll know if that impression is valid quickly: The winner of the season-opener between LSU and Oregon could jump to No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation.

As for who is coming back, Rob Moseley was nice enough to provide his take on a projected starting lineup. And our buddies over at Addicted to Quack went a step further and provided a list of position-by-position depth.

My take-away is that there are a lot of new starters, but lots of guys I've heard of who have seen significant action. The Ducks lose some good guys on both lines and at linebacker, but the guys projected to step in are quality players.

As for going in-depth, position-by-position, it's probably better to do that this spring when we get a first look at the 2011 Ducks.

Sean from Alexandria, Va., writes: Watching the NCG, I thought Cam Newton looked - very good. But that's it, just very good - he threw well, had some nice gains for first down, but I don't recall at any time seeing him do anything that made me think "Wow, that's why he won the Heisman."Cam is a great quarterback, don't get me wrong, but in the NCG he didn't really do anything to make me think he's one of the best QB's in the country. Am I mistaken?

Ted Miller: Oregon ganged up to stop Newton the runner and did a fairly good job, holding him to just 62 yards on 22 carries (2.9 yards per rush). That made things easier for him in the passing game and he threw for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also missed a number of wide-open receivers, including short-arming a pass that should have been an easy touchdown on the Ducks goal line.

It would be fair to say that Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and his troops won the battle with Newton, who was not able to dominate the game as he had almost every previous game this season.

If you are projecting ahead, there were reasons to question how good an NFL QB Newton will be. And also plenty of moments that would impress an NFL GM.

But, in the end, Newton was the QB who led a game-winning drive. Of all the measures, that's the most important.

Andy from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: I was a little unhappy with the "best cheap shot" category from the best and worst of the bowls piece. I dislike showboating as much as the next fan but it really seemed congratulatory of the cheap shot, coloring it as justified by cocky behavior. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and will continue to read it as it feeds my addiction for duck related tid bits whilst I suffer through a frozen Iowa winter. This small complaint struck me simply because it seemed out of character with your normal style, seemed like something that I would expect to hear on NFL live pre-concussion revelations.

Ted Miller: Cheap shots are not a good thing, but football -- not unlike baseball -- has unwritten rules. Showboating is risky behavior. When Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon thought it would be a good idea to punctuate a 71-yard touchdown reception by taking a really, really long route to the endzone, he surely understood that the Arizona defenders would be unhappy he didn't act like he'd been into the endzone before, as he had 18 other times this season.

He should have been flagged. He wasn't. And if I played for Arizona, I,too, would have made sure he didn't get a free pass, which is what safety Adam Hall did when he blasted Blackmon away from the ball. Hall should have been flagged for what he did, but he also got away with his own moment of statement-making.

Hopefully, Hall taught Blackmon a lesson: Don't showboat.

Steve from Woodinville, Wash., writes: I was hoping after the season I would stop seeing so much Locker Love by the media. You listed him with the Best Goodbye but when you look at the facts on how UW won those 4 games, it was definitely not due to Locker "leading" UW. During the last 4 games, locker had a Completion % of 53.4% (with a 31.3% during the Holiday Bowl) compared to a season average of 55.4%. Then look at Polk with an average rush during the last 4 games of 171 yards per game compared to a season average of 109 yards per game. It is obvious that UW heavily relied on Polk and was more of a reason UW won their final 4 games than Locker. Just because Locker is the QB does not mean he "led" UW during the wins especially when he is throwing 31.3% during a final game.

Ted Miller: Locker meant more to Washington than his completion percentage. I am dead certain the Huskies would not have won their final four games without Locker. In fact, if we replayed it, I'd bet the Huskies would have lost all four games.

By the way, he also rushed for 83 yards in the Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska, so it wasn't like he was a bystander.

Patrick from Little Rock writes: I have a feeling USC will be far better this season than anyone predicts. Am I the only one picking up that vibe?

Ted Miller: Yes, so far you are the only one telling me this.

But your vibe isn't ridiculous, in large part because of Matt Barkley's third year as a starter with a solid group of skill people surrounding him. Questions on both lines and at linebacker are serious issues, though.

Jon from Tumalo, Ore., writes: The best thing about the Shaw hire, no one is making a big deal regarding the pigmentation of the man's skin. Maybe we are "getting there?"

Ted Miller: We are not "there" yet but you make a great point. We certainly are closer than we've ever been.