2015 Pac-12 season grades: Oregon Ducks

The 2015 season is officially over for the Pac-12. We kick off our season review by handing out some grades for each team.


Offense: As evidenced in the Valero Alamo Bowl and at other points this season, there are two Oregon offenses: the one with quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and center Matt Hegarty healthy, and the one without them. With both of those guys in, the Ducks had one of the most exciting offenses in the country. Even with all the hoopla this year, Adams finished with the second-highest passer efficiency rating of any quarterback in the country. (Baylor's Seth Russell, who played just seven games, finished first.) Running back Royce Freeman led a talented stable of backs for the Ducks, and Adams was given plenty of options downfield with Bralon Addison, Darren Carrington, Byron Marshall, Dwayne Stanford, Charles Nelson and the rest of the receiving group. But it’s difficult to completely ignore that the offense was wildly inefficient without Adams and Hegarty. The second half of the Alamo Bowl game -- played without Adams and Hegarty -- was the final half of football that the Ducks played this season, and what did they have to show for it? Eighteen total yards at a yard per play (excluding overtime). With a healthy Adams and Hegarty, this is a fantastic offense. Without it, it’s far from that. So, we’ll do split grading on this one. Grade: A (with Adams and Hegarty); C (without)

Defense: The Ducks finished last in the conference in scoring defense (37.5 points per game) and total defense (485 yards per game) and then gave up 31 second half points and 356 second half yards to a TCU offense that was missing Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. The young secondary struggled mightily early in the season; it shored things up a bit near the end of the year (though, not consistently) and ended up giving up 56 pass plays of 20-plus yards (only seven FBS teams did worse against the pass). The defensive front seven produced the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year in DeForest Buckner and 38 sacks, but it also gave up 4.7 yards per rush and 70 rushes of 10-plus yards. Near the tail end of the season, Oregon showed it could stand tough defensively at the ends of games. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the Ducks gave up six yards per play and consistently put themselves in positions in which they needed to save themselves. Grade: C-plus

Special teams: All-Pac-12 first-team kicker Aidan Schneider's performances this season earned him a scholarship before the bowl game. He made all 67 of the Ducks’ extra points and converted 22 of 24 field goal attempts, including all six of his attempts from 40-plus yards. The Ducks led the Pac-12 in kick returns and were fourth in the conference in punt returns. However, they struggled severely in the punt game. Oregon finished dead last in the league in punt average (35.7) and was one of two teams in the conference to have three punts blocked. (Colorado was the other team.) Grade: B

Overall: If Adams were healthy and available the entire season, it’s obvious that things might have shaken out differently for the Ducks. But when grading, you can’t ignore the fact that no backup quarterback -- and center, for that matter -- could get business done, and the defense continued to make life hard for itself. Grade: B-plus (with Adams and Hegarty); B (without)