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March 28, 2010

Can Oregon win Pac-10 without Masoli?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Can Oregon win the Pac-10 without suspended QB Jeremiah Masoli?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Masoli's suspension certainly rendered Oregon's championship prospects more uncertain, but it didn't end them. The Ducks return an experienced team, with all five offensive linemen and a couple of breakaway threats at running back in LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner. That's a best-case scenario when starting an inexperienced quarterback. Also, don't forget that Nate Costa was set as Oregon's starting QB in 2008 before a knee injury forced him to miss the season. He's a better passer than Masoli. If Costa does emerge as the starter, a new dimension may be added to Oregon's offense. Of course, one could argue the Ducks are a running team and without Masoli that running game won't be as effective. But if the Ducks decide they need a more mobile quarterback, Darron Thomas may prove to be Masoli's equal as a runner. Obviously, the Ducks would rather have Masoli running the offense, but they are not without capable guys to take his place.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I don't like to count out Chip Kelly, who has proven that he has a knack for finding and developing quarterbacks. But I don't think Kelly and the Ducks will be able to overcome the loss of Masoli, who I think would have been a legit Heisman Trophy contender. I believe USC now will be picked by most people to win the Pac-10 in 2010. In fact, I could envision Oregon also slipping behind Oregon State and Stanford in the Pac-10 pecking order.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think the Ducks still should be the Pac-10 preseason favorite. The offense is loaded even without Masoli, and there's a potentially great rushing attack. If injury-prone Nate Costa can stay healthy, Oregon will have a solid quarterback - not as good as Masoli, but more than just a game-manager type. The defensive line was the biggest question before the Masoli suspension, and it should be good enough as long as some depth is developed. The defensive back seven looks strong. Oregon is going to be fine.

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