March 10, 2008

2007 Unit Rankings #4: QB

Duck Sports Authority begins its Spring Camp preparation with a final evaluation and ranking of the 2007 position units. Coming in at #4 in the unit rankings is Quarterback.

Season Unit Analysis: Quarterback This analysis is almost not worth doing so much has been said and written about Oregon's 2007 quarterback situation. It was probably the most discussed single subject this year around Oregon water coolers until Terrelle Pryor showed up on the radar. The reason quarterback was on everybody's mind was because Dennis Dixon made a spectacular run at the Heisman Trophy, then predictably dropped from consideration following a season-ending injury in the ninth game of the season.

Summary Opinion: B Dennis Dixon performed at an unbelievably high level running the Oregon offense under Chip Kelly, and looked like a completely different guy than the 2006 version. Dixon's decision making was generally excellent, his ball handling breathtaking, and his passing at times very good. Additionally, he had the ability to make big plays and first downs with his feet, without taking hard shots. The second half of this report card is the play of everybody else. Brady Leaf was adequate before his injury, but not close to the level Dixon played. Soon after Dixon was lost for the season so was Leaf, so the duty fell upon the shoulders of Cody Kempt, who was unable to make the plays necessary to move the offense. The silver lining in the post-Dixon season was Justin Roper's commendable Sun Bowl performance. With Dixon finishing the season this grade would probably have been an 'A' and #1 in the Unit Rankings.

Key Players:

Dennis Dixon SR - 172-254-2136 20 TD's, 4 INT's passing, 105-583, 9 TD's rushing, 10 games - Had the best nine game stretch of any Oregon quarterback.

Brady Leaf SR - 34-72-276, 2 INT's passing, 18-2 rushing, 11 games - Never got the playing time to find a rhythm in his senior season.

Justin Roper RFR - 34-72-342, 6 TD's, 2 INT's passing, 15-1, TD rushing, 4 games - Was beat out by Cody Kempt until the Sun Bowl practices, then something clicked.

Cody Kempt RFR - 6-26-52, 2 INT's passing, 8-21 rushing, 3 games - Struggled when thrust unexpectedly in a starting role so early in his career.

Nathan Costa RS - Redshirted due to injury after playing as a true freshman in 2006.

Key Statistics: The numbers don't lie about Dennis Dixon's improvement from 2006 to 2007. How much is attributable to Chip Kelly is hard to determine given a senior's natural progression, but it's safe to say Kelly helped Dixon more than off-season baseball did. Roper having a higher QB rating than the opponents' composite against the Ducks is interesting. Ball security was superior under Dixon this year.

Dixon QB rating 2006: 120.7
Dixon QB rating 2007: 161.2
Roper QB rating 2007: 125.5
Opponent's QB rating 2007: 114.2
Dixon INT/Game 2006: 1.2
Dixon INT/Game 2007: 0.4

Season Improvement Rating: Sudden decline (-0.12) Too bad this number isn't divided into two segment, one with nine games and one with four. If that were the case, then both time periods would show positive improvement. Taken in aggregate however, the position declined substantially, simple though the explanation may be.

Best 2007 Game: Michigan The Ducks flew into Ann Arbor 1-0 but with major question marks on both offense and defense following a first game-like performance in the season's first game. Michigan had just been humiliated by Appalachian State the prior week so the Ducks expected a hornet's nest in the Big House. Dennis Dixon took the national stage and made the most of it putting in one of the finer performances by an Oregon quarterback in memory. Dixon did everything right including three long touchdown passes and a fake statue-of-liberty touchdown run.

Unit MVP: Dennis Dixon Dennis made this decision easy. The big question for him is whether he'll be playing on Sunday's and if so, doing exactly what? Smart money is on 'yes' for the first question, but on the second nothing is certain.

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