UC Davis-Oregon Preview

BY foxsports • August 30, 2016

Quarterback Dakota Prukop is new to Oregon and new to the Football Bowl Subdivision, but he's familiar with the Ducks' opening opponent -- UC Davis.

Prukop, when he was at Montana State, directed a 77-37 victory over the Aggies in 2014.

He'll get another shot with No. 24 Oregon and its potent offense Saturday at Autzen Stadium (5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network).

Prukop, who joined the team as a graduate transfer in the spring, won the starting job in fall camp.

"We are ready to go out and hit someone else," Prukop said. "I'm ready to take some hits and play some football again."

Prukop, a dual-threat quarterback who had 7,347 yards of total offense in three seasons with the Bobcats, is the second consecutive one-and-done quarterback for the Ducks. He follows Vernon Adams Jr., a graduate transfer from Eastern Washington, who played well at quarterback last season when healthy.

Prukop, a 2015 FCS All-American, will have many of Adams' favorite targets back this season, including six of the team's top receivers, led by junior Darren Carrington, who averaged 87 receiving yards per game after returning from a six-game suspension.

Dwayne Stanford caught 30 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns. Charles Nelson, who split time at safety and receiver last year, is back on offense full time after catching 17 passes for 270 yards last season. Oregon also hopes for a return to form from tight end Pharaoh Brown, a first-team All-Pac-12 performer in 2014 who missed all of last season with a leg injury.

Oregon's always-strong ground game returns its top four rushers, led by Royce Freeman, an all-conference pick who ran for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He was the only FBS player to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in every game last year.

But the Ducks have questions, which is why they are not ranked as highly in the preseason as usual following their 9-4 season.

Oregon has three true freshman starters on the offensive line, its backup quarterback is a true freshman (Justin Herbert), it has just one returning starter in the defensive front seven, and it lost potential starting cornerback Chris Seisay to transfer during camp.

"We're a long way from being any kind of defense," new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said after Oregon's final scrimmage of the fall.

Coach Mark Helfrich brought in Hoke, the former Michigan head man, after Oregon's defense allowed 37.5 points per game, ranking 115th out of 127 teams nationally. The Ducks will get to kick the tires on their new 4-3 scheme in the opener before the schedule gets harder -- vs. Virginia and then at Nebraska before conference play begins.

UC Davis has gone 2-9 in each of the past two seasons and was picked to finish last in the 13-team Big Sky in a preseason coaches' poll.

Carrington might not play in the opener because of a minor shoulder injury suffered in camp. Wide receiver Devon Allen returned to the team following his fifth-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles at the Rio Olympics, but it was unclear if he would play in the opener.

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