When the news arrived Friday that Dwayne Stanford, the lanky, 6’5″ true sophomore receiver, was going under the knife to fix a potentially serious knee injury, panic began to spread amongst the Oregon faithful. With Mark Helfrich now leading the charge, it’s expected that the Ducks could be looking to the air more this season, which will require the receivers to step up in a way that hasn’t been seen around these parts in a while.
Dwayne Stanford was expected to be part of a receiving corp that would bring a renewed air attack about. Now, with his status up in the air, opportunity is arising for others to make a name for themselves.
Already, it appears that his teammates are taking the cue. The buzz around practice is that Bralon Addison, another true sophomore, is lighting up anyone who attempts to touch him. Also B.J. Kelley, the last remaining receiver from the much ballyhooed 2011 recruiting class, could be a burner in the slot that Marcus Mariota will rely on heavily.
Last year, I wrote that the initial depth chart at receiver was less than enthralling — at first glance, Keanon Lowe didn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents. What was realized, however, is that clearly the coaching staff knows more than I do (I know, I was shocked too!) and sometimes the best weapon you have is the undervalued one. Lowe was a wonderful compliment to Josh Huff, and his blocking skills and sure-hands came into play consistently throughout the season.
With De’Anthony Thomas expected to receive more carries in an attempt to replace Kenjon Barner, and Stanford’s status unknown, here is a list of guys who could find their workload increased this season:
Colt Lyerla – No player is more under utilized, at least in fans minds, than the freakish Lyerla. With tight end size and receiver speed, Lyerla is a matchup nightmare for opponents, and could have a breakout campaign under Helfrich.
Bralon Addison – As a true freshman, Addison says he was doing more thinking than playing. With a year under his belt, and an expanded role, he could be the downfield threat that Oregon has lacked. Small in stature at just 5’10” and 180 pounds, Addison’s jitterbug-maneuvers and speed could help open up the running game.
Chance Allen – Not much is known about the rangy receiver, except that he is fast – really fast. Allen redshirted last season in hopes that he would enter this season with a firm grip on the playbook, and from all that we have heard that’s exactly what happened.
Eric Dungy – Never flashy, always steady — much like his father, Tony – Eric is a known commodity for the coaching staff. Not a burner, but with sticky hands, Dungy could be a rock over the middle, a man not afraid to sacrifice his body to make a catch. With an expanded role, Dungy could be a hidden gem for the Mariota to target.
Josh Huff – Huff’s swan song has all the makings of being spectacular. When healthy — which he battled, particularly in his sophomore season – Huff is perhaps the second most explosive player on the roster, just behind the Momba. If he stay away from the injury bug, Josh may finally find himself entranced in an offense that utilizes his talents to the fullest.