A paramount task for new offensive coordinator Scott Frost is filling the void left by the graduation of Kenjon Barner, and his 2,000+ all-purpose yards last season. Barner was exceptional because he was consistent, was a leader as an upperclassmen, and knew how to prepare for each opponent and bring his A-game every Saturday. With Barner now paired with former adversary Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, the Ducks need players to step up at the skill positions if they’re going to reproduce or improve on last years success.
Where will the new production come from, and who will replace the nearly 300 touches that Barner had on offense? Byron Marshall could get 10-15 touches per game after a solid freshman campaign. De’Anthony Thomas should finally break the 200 touch mark (after about 170 in 2013) and be a serious Heisman candidate, and freshman running back Thomas Tyner is a serious speed threat, and could see 100+ touches if he adjusts to the college game quickly.
The Ducks may throw more this year than in recent memory, as Mariota is among the best quarterbacks in the nation. If that’s the case, expect guys like Colt Lyerla and Keanon Lowe to potentially double their statistics from last year and be major contributors. Lyerla could have 50+ catches and be an All Pac-12 player. With his athleticism he’s a major mismatch at the tight end position. If redshirt junior Keanon Lowe continues to improve as a blocker and route runner, his experience may be enough to secure the #2 wide receiver spot over rising sophomore Bralon Addison. Ducks fans will have to wait ’til kickoff on August 31st to see how the depth chart shakes out.