Every Defense’s Nightmare: A Three-Headed Monster

Kevin Cline

The college football season is just around the corner and fans everywhere are eager to see our beloved Ducks make yet another run at the national championship.  A three-headed explosive monster on offense and key returning players on defense are big reasons why Oregon figures to be a dominant team not only in the Pac but on the national level as well.

Year in and year out the Ducks put together a team that’s packed with incredible athletes at every skill position on the field. Over the past few seasons, we have had the luxury of seeing great athletes such as LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, Dion Jordan, Lavasier Tuinei, David Paulson, Darron Thomas… the list of those who have put on shows for us under the lights at Autzen Stadium goes on and on.

With a new season on the horizon, there are many questions to be asked and many comparisons to be made, and with the star-studded offense of the Oregon Ducks it makes me wonder: who has the best trio of skill players in college football?

Marcus Mariota

Courtesy of Kevin Cline Photography

Marcus Mariota at the command

When I say trio of skill players, I mean, who has the dominant, three-headed monster that fans adore and opposing defenses hate to line up against?  Teams like Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M (although the board at Las Vegas is frozen on this one) return explosive players and have glorious expectations heading into the 2013 season, but when it comes to offense, nobody does it better than the Oregon Ducks.

Marcus Mariota, DeAnthony Thomas, and Josh Huff form the three heads of this beast for the 2013 Oregon Ducks.

The Ducks are a team that loves to run the football and with that comes the first head of our beast, running back DeAnthony Thomas.  Thomas has made more than a name for himself in the college football world with his blazing speed and fabled cutting ability.  Last season, when he wasn’t in the tazer role, Thomas sat behind Barner at the running back position.  Now that he is the go-to guy in the backfield, expect the number of touches to increase.

The scariest thing about Thomas is that he has the potential to score every time he touches the ball.  In his time at Oregon, Thomas has averaged a touchdown every 8.5 times he touches the football.  That is almost unheard of!

Now for the brains of the this animal, quarterback Marcus Mariota.  The discreet play of Mariota has become his trademark because of his calm and collected posture on the field. In such an up-tempo offense, Mariota uses what I like to call the “quick but don’t hurry” method of play, and it shows in the high percentage of completed passes – 68.5% to be exact.  After an excellent freshman season where he passed for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns while adding 752 yards and five scores on the ground, the young superstar heads into his sophomore campaign as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.

The last third of the trio for the Ducks is Mariota’s main target on the outside, Josh Huff.  Huff is in the middle of this monster, authenticating great playmaking ability and tenacity, but so far he has done it under the radar.  He has played a vital role in the Ducks’ offense since 2010, and though his numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, he led the Oregon receivers in receptions and receiving yards last season.

De'Anthony Thomas (6) and Josh Huff (1) line up for a play against USC last season.

Kevin Cline

De’Anthony Thomas (6) and Josh Huff (1) line up for a play against USC last season.

Huff’s greatest strength is that we can rely on him to catch the important passes that make or break a game.  He has the perfect combination of soft hands and athleticism to be a welcoming option in third and long situations.  Oregon doesn’t need Huff to be great in order to succeed, but if he puts up elite numbers, which he is certainly capable of doing, the Ducks will have something even SEC defenses would come to fear.

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