Injuries happen every year, to every team. In a game as violent as football, players are injured in every scrimmage and every game. Most of the time these injuries are bumps, bruises, stingers and sprains. But the teams that contend for National Championships are either able to weather those injuries or manage to escape major injuries to key players. Oregon is now in the former category.
As virtually all Duck fans now know, wide receiver Bralon Addison went down with torn ACL, and could be done for the season. And while Addison getting injured isn’t as catastrophic as, say, Marcus Mariota going down, he is still the number one receiving option for the Ducks and was a player many believed was on the cusp of stardom. Couple that with Eric Dungy’s transfer, Oregon is now looking decidedly thinner at the wide receiver position.
Not all is lost, however. With a solid crew of running backs, talented tight ends and a nucleus of young but talented receivers, Oregon should be able to absorb the loss of Addison and still contend for an NC.
What they can’t do, now that Addison is gone, is make a lot of mistakes. Addison was athletic, had great hands and a nose for the ball, and while those attributes will be missed, it is his skills as a blocker that will be felt the most.
Oregon’s receivers are expected to block, and block well, and that isn’t something that can be taught in a few years. Most high school wideouts come to Oregon needing to learn how to block, and it isn’t something that necessarily comes easily to young players. At Oregon, wide receiver blocking is a vital part of the schemes they run, and Addison’s abilities will be missed.
If there is one thing that Oregon has demonstrated over the past six years it is their ability to weather injuries and show their depth. Every time a player goes down and Duck Nation utters a collective groan, there almost always seems to be some young stud ready to step in and take his place — either on offense or on defense.
Here, then, is another opportunity for players such as Keanon Lowe, Dwayne Stanford, B.J. Kelley and Chance Allen to step up and into the spotlight. Maybe this even opens the door for the recent addition of basketball standout Johnathan Loyd — a stellar high school return man, as well.
Oregon has proved itself resilient over the years. Last year when DeAnthony Thomas went down, may people predicted that Oregon would bog down without his presence, but that prediction proved groundless. The Ducks were just as prolific and unstoppable as they were with Thomas in the lineup.
Without Addison, Oregon has certainly lost a big piece of the offensive puzzle, but there are so many weapons on this team, that his injury shouldn’t slow the Ducks down. New players will step up, as always, and Oregon will continue to be the offensive juggernaut the country knows and loves — or hates — depending.
Addison will be missed, but his loss isn’t the end for the Duck’s title hopes.
In fact, it may just be the beginning.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck