As I sat in a restaurant in New Orleans last night, I’m pretty sure I was the only one beginning to seethe from watching ESPN as the the BREAKING NEWS crawl went across the screen. Then I started getting a bit concerned, as I read that Darren Carrington was not going to be able to play in the Championship Game because of a failed drug test. However, the more I thought about it, I began to realize that it’s very simple for Oregon to overcome this loss, they simply need the guy who led them in receiving this season to step up and lead them again in the Championship Game.
In the Rose Bowl it seemed like Oregon had a specific plan to feature guys that FSU had not seen them go to much, such as Carrington, Evan Baylis, and Thomas Tyner. Very much like Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots they decided to feature specific players and a specific style of offense that took advantage of FSU’s weaknesses. Meanwhile, Byron Marshall was used more for misdirection and to draw attention away from Carrington and Baylis. In order for Oregon to adequately deal with the loss of Carrington they are going to have to really feature Marshall in the passing game.
Both as a runner and receiver, Marshall has made huge plays all season long. Yet for some reason Marshall hasn’t had much of a featured roll in the offense since The Civil War. The good thing about this it let Oregon develop some other weapons in the passing game, such as Carrington and Baylis. But with the loss of Carrington, Marshall needs to have a big role in the Championship Game.
Along with Marshall, Evan Baylis needs to build upon his dynamic Rose Bowl performance. Despite only having 4 catches before last week, Baylis was given a chance to shine against FSU and took advantage of it, hauling 6 passes for 73 yards. His real value in the passing game is causing the defense to step up to try and stop him underneath. When FSU tried to do this they wound up leaving Darren Carrington wide open behind the deep coverage. Some combination of the run game and underneath passes to Baylis could very well spring Marshall against Ohio State. The beauty of this is that if the defense doesn’t step up, Oregon has the personnel to rattle of huge gains every play with short passes and the run game. Marshall could also make an impact in the short passing game and run game, on sweeps, screen passes, and even as an option in Zone Read and Triple Option plays.
All in all, the loss of Carrington does hurt, but it is no where near the end of the world for a very talented and well coached team like our beloved Ducks.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline