We love Oregon football gossip, as that is the basis of most message boards where fans share their opinions of current and incoming players for the Ducks. As FishDuck, I get the privilege to talk to small college and high school coaches around the nation on a regular basis. They might know a coach who attended a practice, or know another coach of a player at Oregon. They might just be Oregon football junkies learning our offense, and by studying our games develop opinions about our players and team.
It IS just their opinions, but their views have been correct so much more often than we schmucks who are just fans and don’t teach the game to others as they do. These coaches range from New York to Texas, and from West Virginia to Hawaii, but they do wish to keep their identities quiet on this input. So — I offer this football gossip as if it was my opinion, and you can discuss or attack from there.
“Vernon Adams will have a better statistical year than Marcus Mariota last year. He will complete a higher percentage of passes with more yards per completion at Oregon than ever seen before.”
Whoa! Better than Marcus? He was patient with me as he offered his explanation as to why: “Marcus often threw the ball a little late to the receivers, and they had to wait a bit for the ball, and thus had a nice completion, but not as much YAC (Yards after completion) as if he had timed the pass better so that the WR did not have to pause.”
“Vernon Adams is a more accurate passer who will hit wideouts in stride more often, which will produce more explosion plays, and YAC will go upwards impressively. Oregon’s play-action does create openings for receivers, and Adams can capitalize on that much more than what he had to work with at Eastern Washington.
“Think about the games against two Pac-12 opponents in Oregon State and Washington; he had no running game to balance the EWU offense, and everybody knew he was going to be throwing the ball just about every play. Yet he made plays and threw for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in those conditions? This quarterback is a big-time player at any level.
“When Adams has the very real threat to an opposing defense of a running game with Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner to keep the defense in the box?” (The coach is shaking his head) “He has not experienced his top-end potential yet. Give him those weapons for balance in the offense, and no one knows how good he can become.”
What about running the zone read, coach? “He will do fine with it, but remember Vernon does not have the speed of Marcus Mariota, but he is more elusive than Mariota in the open field. He is very Russell Wilsonish…and it is almost spooky. They are both small, accurate playmakers who wear the number “3”and use good judgment to help their teams win.”
A coach offered his view of Charles Nelson going to cornerback as, “a bunch of young corners just got passed by Nelson. McGraw, Seisay, Oliver, and maybe even Springs just got passed by Charles as he looks natural at corner, as if he had played it every practice for years.” (A coach got to view them at a spring practice and this opinion was based upon just that one viewing.)
The coach continued, ”Watch his tackling form on special teams. You will see better technique than some acclaimed starters of last year. He is a natural who will flourish and become one of the best corners ever at the University of Oregon.”
It is interesting listening to coaches talk about the correct positions for players and how their progress can surprise everyone. One coach felt that Henry Mondeaux came to Oregon as a tight end and linebacker/defensive end prospect, but has grown out of nearly all those positions. “Look for him to be playing some nose tackle as he is up to 290 pounds and has the quickness to be playing inside.” That made me pause thinking about that athleticism in the middle. Henry could make an impact if he can master the new position.
Speaking of nose tackle — the subject of incoming freshman Rex Manu came up with a contact in the islands and he told me that the short description of this young man was, “unblockable.” ”You have to remember, Charles, that most of the linemen playing in Hawaii are Polys, (Hawaiian, Samoan,etc) and they are all big and talented. Yet among them he was unblockable.”
I pointed out that we have some nose tackles in upperclassmen, and I hope he is open to redshirting?
“You didn’t hear me, Charles….I said he was unblockable! He will be playing …”
Wow … was all that juicy enough for you? I do offer all the disclaimers as before and while it is just their opinions — I’ve learned that these wise educators of the game have insight that is usually more accurate than those on a typical message board (mine included). I hope you had fun and learned a few items as I did, and this new Gossip Column might be a new article on FishDuck.com!
Top Photo from Oregonian Video