Oregon’s All-Underrated Team for 2015: Offense

With Crosby and Royce Freeman, the future certainly looks bright for the Ducks.

As a flagship program in college’s premier sport, football, Oregon faces consistent media scrutiny. If a team is able to find success, it is expected to maintain it. Oregon is no different, and in a year when the team loses arguably the best player it has seen this century, members of the media are eager to write Oregon off.

ESPN.com releases an annual ranking of the Top 100 players in college football, which it creates from a group of 43 voters who rank each player on a scale of 1-10. The scores are averaged and players are then ranked. Oregon, theoretically college football’s second-best program last season, didn’t have a player in the Top 10. It didn’t have a player in the Top 20. Heck, it didn’t have a player in the Top 38. Royce Freeman was the first Duck to make the list, tied at 39th with Florida State RB Dalvin Cook. You know, the guy who fumbled twice in the Rose Bowl, a game that FSU lost by 39 points. Hey, that’s the same as Cook’s ranking!

My reaction after Mariota left..


My reaction after Mariota left …

Ignoring the fact that ESPN writers don’t know their head from a hole in the ground, this is still a continuous theme for Oregon’s 2015 team. According to those outside of Eugene, without Marcus Mariota, the Ducks are apparently some nobody team that will miss out on the playoffs and make a New Year’s Bowl – if it’s lucky.

Well, here at FishDuck.com, we know a little better than that. Not only will the Ducks bounce back and have similar success to last season, they could be even better. With some Ducks flying higher than others, here are the players other media outlets refuse to acknowledge.


QB: Ty Griffin

[Ed. note 1: Ty was moved to the secondary days after this piece was written.]

Everyone knows about Vernon Adams, and his mathematical prowess. Jeff Lockie is another household name in Eugene. But how about Ty Griffin? No one is talking about this guy, but they should be. This dude’s brother is some kid named Taj Griffin. Heard of him? You know, the speedster who the inimitable FishDuck himself dubbed as the next closest thing to DAT that he’s seen walk through Autzen’s gates.

Taj Griffin has the closest highlight video I’ve seen compared to DeAnthony Thomas, and while he does not have the millisecond-cuts that Thomas has, Griffin instead has this stunning ability to cut 90 degrees and explode in acceleration like no back in video I’ve seen. He has been healing from an injury and even in February, while still in rehab, coach Helfrich said Taj was the fastest player on the team! (That is a pretty high bar!) – Charles Fischer

Ty shares the same blood as this guy, and he’s a QB with a cannon of an arm! He’s raw, very raw, but if he can improve his footwork and his accuracy, the kid could be one of the freakiest athletes Oregon has seen in a long time. Now that’s saying something!

RB: Royce Freeman

Look, I could’ve thrown out a name like Kani Benoit or Tony Brooks-James to make you uber Duck fans happier, but the truth is that Freeman remains the most underrated RB on the roster. He ran for nearly 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman, and he didn’t fully get the starting nod until Week 7. That’s disgustingly productive. What was more impressive was Freeman’s uncanny ability to learn, pardon my pun, on the run.

After the loss to Arizona, arguably Freeman’s worst game of the season to that point, the Freshie posted eight consecutive games with 98 rushing yards or more, failing to find the end zone in just two of those contests. He wasn’t just the best RB for the Ducks, he was the best RB in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the country. Expect big, big things from Rolls Royce this year.

One of Oregon's most dynamic play makers is back, and he's hungry.

Craig Strobeck

One of Oregon’s most dynamic play makers is back, and he’s hungry.

WR: Bralon Addison

Remember this guy? Funny story, Addison and Devon Allen were in my Writing 122 class in the fall and, at the time, both were dealing with injuries, and all I could think was, “A year from now you two are going to run this offense.” Well, here we are now, almost a full year later, and Addison is healthy and ready to do just that.

As a sophomore he was insanely productive, averaging nearly 15 ypc and nabbing 7 TDs as Mariota’s second-favorite target behind Josh Huff. Addison is back and as explosive as ever. And with him in an emerging young cast of studs at the WR position, look for Byron Marshall to make the switch back to RB to help ease Freeman’s load.

OL: Zach Okun

There’s no other way to say it. This guy is freaking huge. He’s a freshman and he’s already the third-heaviest guy on the team, weighing in at a stout 310 pounds. But here’s the deal … he can move. He’s got quick feet on his pulls, he drives guys back with good balance and his weight back, and he can get out in the open field and create a path for backs with ease. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been truly excited watching a highlight reel for an OL before, but just do me a favor and at least watch the first three plays in the video below and tell me your heart doesn’t start racing at the possibility of this guy anchoring our line for the next three seasons (or more).

Author’s Note: I apologize for the black space underneath the video. If I knew how to remove it I would, but the video is just too freaking sweet to take out all together. 

Can’t Decide a Position But Want to Talk About Him Anyway Because This Kid Is THAT Good, and Yes I Know He’s Listed as a DB: Charles Nelson

Look, I don’t really have words to describe what a freak of an athlete Charles Nelson is, so instead I’ll let the Oregon coaches do it for me:

“They can move a guy to offense and say, ‘Run a deep ball.’ Anybody can do that. On defense he’s got to get off a block. He’s got to make an open-field tackle. He’s got to play press coverage. He’s got to read combination routes and be in the right place … But if anyone can, that kid can do it.” — John Neal (Defensive Backs Coach) via Oregon Live

Oh come now, John, I’m sure he can’t be THAT good …

“He has proven that he can be an immediate microwave situation in jumping in and playing on offense … He’s a fantastic football player. He’s fast. He’s smart and he just loves playing football.” — Mark Helfrich (head coach) via Oregon Live

Surely, you must be exaggerating …

“Charles is one of the best football players I’ve been around in a long time. He can do almost anything you ask him to on the field.” — Scott Frost (offensive coordinator) via USA TODAY

I may or may not be in love with Charles Nelson. Platonically, of course.

Kevin Cline

I may or may not be in love with Charles Nelson. Platonically, of course.

Never mind. I give up. The kid is an absolute athletic freak, end of story. I know Nelson is technically a defensive back now and, therefore, shouldn’t be on the offense all-underrated team, but there’s simply no way he won’t have the ball in his hands next season on offense. He’s just too talented  not to play both ways.

Now why is he underrated, though? Because, plain and simple, I believe Nelson might not only be one of the best players on this team, but actually one of the best players in the entire country (he was ranked 92nd by ESPN). Any player who can go both ways while being considered one of the best at his position regardless of which side of the ball he’s on is special. Watch out, Pac-12 teams, Charles Nelson is coming for you.

Stay tuned to FishDuck.com for the conclusion of this two-part series, where I will outline the all-underrated defensive team.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Caleb Couturie

Caleb Couturie

Caleb is a sophomore at the University of Oregon intending to double major in Journalism and Sports Management. He is the Managing Editor for FishDuck.com, along with being a lifetime Saints and San Francisco Giants fan, as Caleb fell in love with sports at a young age and developed that love into a passion for sports analysis. He is looking forward to cheering on the Ducks throughout his career at Oregon, and is always willing to talk sports with any fellow fan.


    Caleb it’s called HATE, Jealousy, envy and all these people want to see Oregon fail. ESPN I seriously never put any stock in what they have to say because it’s ridiculous. Like for instance when has anyone heard a comment like He’s too nice to be a starting QB. The NCAA didn’t want Oregon in that Final and it’s really too bad Oregon decided to play their worst game of the season and lose like they did. Oregon should still if healthy represent PAC 12 in the Championship and in the playoff again.

    • Caleb

      Second worst* MaiTai. Ohio State beat us fair and square. We beat ourselves vs. Arizona. And honestly the WSU game wasn’t pretty either.


    Its awesome exactly how he plays and he does it with confidence. I wish every Duck player had his attitude and love for the game. He has no fear of any opponent and this is what I mean about players drive and intimidation.


    Thank you Caleb!

  • Mike Green

    the Okun tape reminded me of Armstead’s high school tape…

    Oregon needs some BEEF !!! in order to take that final step

  • Mike Green

    some of my under-rateds on offense are:

    Johnny Mundt — had one great game in 2 yrs – but showed he can at least dominate the passing side of being a TE

    Benoit — the kind of player you hate to tackle – because it hurts you more than it hurts him — against good teams, the line does not always open holes and needs a RB to break a tackle or two

    Lockie — a solid backup QB — who doesn’t seem to be as emotionally volitile as Brian Bennet — I’d like to see the Ducks play the backup QB more often — it makes for better juju & limits possiblities of qb1 getting hurt

    Hegarty — you need a stud at the center position

    Byron Marshall — he plays like a superstar at WR – and stays healthy and always produces against the better teams

    and finally, Vern — he did it all – for 3 seasons – he is proven to be as good as the last 3 heisman winners, yet only press on him is for his math test

    • Caleb

      I only got to choose one per position but these are all viable candidates!

  • duckusucker

    Underrated? I guess it’s relative, but those guys you mention all have had stellar high school careers and have impressed the Duck coaches from the get-go. Freeman, not long after Mariota got his Heisman was already being touted as our “next” serious candidate. Bralon has been called the best WR in the PAC-12 by some writers. Nelson has had the term “freak athlete” used so much he should go ahead and change his name.
    Aidan Schneider.
    Ivan Faulhaber.
    Taylor Alie.
    THOSE are guys unknown to fans when they walked on and have shocked coaches w/their improvement.
    Schneider, for the second season, is our FG and PA kicker.
    Faulhaber is on the 2-deep as an OL.
    Alie starts as holder and is fighting Lockie for back up QB.