Since the early days of Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon, the wide receiver has been given a big role. Though Kelly has moved on to the NFL, the now head coach Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost have put a lot of effort into recruiting the best talent at the position, so over time we will see great results.
On August 18, GoDucks.com Editor-in-Chief Rob Moseley released an article entitled, “Stanford has Been Oregon’s Rock at Catching the Rock,” highlighting the incredible first week of practice that Dwayne “Too Tall” Stanford had.
Accentuated by his ability to perform in every area on offense — from blocking to catching the ball — Stanford stood out amongst a group of talented receivers. But is Stanford even the best receiver that the Ducks have to offer this year?
In this same article, Moseley quoted Stanford saying, “I just knew we had a lot of guys coming back, a lot of receivers. I wanted to be one of those guys that the coaches felt like they had to get the ball to.” Stanford’s outstanding first week of practice is great from a fan’s perspective, but he was right when he said a lot of guys are coming back.
With no disrespect to Keanon Lowe, who recently accepted a coaching position with Kelly’s Eagles, as reported by Andrew Grief of OregonLive.com, the Ducks are returning their best receivers from last season. Despite the aforementioned Lowe and TE Pharoah Brown, who is likely to miss the entire 2015/2016 season to finish the recovery from a serious leg injury, the Ducks get back every receiver who caught a TD last season — 33 touchdowns to be exact.
To be returning talent like that is scary, and that’s speaking from an opposing coach’s perspective.
Landscape of the Oregon Ducks Offense
We all know that Thomas Tyner is out for the entire 2015/2016 season after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. And if I, or anyone else on the planet, knew who would be starting at quarterback for the Ducks this season, that would have been reported already. So there are a few question marks heading into this season on offense, but it’s nothing that I would label a massive cause for concern. On the other hand, what might be a cause for concern is the Ducks’ coaching staff figuring out how to use all of the talent on offense that they will have at their disposal.
When I look at the receiving corps for the Ducks, I don’t see any holes. When I look at the receiving corps for the Ducks, I don’t see one aspect of offense from a coaching perspective that they lack.
When I look at the receiving corps for the Ducks, I do see world class speed in Devon Allen; I see ultimate longevity in longtime stud Byron Marshall; and I see ridiculous playmaking ability in Bralon Addison.
And now, you might be wondering about the rest of the guys. “Too Tall” Stanford graces the earth while looking down at everyone from a different stratosphere (he is 6-foot-5), so the Ducks have absurd height on the outside.
Darren Carrington, Jr. adds to the number of playmakers that this team has with his 14 catches, 291 yards, and 3 TD’s in back-to-back games against Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Moreover, Charles Nelson, who might be starting out the year at defensive back for the Ducks, will be of use on offense anytime Helfrich and Frost say so.
When I think about all the information that was just relayed above, I see no holes anywhere. And yes, I already stated that I see no holes with this receiving corps, but I really don’t. There is nothing that these guys can’t do, and more importantly, there is nothing that these guys don’t already have covered. Even if something happens during the season, the “Next Man Up” philosophy that the Ducks hold true to day-in and day-out will prove its worth yet again. But before I go on, I might have forgotten to mention 4-star WR recruits Malik Lovette and Alex Ofodile, two studs who figure to factor in in a big way this season as true freshmen WR’s.
No Mariota? No Problem!
Now, I say this while walking on eggshells, so forgive me if I am being a little too blunt. I love Marcus Mariota as much as that three-year-old who cried while eating cereal in front of his dad when he realized Mariota was not coming back, but I am a realist, and I always try to be a realist. Mariota is gone, making $millions$ in the NFL, and I wish him nothing but the best. From Eugene, we have what has been called a “A Two-Duck Race” between Eastern Washington University transfer Vernon Adams, Jr. and longtime Mariota backup Jeff Lockie.
Without Mariota, things will be much different. But my main purpose for putting this piece together was to enlighten fans about the absurd talent that this team has. Whether it’s Lockie or Adams, or some guy who has never played football before, this offense — with the way it is engineered — is one that almost anyone can succeed in.
The offensive line looks solid with Notre Dame transfer center Matt Hegarty and returning left tackle Tyler Johnstone, who has been practicing very well after missing all of last season with knee injuries. And in my biased opinion, Royce Freeman is the second-best running back in the country behind Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. Having Freeman back with all the valuable experience he gained last year as a true freshman will be nothing short of amazing.
While some things may be unknown heading into this season, the amount of talent certainly is not. And while I thank Kelly for all the wonderful things he did for this program, he never put together a receiving corps like this one. As if the Ducks needed help soaring, they have a plethora of big-play wide receivers to help them do just that.
BOLD CLAIM WARNING: This is the best receiving corps in Ducks history.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline