Oregon’s incredible depth has been one of the biggest storylines of the summer. The unbelievably deep position of wide receiver caused Alex Ofodile to redshirt when many assumed he would be make an impact straight away after enrolling back in January. The loss of RB Thomas Tyner for the entire 2015/2016 puts a small wrench in this offense, but it won’t be its undoing. Royce Freeman, who is drawing early comparisons to Marshawn Lynch, is more than prepared to improve on an outstanding freshman year and work to bring the Ducks their second Heisman winner in two years.
To this point, we’ve talked about depth only in hypothetical situations. The season gets underway tomorrow, and the time for “what if” scenarios is over. Now, the time has come to look at how that depth will translate into production in 2015.
As of now, it looks as though star TE Pharaoh Brown will not take the field in 2015, leaving a sizeable hole in an otherwise prolific offense. Evan Baylis is slated to start Saturday with Mundt playing behind him. Baylis performed well in place of Brown last year, but his spot is far from secure with Mundt ready to pounce on any opportunity that comes his way.
There were rumblings about Mundt’s breakout potential heading into last season but Brown’s dominance kept him off the field. He enjoyed a decent amount of success as a freshman, catching 3 TDs and 16 passes for 281 yards — making him the team’s sixth-best receiver.
Baylis may have secured the job to start, but don’t take your eyes off Mundt, the promising junior, as he looks to repeat the success of his freshman season. Mundt’s 5 catches for 121 yards and 2 TDs against Tennessee in 2013 further proves that he has the ability to compete at the highest level.
To give you an idea of how good Griffin could be, take note that he is one of seven running backs on Oregon’s roster and is the only true freshman of the bunch. The decision not to have him redshirt is as much a product of his talent as a question of the players in front of him on the depth chart. What’s more, Griffin tore his ACL early on in his senior year in high school, and is considered one of the biggest threats on the Ducks just one year later.
Steve Summers reported that offensive coordinator Scott Frost referred to Griffin as a “home run threat.” Jeff Lockie told The Register-Guard that Griffin is, ”super-freaky talented” and also praised his speed, an excellent complement to the beating that Freeman will be giving opposing defenses.
Questions surrounding the RBs in front of him help his case even more. Tony Brooks-James has a high ceiling, but failed to perform to his potential in the spring game, carrying the ball four times but racking up zero yards.
Kani Benoit poses a legitimate threat to Griffin’s field time as he had as many chances as Griffin in the spring game (eight) and carried for nearly twice as many yards, but Griffin won’t be riding the bench as a true freshman. Don’t sleep on the fastest player on the fastest offense in the country.
If the Ducks lack depth at any position, it’s at defensive back. Arrion Springs and Ugo Amadi promise to provide some show-stopping defense, but with a full slate of high-powered offenses, they cannot shoulder the entire load in the secondary.
Griffin, a redshirt sophomore who transferred to Oregon from Georgia Tech, can provide that crucial replacement. In the same vein as his younger brother, Griffin’s speed and athletic ability have caught the eyes of the coaches.
We shouldn’t expect Griffin to start producing straight away, but his speed and size (6′ 0″, 200 lbs.) are a lethal combination that will give him ample opportunity to earn his wings. His ability to handle the responsibility of the quarterback role should encourage fans that he will grasp the defensive concepts quickly and help to fill one of the few holes in Oregon’s organizational depth.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline