The Ducks begin their season with an interesting ‘tune up’ game versus the Nicholls State Colonels from Thibodaux, Louisiana. The Colonels’ win-loss record over the past couple three years isn’t impressive, however the team boasts three great players that could have big days if the Ducks don’t come to play. Let’s examine what to watch out for as Oregon fans!
The first is running back Marcus Washington, No. 44, (above) a big and surprisingly fast runner. Typically you will find him as the lone set back and from there he takes his read from the middle linebacker as he moves laterally with the pitch. If the MLB moves around the DE, then Washington runs between the tackle and guard. If the MLB stays home, he then runs wide (with blocking help from the two wide receivers on his side).
The next player (above) on our hip hop hit list is No. 85, Nick Scelfo. The big TE for Nicholls State is a 6-4, 235 lb. chunk of beef. Scelfo is not just a blocking tight end but is also effective at running routes and catching passes through the middle of the defense. His stats include 22 receptions and 300 receiving yards, with an average of 13.6 yards per catch and two touchdown receptions. He ranked second in the Southland Conference for tight ends in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
The Ducks can counter this by playing tough, “in their face” man-to-man defense on this talented tight end.
The third on our list is linebacker, No. 25, Chris Bermond. This 6-1, 235 lb. senior is set to break out in the Southland Conference, as last year he was second on the team in tackles. Bermond was a factor against all of the Colonels’ opponents. Even in the Oregon State game, where the Colonels suffered a 77-3 loss, Bermond had nine tackles and a TFL. The Colonels are not afraid to load the box, as you can see in the above screen shot of the OSU game.
The Ducks, (now without Kenjon Barner) will utilize De’Anthony Thomas for more receiving touches than in the past couple of years, I believe. DAT’s numbers have been pretty good and this year they should be great as he becomes more of a primary focus of the offense. Each of the past two years, DAT has had 18 TDs and last year they consisted of 11 rushing, five receiving and two returns. I project that he will double – or very nearly double – those numbers this year.
Above is an example of how DAT can be utilized, as we see KB heading for the north forty (sideline) in the Fiesta Bowl, which pulls the middle linebacker out with him. With one of the two wide outs (see the bottom of the screen shot) heading downfield to help clear out that side, the other receiver comes in to either get the ball or help block for DAT (in the red circle). You will notice the large red square, below, where the defense is nearly cleared out.
Once DAT gets the ball, he makes the first man miss and then tows seven Wildcats into the end zone. KSU didn’t have an answer for this. I certainly don’t think the Colonels will have one, either.
While the Colonels have some talented players and a very talented head coach, the fact that the vast majority of their assistant coaches are in their first year and none of the coaches has been with the program longer than four years, will be telling in the final score. I don’t mean to disrespect the Colonels or their fine program, but the Ducks could probably start their two’s and three’s and still score at will.
With time and coaching maturity, I think the Colonels could become one of the FCS’s better schools. Head Coach Stubbs has a long history of innovative offensive coaching to anchor the program, and Nicholls State is a program we might see in the FCS playoffs, beating the pants off of bigger programs in years to come.
It just won’t be this year and it certainly won’t be against the Ducks.
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