The Rich Get Richer: Kirk Merritt and The Ducks’ Run Game

Noah Smith FishWrap, FishWrap Archive

Monday night the Oregon Ducks won big time by getting four star athlete Kirk Merritt to commit to play college ball at Oregon. Merritt, a versatile prospect who can play WR and RB, adds another threat to a backfield already full of them. With the addition of Merritt to a backfield already boasting Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall, Oregon’s run game should be downright beastly next year. This overflowing of riches at the RB position will really come in handy while Mark Helfrich & Co. are breaking in Oregon’s next QB.

Good Luck Mark

Steve Francis

Good luck, Mark!

Having these RBs available will help the Ducks’ next QB in a twofold manner, as all four of these guys have the skills to be deadly weapons on checkdown passes as well as when carrying the ball. The challenge for Helfrich and Scott Frost is going to be devising creative ways to get all of these playmakers on the field at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oregon use some wildcat concepts more often, with Tyner and/or Freeman in the backfield and Marshall and Merritt in the slot. Purely speculation of course, but that’s what having this many good RBs makes me think about.

Royce Freeman Likely To Be The Number One Back Next Year

Kevin Cline

Freeman is likely to be the No. 1 back next year.

At the same time, Oregon might want to consider red shirting Merritt his first year, to give a year to adjust to being in college and to Oregon’s practices. This would make a lot of sense to me, because with the sheer amount of RBs Oregon already has available, it might serve the Ducks better to sit him until there is room for him to get carries. Unless Merritt is going to come in and be Leonard Fournette, he is probably not going to steal carries away from Freeman and Tyner.

Regardless of whether they play him this year or next, Merritt will certainly be an asset for our Ducks at some point in the future. At the same time, with or without him, Oregon’s run game is going to be something to fear next season, and with even merely decent QB play they will be in contention for a championship again.

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