Oregon’s program was successful early on in the season thanks to the vast array of new and returning contributors on offense, but this abundance of variety also had points of faltering in recent outings. Not having that “go to” player leaves the offense guessing as much as the defense on what they should run in a make-or-break situation, and potentially could be the major fault of a system that has great potential, but has previously led to unnecessary losses.
Having a go to skill position player seems to recently have a connotation of being a weakness, as some may feel that the team is too dependent on that player’s role. For those who just saw Jaylen Waddle go down for almost the entire season and leave teammate Devonta Smith to step up in a massive way and win the Heisman Trophy, I can assure you, depending on one wideout’s contributions is not a weakness.
It’s even elevated Smith’s media buzz all the way up to being considered a good option at second overall for the New York Jets. Although Alabama’s success may be an unfair comparison to the Ducks, the point still stands for what the need at the position means to Oregon’s program.
I feel in 2021 the Ducks should make an active effort to feature a receiver more prevalently. I understand the lacking production in the passing game for perimeter receivers in 2020 due to a new quarterback and offensive system, but this needs to change in 2021, even if it’s with a freshman quarterback. The running back job is all but set in stone for Travis Dye next season as the “feature” back, if we can even ever call it that, and that leaves a great opportunity in Joe Moorhead’s offense for a receiver to emerge and earn a high volume of targets.
2021 is a crucial season for the Ducks program and head coach Mario Cristobal, and there’s a lot at stake for the future of what the Ducks’ image is on the national stage. Players going to the draft early and having first round implications are a strong nod back in the right direction to our 2010-2014 series of great seasons, and could potentially earn the Ducks enough buzz to get a spot in the College Football Playoff sooner rather than later.
To get there, however, I feel this essential growth to establishing a key contributor on the perimeter of our versatile offensive attack is necessary to be successful.
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For 2021, I’m going to take a longshot on junior wide receiver Mycah Pittman. His extremely limited production in 2020 may not be a strong indicator against his potential to be a true no.1 wideout, but the flashes we did see indicate that perhaps with a premier accurate deep passer like incoming freshman Ty Thompson could help him take the leap. This would bode very well for the following season with Pittman and Thompson, as Pittman would enter his senior season on good terms with a sophomore quarterback that he has a strong rapport with.
Even if it doesn’t end up being Pittman, a star desperately needs to arise on the perimeter for the Ducks to materialize the offensive attack of an able-minded Moorhead’s vision. The recruiting is done, the players are there, and the quarterback is soon to be ready. Our Beloved Ducks just need to make it happen.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Alex Heining is a third-year student at the University of Oregon. He’s working towards a bachelor of arts degree as an English major and media studies minor in journalism. Growing up in the Los Angeles area of southern California, Alex ended up a Duck through family ties, a quality football program, and the beautiful green of Lane County. Currently finishing his first science fiction novel, he wants to end up in the sports world of journalism on the west coast. Particularly, covering high school football, recruiting commits, and all things Ducks.
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