Is CJ Verdell Poised for an Offensive Takeover?

Alex Heining Editorials 32 Comments

In case you missed the biggest win for Our Beloved Ducks since the Rose Bowl in 2019, CJ Verdell and the entire offense had an absolutely stellar day running the ball against an elite Ohio State defense. Verdell was able to consistently get out in open space on the edges and stroll into the end zone three different times over the course of the game. With teammate Travis Dye contributing heavily in his complementary role, Oregon looked great with the 2021 one-two punch back in action.

The question that remains for me is what to expect of the offense the rest of the year under offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead: how hard will this offense commit to establishing a dominant rushing attack, and will Verdell lead it as an every-down back?

Tom Corno

CJ Verdell fought for every yard all through the 2019 season.

At least for this Saturday, I expect to see a lot of experimental offense. In what should be an easier matchup (it’s hard to say that after years of inconsistency screaming at me, so I hope we can survive one week of jinxes) against Stony Brook, there will be ample opportunity for our notably younger team to get some much needed playing time, and see a few players take their first snaps (Ty Thompson, perhaps?).

If that’s the case, I don’t expect to see much of Verdell past the first half. Outside of these sort of “tune up” games, however, this may be the Verdell we saw years ago. The back who can break a game open at a moments notice (see the 77-yarder from this past weekend), and can also be relied on as more of an every-down back. Prior to the 2021 season, Verdell was ranked ninth all-time in rushing, and should move up to the top five in his final season.

But before we can jump to conclusions, I think we need one more look at the Ducks’ offense against a formidable opponent before we can determine if it will be led by Verdell in the run game throughout the season. If the Ducks can stay run-centric and focus on opening lanes for CJ, I can see Anthony Brown leading the Ducks to a much more successful year as more of a “game manager” than a quarterback looking to make the big play every down.

What do you think? Is this the perfect offense for a back like Verdell to take over, or will it sustain the lack of “superstar” attention that other college offenses can get with a similar player? Where do you see CJ finishing this year on the all-time rushing list at Oregon?

Alex Heining
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Kevin Cline

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No. 2 Quarterback Decided?

In the local Eugene paper this morning…the article stated that Cristobal and the staff know who is now the No. 2 QB and that it is “in-house knowledge.”

And that we will find out who it is just prior to game-time, as this player will see the field on Saturday!

Ty Thompson, Anthony Brown and Jay Butterfield in 2021 practice_UO Athletics.jpg

The question of the next qb at Oregon is beginning to get some light. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. The 3 guys beneath AB are all very good.

It seems it is between Ty and Butterfield? If Cristobal goes with Ty it will be interesting to see who sticks around. Interesting times watching the 2022 qb story unfold this season.

We have a good recruit coming in with Tanner, but we need to have at least 2 qb’s ready to play next season. Can we keep two of these guys and not have a transfer portal frenzy?

I would think with all of these guys being freshman they could stick it out next season and still have 2 to play somewhere else. Tough job Cristobal is playing with this year, but he seems to be handling it well so far!

SeattleDuck

My money is on either Ty or Butterfield. I like Ashford but given that his attention is split between football and baseball, I feel like his development will be slower than the other two over the course of the year.

It’ll be interesting to see who’s QB2, as AB just showed against tOSU, you don’t need to be a barnburner on the run to win….just need to be a threat that can scamper 10-20 yards when you pull the ball. Any of the 3 freshman QBs can do that.

oregon111

the RBs that I have seen that impress me are the one from Iowa St and the one from Minnesota who got hurt.

Both of those can break tackles and get major yards after contact.

Verdell just goes down after contact.

But he plays on a spread team – so the JOB of the team is to get him the ball out in space. And stop calling so many dives up the middle.

Verdell is a very good spread RB, but he is not a player who can do it all on his own.

He is fast, but does not make defenders miss. If het gets a crease, he is gone.

I get tired of how he gets so much credit for busting runs when he is not even touched.

And how he takes the blame for not getting first downs when running into 9 defenders stacked up at the line.

Verdell is a player who needs the ball out in space. He is not taking over anything. He is a roll player. He needs the right kind of plays called for him.

A FishDuck Question for you ALL?

A great comment by duck.cz pointed out how the 9:00 AM start really helped us have TONS of eyeballs on this game. Agreed, but these Thursday night games and Friday night games are often boring match-ups.

Why doesn’t the Pac-12 schedule games to start on at 4:00 PM on both Thursday and Friday nights? For most teams and their fans–it would only be an occasional weekday game, but it would start at 7:00 PM in the East and we would have a TON of eyeballs watching the Pac-12.

I know–lots of downsides with the upsides, but I am curious as to your thoughts?

Fans 2019_Craig Strobeck.jpg
Annie

I suppose one downside would be for people who work 9-5 jobs, getting to the game late (not everyone can just take off whenever they want to), plus parking could be a problem at 4 pm on a weeknight.

criticalduck

I will point back to what the commish siad in that the Pac needs to highlight the best of the Pac so that we aren’t an afterthought…Putting the best teams on “after dark” is not highlighting the best of the Pac! Place the Huskies and the rest after dark. Keep the best in the forefront!

DanLduck

CJ is clearly the centerpiece of our offense. Every game plan will center on him and the others in that RB room.

His goal for season was 2000 yards. A rather ambitious one. To me it suggests he was feeling healthy, improved, and had an inside track on offensive game plans.

If you count dropped passes, the Pittman pass called back, our passing yards would be close to the run yards, I think be more.
I think the game plan was based on the defense, so we should expect to see some variance in coming games.

Comparing the O-line from week 1 to wk 2, clearly the scheme was different. There were more pulling lineman and double teams that were so effective against that man D.
I think if he stays healthy, CJ will have his best season as a Duck. Most yards, most YPC, most TD’s.
Btw, his success on sat got the attention of 2023 #2 RB who has put Oregon in his top 3!! I’m liking that result!

David Marsh

I think if the offensive line can keep making good holes for Verdell, he certainly has the chance to make a big splash nationally and maybe even make it into the Heisman conversation. The last three years has consisted of him running the pistol plunge right into the teeth of the defense.

This has probably led to him getting dinged up… so keeping him from getting smashed by the defensive line would result him keeping him healthy and giving him big, clear running lanes can result in great things.

teeduke

I like the out-of-the-gate toughness of CJ. Hats off to him for his stellar performance Saturday. But CJ isn’t a shifty back able to get people to miss like Ibraham(sp?) from Minnesota, who carved up the Buckeyes’ defense until he got hurt. I fear CJ’s style will take its toll on him and could lead to injury.

I suspect we will begin to see some of the others in that RB room get some important playing time down the road, not just to spell CJ but to throw different styles at opposing defenses.

Good pondering Alex, and while I think it is great to see such yardage against Ohio State….I wish for a balanced offense that is quite potent. Such as 250 yards rushing, and 300 passing as the threat of both helps both succeed.

So yes, I would love to see big days from Verdell, and no–I do not want the offense centered upon him. My thoughts anyway…

NW777

Sidebar: Regarding traction in The Shoe. Ironically, OSU slipped several times on their home turf. I didn’t notice any slips by the visiting Webfoots. OSU wore Under Armour shoes. To stay somewhat on topic, Verdell is clearly wearing Nikes!!! If I were OSU, I might be rethinking that UA contract.

Krsmqn

Ohio State is a Nike school. Who was wearing UA shoes?

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NW777

I was looking at the picture of the article not realizing it was Utah! So, why did the Buckeyes have footing issues, but not the Ducks? :-)

30Duck
Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Love his response!

David Marsh

Nope.

NW777

On the other hand, the longer this lingers, the longer it affects their recruiting efforts.

30Duck

So far CJ has been an enigma, a lot great runs, but, it seems, even more time on the sideline. Hopefully, he won’t need to see much time on the field against Stony Brook. But the Ducks will need his production against the Buckeyes to be replicated the rest of the season if they are going to finish in the top 4.

Haywarduck

Charlotte Wilder on Twitter. Not sure if this will work, but worth the watch!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I worked and it is a hoot!

I recall a rubber ducky in Blazing Saddles?

Mind is Raging Torrent_YouTube.jpg
NW777

HENRY KATLEMAN’s kickoff tee? LOL

Haywarduck

I hope Verdel plays into a NFL draft choice this year. He deserves a season where he excels and stays healthy. The key will be showing he is an every down RB who can take a beating, as he will on Sundays.

What I would like to see too is a stiff arm developed, and just a little more high stepping so he doesn’t so readily get tripped up. CJ is the back he is though and that is good enough.

The big thing I want to see is Verdel reaching his goal of making the NFL, he deserves it!

On the Dye front I would like to see him used as a receiver out of the backfield. Moorhead has shown a propensity to use a RB out of the backfield and Dye could be an incredible weapon in this role.

A peak at some of the young guys this weekend will be fun. Seven and Trey and others will have to lead us into the future, it will be nice to get a glimpse of that, Go Ducks!

NW777

I wonder if Verdell cradles the ball hard instead of stiff arms due to the unfortunate fumble that lead to the Husky loss. I don’t recall a fumble since that day. His leg strength reminds me of Royce’s, but I think he lacks some speed. That OSU D back ran him down easily on the 77 yd td, but missed the tackle.

DrHilarius

agreed verdell isn’t crazy fast. the defender who caught up to verdell barely affected verdell’s stride, didn’t come close to forcing the fumble, and fell to the ground gasping for air while verdell and brown celebrated in the end zone. i am not complaining.

jrw

That’s a question the O-line can answer. If they continue to play like they did last Saturday, CJ can take over.

Ducked

I’m hopeful the Ducks establish dominance early on Saturday and all those players who vied for spots on the two deep, and didn’t quite make it, get an opportunity to play extensive snaps.

It’s also a great opportunity for those who are banged up to continue to heal and be ready for the Pac-12 opener against Arizona on the 25th.

The target game right now is week number 4 at Stanford, and the Ducks will need to be as close to 100 perfect as possible against a team with an upstart quarterback and a history of playing the Ducks as tough as anyone.

Duck Phan Phil

I’ve always loved CJV, and Coach JoMo always talks about him I’m glowing terms, eg that he’s one of the beat backs in the country. I think he’s our lead back. Of course Baby Dye has his value and CJ has his injury/workload concerns, so Dye will get his touches. But I see CJV getting two-thirds of the carries and more of the crunch time work.