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?
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?
Los Angeles, California
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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