How High Can Dillingham’s Ducks Fly?

DazeNconfused Editorials

Oregon OC Kenny Dillingham begins his first campaign with the Oregon Ducks in 2022, so just how good can this Ducks’ offense be? (After all, Dillingham fielded the fourth best offense in FBS while at Memphis.) We can begin to answer that question by looking at Dillingham’s scheme and the players he has at his disposal.

The Scheme: Spread-Em-Out

Dillingham will use a pro-style spread offense and play fast. He will use personnel groupings to create one-on-one matchups in all parts of the field. That includes one-on-one matchups on the perimeter, and on deep shot plays downfield. Dillingham is a believer of getting his explosive skill guys into space and letting them make plays.

He will also employ warp speed tempo after a big play, something we Duck fans haven’t seen in years. Dillingham will lead a mostly balanced run-pass mix with a tad bit more run. He will also ride the hot player or keep exposing a matchup he is winning, be it in the run or pass game.

Alex Forsyth shows his mean streak as he blocks to the end of the play as a Ducks running back falls in the endzone behind him for a touchdown.

Loaded Roster 

The Ducks’ offense is as talented of a roster they have ever fielded from top to bottom. Dillingham has all the pieces to make his scheme go up and down the field. Oregon’s offensive will see a huge benefit solely from the fact that, unlike Joe Moorhead who was shackled by Mario Cristobal, Dillingham will be unleashed!

Forsyth is the Leader of Offensive Line

Oregon has a veteran offensive line that runs seven deep with solid game experience and is rated as one of the top units in FBS. Alex Forsyth provides leadership not only for the room; that leadership extends to the entire team. Forsyth’s role bodes well for the QBs who don’t have to carry the entire leadership burden, especially if one of the young QBs finds himself thrust into the starting role.

Receivers Are Better than Last Year

Troy Franklin and Dont’e Thornton are just short of being five-star recruits, providing the most talented pair of Duck starting receivers. The rest of the room is filled with blue-chips in Seven McGee, Kris Hutson, Josh Delgado, Chase Cota, Isaah Crocker and incoming freshman Kyler Kasper.

Seven McGee’s sharp cuts upfield showcase his elite change-of-direction ability.

This is the most talented Ducks group ever, and the production on the field this year will reflect that. Devon Williams, Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd will not be missed.

Cardwell’s a 1,000-Yard Back

RB Byron Cardwell proved as a true freshman last year that he’s going to be a star! Cardwell amassed 417 yards on 61 carries for a 6.8 yards per carry average. It’s obvious Cardwell will go for well over 1,000 yards this season as the featured back for the Ducks.

Sean Dollars, Oregon’s oft-injured redshirt sophomore running back, is looking to stay healthy and have an impactful season. Minnesota transfer Mar’Keise Irving and Western Kentucky transfer Noah Whittington, bring a combined 134 carries for 1,316 yards from last season into the Ducks’ running back room.

Byron Cardwell showed he has a burst last year to break off big runs.

The Verdell-Dye era may be over, but don’t expect any drop in production in the Ducks’ run game.

Tight End Room

Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao were the best pair of true freshmen tight ends I can remember seeing at Oregon. We can expect them to be even better this year as their development continues. Patrick Herbert and Cam McCormick, who have both struggled with injuries in their career, provide key depth.

The QB Room

Bo Nix is the projected starter, but the Auburn transfer hasn’t been very good in his career. Luckily for Nix, in coming to Oregon, he has the best offensive line he’s ever had in front of him. Cardwell gives him a prime-time feature back, while Franklin and Thornton give Nix two future NFL high draft picks to target. The tight ends give him another weapon to use, and the offense has a ton of depth.

Dillingham’s scheme is going to allow Nix to spread the ball around to those skill players while making them defend the whole field. Opposing Pac-12 teams don’t have a read on Dillingham’s offense like they had in the Cristobal era, and the unknown works in the Ducks’ favor.

Those factors should take pressure off Nix, letting him focus on just being a ball distributor so his guys make plays. Additionally, he can improve on protecting the ball, while counting on his defense to win games for the Ducks. This combination should make the game easier for him than it ever was in his first three years of college football. Nix might find the game of college football changing for him this year with the weapons he has, and he might find himself having the most fun of his career.

Along with his athletic ability to escape the pocket, Bo Nix can make all types of off-platform throws.

Top-15 Offense

In 2019, in his one year at Auburn, Dillingham took the Tigers’ offense from No. 48 to No. 28 with his true freshman QB Nix. This Ducks’ offense has more talent than that Auburn team and it won’t have to face as many good defenses as Dillingham and Nix did in the SEC.

The ceiling for this offense, in my opinion, will be 15th in total offense for FBS. That would be a 35-place jump over last year and reflects Nix taking his play to a level higher than he has ever shown. I expect to see the Ducks average 40+ points per game, along with approaching 500 yards of offense.

Do you think Nix can make a jump in his level of play with the high quality of teammates surrounding him? Do you think the Ducks will have a Top 15 offense this year?

Could one of the young QBs end up playing the most this year? Share your thoughts, Duck fans, in the OBD FORUM!

Portland, Oregon
Top Photo by Oregon Ducks Twitter

Natalie Liebhaber, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in SLC, Utah.

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