Our Oregon Ducks football program has had some all-time great scorers in the past. Now, with offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham out, we can expect the offense to look a bit different in 2023 with a new touchdown king potentially taking the throne.
Of course, this excludes passing touchdowns, but does not exclude quarterbacks.
Bo Nix was in fact the touchdown leader in 2022 through these parameters anyway, with an outstanding 14 scores on the ground. If he could throw it to himself, he might have led as a red zone tight end too (finished the season with two catches, adding one more touchdown for a total of 15 non-passing touchdowns on the year!).
Although, in 2023, I see a new star emerging into a more dominant all-purpose role, as a Travis Dye, CJ Verdell-type scorer. So who’s it going to be?
Well, there are a few key factors to consider for Our Beloved Ducks’ offense to prosper in 2023.
New Offensive Scheme, Fewer Hits for Nix
As stated before, Dillingham is officially out. This is a huge key to how the offense is going to operate on the ground and will have major ripples into what we see from Nix if he’s going to rise to Heisman candidacy again. Last year we saw Nix run away with the non-passing touchdown crown for the Ducks, and it wasn’t that close.
However, in 2023 I expect to see a more skill-position-centric rushing attack. We saw Nix get banged up at the end of the year which cannot happen again if Oregon’s going to have a chance at the College Football Playoff. Even with depth, it’s just the position you can’t afford to replace, and I’m still hesitant to throw in Ty Thompson after the horrific limited action he had in 2022. Expect to see Nix pose a threat on the ground still, but also be much more of a passing threat next year with superstar Jurrion Dickey joining Troy Franklin and Kris Hutson.
Darkhorse Contender for the Touchdown Crown
Surprisingly enough, I think if this shift does happen in 2023, we could see Franklin emerge to double-digit receiving touchdowns and even lead the team in scoring. I can’t count how many times Franklin was tackled on a deep shot inside the ten-yard line, but it was a significant amount. Significant enough that if he gets that extra burst just a few more times next season, he could emerge to be a true touchdown machine.
Especially with the incoming talent to back him up, this Oregon offense has got to consistently layer that deep passing game into their gameplan to be successful. I saw 2022 as a run-heavy, efficiency-based passing season where the Ducks were able to throw the deep ball just enough to open up running lanes for the ground-and-pound attack.
Now, make no mistake. When it was clicking, the Ducks looked completely unstoppable. Other times, though, it was clear they were just a step behind elite-level offensive play. Whether that’s execution, scheme, or anything in between, the PAC-12 needs to fear Nix’s arm just as much as his legs in 2023.
All things considered, a lot still hinges on how this defense is going to elevate as well, but if Franklin can get a few more scores under his belt early? Expect the Ducks to have a real shot at playing a big game in January of 2024.
Oregon’s Rising Star in 2023
Without question, the leader in the clubhouse is Bucky Irving, to me.
I love what I saw from him down the stretch and I think there’s still a lot of space for him to elevate his game. Even Pro Football Focus recognized Irving’s scoring capabilities throughout the 2022 season. Regardless of how the offense comes together in the spring, I’ll be on the lookout for him to establish more of that “all-around back” role as a receiving threat and downhill runner.
Of course, Oregon’s never been one of those teams that runs the offense through any one player. Spreading the ball needs to remain an emphasis for this squad. Still, with how Dye played just two seasons ago (scoring 18 all-purpose touchdowns), I could see Irving eclipsing that type of role in 2023.
Who Do You See Leading the Ducks in Touchdowns Through 2023?
Overall, if the offensive mindset doesn’t change up much, you might see Nix lead this group again. However, after a late injury scare potentially costing Oregon a shot at the College Football Playoff, I see this new regime under Dan Lanning reshift their focus to the skill guys again. With fewer touches, I expect Nix to be in contention, Franklin on his heels, and Irving taking the crown.
But what do you think, Oregon fans? Is Nix going to lead this offense in touchdowns again, or will a new top-duck step up? Let us know in the FishDuck Forum with decorum!
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Nancy Paiva
Alex Heining is an Oregon alumni from the graduate class of 2021. After studying sports business and media studies, he has moved into the field of digital marketing as a copywriter and content manager in the Los Angeles area. Still, he loves his Ducks and goes to local high school games all over the Los Angeles and Orange County area to check out new recruits of the future (and a SoFi game or two with the pros). On any given Saturday, expect to find him doing martial arts, playing the guitar, or screaming at the tv over a missed holding penalty.
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