Spring Game - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Oregon Ducks Football: 3 Things to Watch for in the Spring Game

Alex Heining Editorials

Our Oregon Ducks football team has the annual spring game coming up this Saturday, and there’s a lot to prove for this team. Fortunately, it looks like the Ducks have all the key pieces in place to have one of their best seasons in school history. A veteran starting quarterback in Bo Nix coming back for his final season, an outstanding coaching staff in Dan Lanning’s regime, and star power all over the field on offense. While there’s a lot to prove on the defensive side of the ball after major players have departed, 2023 has a great outlook for the Ducks to be real contenders for the College Football Playoff.

That said, there’s a ton of work this team’s going to need to get done between now and September 2nd (when the Ducks open their season against Portland State). The week ahead’s a big one, with superstars and former Ducks like Christian Gonzalez headed to the NFL Draft on Thursday, and the beloved spring game coming up on the third day of the draft. Today, we’ll focus up on three key factors to watch on Saturday for the annual spring game, honing in mainly on the moving parts of the offseason and pivotal changes for the year ahead.

David Stone Jr. - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

5-Star recruit David Stone Jr. is set to visit the Ducks on Saturday for the Spring Game.

3. Big-Time Recruiting Visits

Usually, a handful of top recruits would be in Eugene for the spring game. Instead, we have the privilege of Oregon’s highest star-power recruiting visit from current commits and future commits EVER. And that’s a statement.  David Stone Jr. and company top that list as one of almost double-digit 5-star recruits, which is absolutely mindboggling to think about. Lanning and Mario Cristobal have shaped a foundation for the Ducks to be a destination team in the West, and it’s a privilege to get to see it as a fan of Our Beloved Ducks.

Hopefully, it’s moments like these that can completely shape our expectations for years ahead with Lanning at the helm, as he coerces future recruiting classes to join a squad that may end up beating his own recruiting record set earlier this year. If you happen to be at the game this weekend, let ’em know what it means to be a Duck!

Will Stein - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

Will Stein has big shoes to fill after Kenny Dillingham’s fantastic stint with the Ducks as OC.

2. Will Stein’s New-Look Offense

There’s a lot to be excited about here with a new offensive coordinator at the helm. We saw Nix flourish in Kenny Dillingham’s offense last year, and we might see him take an even bigger step with Stein. As he gets ready for the NFL Draft in 2024, he could elevate his chances at being a 1st-round pick with a Heisman Trophy, so there’s a lot at stake for Nix from here on out.

Even though this is just a scrimmage, it’ll be a GREAT feeling as a fan to see a quarterback we trust at the helm again this year. I have zero question marks about whether or not Stein will be able to get the most out of him, and help Nix set an even higher bar for this offense to flourish throughout the season. He’ll be leading a highly-touted group of skill position players whom with he’s already spent over a year developing chemistry. This includes: Troy FranklinKris HutsonBucky Irving, and Terrance Ferguson.

Be on the lookout for them in some new looks on Saturday, while other quarterbacks get their chance at spinning it a bit, and Lanning can gauge what the rest of the roster’s skill-position composition has to offer.

Jay Butterfield - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

With Butterfield and a handful of other Ducks on their way out, there’s a ton of new promising talent joining the flock as well.

1. Impact of the Transfer Portal, New Faces

New additions and subtractions on both sides of the ball will play a major role in how the team performs this year, and most of that came through the transfer portal. Luckily, though, Lanning’s been able to traverse treacherous waters in the pond before.

Superstar Travis Dye left the roster last year, and the Ducks didn’t miss a STEP in the running game. In fact, Oregon’s rushing attack looked as dominant as ever for a stretch in the 2022 season.

Now, while the transfer portal hasn’t completely worked out in the Ducks’ favor, we should be excited about a ton of these young pieces bulking up an already elite roster. The biggest returning portal pieces are Nix and Irving of course, but Ajani CorneliusJestin Jacobs, Evan Williams, and several others could make a Christian Gonzalez-like impact in their first year.

Treashon Holden - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR

A promising addition to the roster in Treashon Holden wasn’t going to be joining the Ducks this year after his dismissal from the team, but luckily, he’s been reinstated.

Sometimes, though, the transfer portal can be a mixed bag. Traeshon Holden was going to be a big addition as a receiving threat, though he was dismissed from the team in the offseason. Then, he returned to the team after being reinstated, and has been practicing well. One of the greatest truths we can learn from player acquisition is the fact that there are no gurantees in football. Fortunately for us, this is nothing to sweat over, and Holden shouldn’t miss a beat moving into the year.

Even if Holden were still off the team, Lanning’s taken as many chances as he can to get quality depth around this team and even find new starters through recruiting, transfers, and making this program desirable with some stability in his coaching staff. Granted, superstar offensive coordinator Dillingham will be missed, but that’s to be expected of great offensive minds.

This team is experienced, well-coached, and ready to win even with all the changes. I expect to see that reflected in a fun outing on Saturday in a satiating sneak peek to tide us over for the football season ahead.

Dan Lanning - Oregon Ducks Football - FishDuck.com in Eugene, OR - Spring Game

Don’t forget how far this team’s come since Lanning got here. He is the answer.

Bottom Line: The Future Ahead Is a BRIGHT One

Overall, I’m extremely excited to see what this 2023 squad has to offer. I believe this will be one of Oregon’s best seasons in the past decade, and all the right pieces are in place to create scoring opportunities, takeaways, and a fun-filled season for us Duck fans.

Anyway, enough from me, Oregon fans. What are you going to be on the lookout for this Saturday? Who’s the “splash” player you expect to make an impact early and often this year? Will any transfer players become stars like Nix did? Let us know in the FishDuck Forum with decorum!

Go Ducks!

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

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