By now, it’s become clear the No. 6 Oregon Ducks’ offense is loaded with talented skill-position players, like a football multi-tool, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Even Mr. FishDuck took some from his fun reading Today’s NFL odds, and listening to his Sports Betting Podcast to share his astonishment of the 2023 Oregon offense with me.
Bucky Irving. Troy Franklin. Terence Ferguson. After nine weeks, each player has proven their ability to execute Ducks offensive coordinator Will Stein’s scheme, week in and week out. Recently, a young star has risen among the ranks as one of the favorite targets of Heisman candidate quarterback Bo Nix — Nix’s adopted brother and former high school teammate, Tez Johnson.
Montana and Rice. Aikman and Irvin. Nix and Johnson… Heck, why not?
Johnson, a junior receiver and punt returner who transferred to Oregon after last season, delivered an eye-popping performance in the Ducks’ 63-19 rout of Cal on Saturday at Autzen Stadium, finishing with a career-high 12 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson also returned three punts for 75 yards, including a 47-yard return, the longest in his career.
How good was Johnson’s performance on Saturday that helped Oregon improve to 8-1? Franklin, a prolific pass catcher who normally dominates the stat line for Oregon’s receiving corp, finished with a distant six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
A longtime Oregon fan growing up, Johnson is living his dream alongside arguably one the best quarterbacks to take the helm in Eugene. And that signal caller happens to be his brother. Make no mistake, Johnson has earned his shot to haul in passes for one of the top football programs in the country, compiling 1,809 total receiving yards and nine touchdowns over the last three seasons at Troy University.
While we marvel at Johnson’s speed and savvy that produced a killer highlight reel, the Alabama native’s career day this weekend against the Golden Bears got off to a shaky start. On the first play from scrimmage, Cal intercepted a deflected pass from Nix to Johnson, which he should have caught. Instead of letting that rare miss define his afternoon, Johnson was turbocharged for Oregon’s next drive.
Facing a first-and-37, Nix connected with Johnson, who zipped through Cal’s secondary and was long gone for a 48-yard touchdown catch. The botched opening pass was all but forgotten — a distant memory similar to the Cal defenders fading out of sight in Johnson’s rearview mirror as he cruised to the end zone.
“When (Tez Johnson’s) number was called, he answered,” Nix said after the game. “You can look at the whole entire game, and the story you can pull from is, hey, that first play didn’t go how we wanted it. Anybody could have gone in the tank after that. That was a tough play to come back from and not what you want to go out there and do. But your response is the most important thing. Your response is usually how you’re seen as a person. I thought he came out and had a great response and took over the game.”
Nix went 29-for-38 and finished with four touchdowns and 386 passing yards. The Ducks finished with nearly 600 yards of offense, including 444 yards passing, as Nix continues his impressive campaign for the school’s second Heisman Trophy.
So far this season, Johnson has 46 catches for 599 yards and six touchdowns.
The on-field dynamic between Nix and Johnson was electric in this weekend’s dismantling of the Golden Bears and suggests there’s plenty more where that came from.
Jordan P. Ingram
Photo credit: Craig Strobeck
Jordan is a lifelong Duck fan currently living in San Diego. Jordan graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after serving a prestigious fellowship with the Washington State House of Representatives. Upon graduation, he worked as an English language teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Ambassadorial Program in Monforte de Lemos, Spain. Jordan has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and California, covering a wide range of topics, including sports, local politics, and crime. He is VERY excited to be writing about his beloved Oregon Ducks.
FishDuck Going to Articles on Monday and Tuesday Only…
Our off-season schedule begins, and we move from publishing articles seven days a week to Mondays and Tuesdays only. Same great group of writers, and we will have an article on other days on occasion.
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