STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Josh Huff #1 of the Oregon Ducks breaks a tackle and goes fifty nine yards for a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Oregon fans feel pretty comfortable in turning over the reins to Marcus Mariota. He's composed, he's athletic, he's got a good arm, he's physical, he's a great system quarterback, he can do all the right things in the Ducks offense. That sounds like Chip Kelly's type of quarterback.
Apparently scuttlebutt this season is that Oregon will throw the football more. Makes sense since the Ducks are now having to rely solely on Kenjon Barner as the workhorse at running back and are perilously thin behind him this season (De'Anthony Thomas is dynamic, but he's unlikely to survive more than 150-180 carries in a season). It makes even more sense why Mariota was selected, as his accuracy and passing acumen were a big factor in why Kelly recruited him in the first place. If the Oregon offense is to go this season, they'll need Mariota to step up and deliver.
We know that much. What we don't know is how capable the receivers are that Mariota will end up throwing to this season. Failure or success this year could ride on their execution level.Basically you have Josh Huff and the Black Mamba, where Huff plays the role of the feature receiver and Thomas moves into the specialist receiver spot where he runs sweeps, triple options, screens and occasional WR routes. Whether Huff can handle the move to the outside will be something worth monitoring, as he struggled to haul in catches and then had a rather unremarkable 2012. Lavasier Tuinei was okay in the role, but Huff will probably have to do better if Oregon is expected to be successful when emphasizing the pass.
Thomas will probably excel at his spot, but the success of both of them could depend on how good the other Duck receivers are at catching passes. You have to figure Daryle Hawkins and Keanon Lowe are the best blockers on the team, as blocking has always been an emphasis of Oregon's offense. But Hawkins had only five catches last year (although he did have three catches for 38 yards in the Pac-12 title game), and Lowe none. If Oregon's offense is truly expected to operate at full title, those Ducks will need to haul in some footballs.
Oregon fan reaction
Joel Gunderson, FishDuck: "Realistically, Oregon needs 2-3 receivers with break-away ability to be on the field at all times. Keeping the defense honest and not letting them crowd the line of scrimmage will be vital this season, as the Ducks look to replace perhaps the best player in school history, do-it-all running back LaMichael James."
jcgoducks, Addicted to Quack: "De’Anthony Thomas I’m outlining as a receiver because he is the leading receiver from last season. With LaMichael James having gone to the NFL De’Anthony Thomas will get a lot more carries in the backfield but I see him mostly playing in a TZR role, something Huff did as a sophomore. The pitchman on triple options, jet sweeps, things like that. But Thomas will also be in on all types of screens on the outside, what Bellotti used to call "glorified running plays" as well as standard quick routes. True freshman Bralon Addison, who also played quarterback his senior year of high school, could also fill the TZR role. After watching his high school tape it is clear that Addison is very elusive in traffic and has great cutback vision."