Yup, Oregon is getting another explosive athlete on offense. I'm sure everyone is used to this by now.
The latest addition is 4 star running back/wide receiver Malik Lovette out of Redlands, California and he is bringing a familiar skill with him and that all Duck fans enjoy: speed.
Lovette has the speed to take it the distance if he gets a crease. Adding him to a class that already includes the fastest running back in the nation in Taj Griffin is almost unfair. Since Chip Kelly came to Oregon as offensive coordinator in 2007, it has been recruit, produce, repeat from his time with the program and has continued under Mark Helfrich. They just continue to bring in talent at the offensive skill positions.
I love what Lovette brings to the table as a weapon in an offense like Oregon's. He not only brings speed, he has position versatility. He can line up in the backfield where he shows great vision as a runner or he could line up in the slot where he has legitimate receiver skills. He adjusts to the football extremely well when it's in the air and is tough for any defender to cover.
He's not all that much different than former Duck DeAnthony Thomas in a lot of ways. Just like Thomas, he creates mismatches with his versatility. Simply put, bigger players will struggle to cover him because of his quickness. Most linebackers will not be able to cover him and even a lot of safeties will struggle to stick with him.
I think Thomas has better speed than Lovette, but Lovette is a much better receiver coming into Oregon than Thomas was. He is going to be able to take advantages of mismatches in the passing game.
Below is an example of what Lovette can bring to the table catching the football. Lovette, #6, is lined up in a bunch formation on the right as the inside receiver. The defense is staying in base personnel and is going to ask a linebacker to cover him.
Probably not the best decision on their part to ask that linebacker to try and run with Lovette on a corner route. Not only does Lovette create separation easily, he also does a great job adjusting to the football to make the catch for a touchdown.
So why is it important for Oregon that Lovette has the ability to do this? If big guys (linebackers) can't cover small guys like Lovette, that means they will have to bring in defensive backs to adjust. One less linebacker means Oregon gets more of an advantage upfront to run the football, which is what makes the Oregon offense so successful.
One of the major principles of Oregon's offense is that it is built to take advantage where they have a mismatch with the defense. If they have numbers on the inside against a team's defensive front, they are going to run the football. If they have more receivers on the outside than a team have defenders to cover them, they are going to throw it. Lovette has the potential to be the kind of player that make teams choose how they want to defend the Ducks and, based on that choice, the Ducks can exploit a defense in a number of different ways.
It's nice to have options as an offense and a player like Lovette should be able to give the Ducks plenty of options to create mismatches in the future.