Keep the Pace
The Oregon Ducks‘ offense in recent years has become one of the most talked about and prolific offenses in college football. With the speed of their athletes coupled with the up-tempo offense, Oregon’s offense has been nearly unstoppable at times.
That being said, there have been moments when the Ducks needed just a little improvement to get past an opponent–one of the prime examples being against the Stanford Cardinal last year. While Oregon had plenty of offensive opportunities and did see its offense rattle off big plays, for the first time in quite awhile, the Ducks couldn’t sustain drives.
They were overpowered by Stanford’s line and and their offensive production was limited to some of their worst numbers all year. In fact, Oregon rushed for just 198 yards–they averaged 325.1 yards on the ground in their first 10 games–had 10 negative rushes, and ran the ball over 10 yards just four time in the contest.
It is without question that the Ducks were limited because Stanford’s defensive line added on top of a poor kicking game.
The loss to the Cardinal last season derailed Oregon’s chances of making their second BCS National Championship in three years and ended up being their lone loss on the year.
Seeing as the Ducks and their faithful fans won’t want a repeat of last years’ loss to Stanford happening once again, here are some improvements the Ducks can make on the offensive side of the ball to ensure they won’t be upset by an opponent they should be able to beat.
Offensive Line Gets Bigger
It’s a little difficult to advocate on behalf of a bigger Oregon offensive line because of the way their conditioned and slimmer offensive linemen are able to pursue the play and get down the field quickly, but the Ducks need to get a little bigger up front if they want to have any shot at coming away with victories against the toughest opponents in the future.
As was evidenced against the Cardinal last year and against teams like LSU and Auburn, Oregon has been unable to prevent bigger defensive lines from dictating the game from the line of scrimmage.
If they want to make it to the next level and beat some of those big lines that they will undoubtedly face in big games, Oregon must start to bulk up their offensive linemen while focusing on bringing in tougher blockers to the system. In fact, they have already started to do this to a certain extent. While many of Oregon’s linemen are still considered a little undersized, they are starting to get bigger while trying to focus on the addition of muscle instead of bulk, so as to help them maintain their speed as well.
Dominant Wide Receiver
Like their offensive linemen, Oregon’s receivers are a little bit out of the ordinary. Aside from being the dominant players who can find open space and beat defensive backs to get to a ball, the Ducks’ receivers are also asked to learn how to block down the field and follow the play when they do not have the ball.
Now, while this shouldn’t really conflict with any of their other abilities, it seems that, at times, Oregon’s receivers are too preoccupied with their other tasks that they just fail to put up good numbers in the receiving category.
And while Josh Huff is a standout receiver and can make big plays, he has yet to step up to that elite level that Oregon needs him to.
Though this next season could be his standout season, Oregon needs to identify a dominant wide receiver that can be relied on to produce at a consistent and elite level in Mark Helfrich’s version of the spread offense, which is supposed to feature much more passing.
This one is an obvious upgrade that Oregon somehow needs to make in 2013. Whether it is through improving Alejandro Maldonado in the offseason or relying on a younger kicker, the Ducks need a more consistent kicker that can hit from 30-40 yards when called upon.
Maldonado has missed too many important kicks throughout his career to have the starting job locked down, and hopefully he has used that as motivation to figure out what is wrong with his kicking motion and get things straight heading into a year where his services may be heavily relied upon.
This quick list was not meant to say that the Ducks have a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite of that.
Oregon’s offense in 2013 will likely flourish as it has in years past. With Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas back in business and leading the Ducks, who knows what gaudy numbers this offense is going to produce this coming season.
However, the Ducks, like any team in college football, are not perfect. Should they want to keep building their program towards becoming one of the most dominant and elite in college football history, these improvements on offense will pay huge dividends in helping them do so.