Chip Says Loss of “Paulson and LT Tuinei Overlooked”
While the losses of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas are important and should not go overlooked, it is well established that those holes will need to be filled. The Oregon Ducks football team brings back two great backs in Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas, as well as a lot of potential at quarterback with Bryan Bennett and rFR Marcus Mariota.
What people seem to sometimes overlook is the absences at other skill positions on offense.
“I think the two big losses from last year’s team that aren’t always talked about are the loss of David Paulson at tight end and LT Tuinei at receiver,” said Kelly during media day. “(Tuinei) ended up being the MVP of the Rose Bowl.”
Paulson has followed a long-line of outstanding TEs over the past decade for the Ducks. From Justin Peele to Dante Rosario and Ed Dickson, Oregon has been stacked at the position. That may not be the same case this season with Paulson’s graduation and the late arrival of assumed starter Colt Lyerla.
Lyerla, a five-star recruit from the 2011 class, and a native out of Hilsboro, OR, caught seven passes for 147 yards (21.0 YPC) and five touchdowns. Lylerla also stared in special teams with seven tackles, all solo. The Ducks also lost Curtis White, Sheldon High School graduate, to a career ending injury otherwise he’d be in the mix for the starting spot as well.
Oregon recruited well at the position, however, bringing in two highly touted recruits in Evan Baylis (Aurora, CO/Grandview High School) and Pharoah Brown (Lyndhurst, OH/Brush High School). Christrian French has made the move to defensive end, much like Dion Jordan did for the Ducks.
As for the wide receiver position, the Ducks have a little more flexibility. While they lose Tuinei (graduation), Tacoi Sumler (transfer) and Justin Hoffman (retirement), their stable of players is much deeper and talented than the TEs. Oregon returns Josh Huff and Thomas, both will contribute significantly.
After those two, the Ducks have a wide-range of players to pick from. Senior Rahsaan Vaughn (184 yards, one TD) will likely take one of the other starting spots, with a plethora of young talent behind him. There is Eric Dungy, B.J. Kelly, Devon Blackmon, Daryle Hawkins, Bralon Addison and more.
It’s hard to tell which direction the team will go in. Summer practices are likely going to have each player fill into their roles accordingly. The three starters will likely be Thomas, Huff and either Hawkins or Vaughn.
Chip is right. While everyone goes on and on about the losses at the QB and RB positions, long-timers in Paulson and Tuinei might be missed more. With questions, injuries, and MIAs at both TE and WR, it’s no wonder Chip misses those guys.
The next 20 practices will be make it or break it for the aforementioned players. Are you ready for some football?