With fall camp officially opening today, here’s a look at some of biggest questions for Oregon Ducks Football team. We’ll take a look at changes on the coaching staff and on both sides of the ball on the field, as well as a quick look into the Ducks special teams for 2013.
What will Scott Frost the play caller be like?
Chip Kelly built a reputation at Oregon with gutsy playcalling and it remains to be seen if offensive coordinator and the Ducks shot caller Scott Frost will take the same approach–though one would probably assume that will be the case. Frost will have at his disposal a quarterback in Marcus Mariota that some have called the most complete player in the country, not to mention and improved receiving corps and a loaded backfield.
Under Kelly, the offense was predicated on getting as many different players the ball as often as possible, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. How that happens though remains to be seen. Many have speculated that the Helfrich-Frost offense will be more of an aerial attack than in years passed simply because of both coaches’ experience with the passing game.
If those expectations are accurate, it’s possible the Ducks offense–the same offense that had 44 touchdown drives of less than two minutes last season–may get even faster. Among those 44 drives was the Ducks 46-second drive to end the first half. The sequence may have been a forecast of things to come, with the Ducks scoring in a flash on five plays, four of them through the air.
How do the Ducks split carries?
This probably falls into the category of problems that any football coach would love to have, but how do you split carries between Byron Marshall, De’Anthony Thomas and Thomas Tyner?
Based simply on highlight potential one would give Thomas the starting job and be done with it, but using Thomas just as an everydown back doesn’t even begin to take full advantage of his talent. This is after all a man who has in the past just met with then head coach Chip Kelly during position meetings simply because he didn’t fit into any traditional role. Marshall has shown tremendous promise in limited action over the last several years, but the biggest wild card in the equation may be Tyner.
The super recruit put up even-better-than-video-game numbers as a high school senior, but, of course, division one college football is an entirely new ballgame. Assuming Tyner does play in the fall–which is the plan as of the start of camp–how he preforms will have a lot of say on how many carries Thomas gets.
If Tyner can shoulder enough of the load that he and Marshall get the vast majority of the carries, it allows the Ducks to move Thomas into the slot, where he has been most dangerous in his Oregon career.
Not to be forgotten is Colt Lyerla. Lyerla figures to be used almost exclusively in the passing game, but the Ducks did use him in some limited power packages last season, mostly early on in the year. Lyerla may not be lining up as a fullback in the i-formation anytime soon, but if he can pick up first downs on the odd set here or there it adds a totally different dimension to the Ducks offense.
How does Nick Aliotti replace the linebacking corps?
The secret to last year’s Fiesta Bowl championship team was the Ducks defense, anchored by defense end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan (no. 3 overall pick by Miami) and middle linebacker Michael Clay, who signed a free agent contract with the Dolphins as well. Also gone is middle linebacker Kiko Alonso, a second round pick of the Buffalo Bills.
There are proven playmakers at linebacker this year too, with Boseko Lokombo and Tyson Coleman ready to take center stage, but the hole left in the middle by Clay’s departure is cause for some concern, and in truth it may take several weeks into the season for things to be resolved–it’s hard to learn a lot from even an untested division one team against competition like Nicholls State.
The good thing for the Ducks–though it too as a double edged sword–is that the new linebacking group is incredibly young. Of the 12 linebackers on the Ducks roster, Lokombo is the only senior and it’s likely that the Ducks starter in the middle will be just a sophomore, if Coleman does get that job.
Okay, so we won’t spend too much time on this one. Special teams have been something of a sore subject for Oregon fans of late, but there may be a savior coming from Indian Trail, North Carolina in Matt Wogan.
The kicker/punter has a highlight video -it’s pretty much what one would expect for a kicking highlight video–and it’s clear that he can boot the ball. With the departure of Jackson Rice, Wogan may be competing with Dylan Ausherman for that loneliest of positions – the Ducks punting job.
And if he impresses enough in camp Wogan may be able to give Alejandro Maldanado a run for his money as well.