The Oregon Ducks are dangerous. The lopsided scores so far this season should be enough indication of that.
But if I’m a defensive coordinator that has Oregon on the upcoming schedule, what I saw this weekend has me fretting even more.
In addition to its speed, Oregon has more versatility than ever before. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has multiple speedy receivers to throw the ball to. He’s a threat to run it and De’Anthony Thomas obviously can break big runs at any time.
With a pair of good running backs behind Thomas on the depth chart in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner, Oregon will have no problem rolling up more 300-yard rushing games.
And now, there’s a new option.
Johnny Mundt burst onto the scene against Tennessee. The freshman tight end has a big frame, good hands and enough speed to turn a short pass into a long gain. He got the start against the Volunteers because Colt Lyerla was unable to play.
When Lyerla returns, the Ducks can add yet another wrinkle to their high-octane attack. Mundt and Lyerla can team up in two tight end sets to further befuddle defenses. Once Pharaoh Brown returns from an injury, Oregon could conceivably put three skilled tight ends on the field at the same time.
That seems to go against the ideals of Oregon’s spread offense, but Lyerla has the versatility to split out wide or line up in the backfield. Mundt and Brown also look athletic enough to line up in the slot.
That gives Oregon the unprecedented ability to go with a three tight end look – a la the Stanford Cardinal – one series, spread the field with five wide receivers the next, and then potentially line up with three running backs in a full-house backfield.
Oregon has an embarrassment of talents. There is so much skill and speed on this team – both offensively and defensively. With high-end talent at so many positions, it gives Mark Helfrich and his coaching staff a lot of options to tinker with.
With a bye week before their next game, don’t be surprised if Oregon implements some additional offensive sets the rest of the season.