Oregon offense is still loaded, even without Mariota

Oregon's absolutely loaded group of skill-position players should help make up for the loss of Marcus Mariota, writes Kevin Connaghan.

| 2 years ago
Royce Freeman

(AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Oregon offense is still loaded, even without Mariota

Regardless of whether it’s Jeff Lockie or Vernon Adams Jr. who wins the Oregon starting quarterback job, the Ducks can expect a transition period at quarterback following the departure of Marcus Mariota. That’s what happens when you lose a record-setting, Heisman-winning No. 2 overall NFL draft pick.
But perhaps lost in that transition is the fact that the Ducks are going to be absolutely loaded at the skill positions around their new starting QB.
At running back, Royce Freeman had the ninth-best overall grade against Power 5 opponents as a true freshman in 2014, and the sixth-best among backs returning for 2015. Thomas Tyner only saw 232 snaps compared to Freeman’s 647, but still finished with the seventh-best rushing grade among Pac-12 backs with at least 50 carries.
Oregon have a surplus of options at wide receiver, even with concerns over the availability of Devon Allen (injury) and Darren Carrington (suspension) early in the season. Carrington’s WR rating against Power 5 opponents ranked fourth in the nation among 166 qualifying WRs, and he was joined in the top 35 by teammates Dwayne Stanford, Allen and Byron Marshall.
Marshall, a converted running back, did most of his damage from the slot, where his 2.64 yards per route run against Power 5 opponents ranked fourth in the nation. Charles Nelson had too few targets to qualify, but his performance in limited opportunities make him a potential breakout candidate.
A Week 2 trip to East Landing to play Michigan State looms large, but don’t be surprised if the Oregon offense gets off to a fast start, even with a new QB under center.

| Analyst

Kevin has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, with a particular focus on college football.

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