Oregon was supposed to have a banner year in 2014, but now a key piece to their championship puzzle has been potentially sidelined for the season. Stalwart junior wide receiver Bralon Addison was poised to have a breakout season leading a young Ducks’ receiving corps. Addison was even penned by some to be a dark horse Heisman candidate for the Ducks (Hey! The kid is a difference maker when he’s on the field). He was the Ducks’ returning receiver from 2013, and expected to be quarterback Marcus Mariota’s go-to-man when he was chucking the pigskin down the field. This all changed during practice on April 9th when Addison tore his ACL during a non-contact drill.
The explosive junior was going to be a dangerous top receiver pairing with senior Keanon Lowe to give the Ducks some of the best receiver depth they’ve had in recent memory as well as the Pac-12. Now, the departures of 2013’s top receiver Josh Huff and do-it-all scatback De’Anthony Thomas are magnifying as the WR depth is thinning. This isn’t to say Addison’s ACL tear will cost the Ducks their championship aspirations, but it will make the journey much harder. Their looming main event slobberknocker with Michigan State will prove to be a huge test for the Ducks’ aerial assault. More than any game on the schedule this is where Addison will be missed the most. One thing losing Addison does do is allow head coach Mark Helfrich to dig into the bullpen to look for support in the passing game. This could lead to a few interesting scenarios.
1. The Tyner-Marshall show expands
It appeared to be a given that one of Thomas Tyner or Byron Marshall were going to get some serious national attention during the 2014 season. Now, with Addison down, the opportunity for both backs to be on the field at once increases. If by chance Tyner outright wins the starting tailback position the door opens for Marshall to play a role akin to DAT’s scatback gig. Albeit Marshall isn’t near the receiver DAT is, he would be able to spread the defense while getting a lot of touches. This also allows for 5-star freshman Royce Freeman to receive more carries out of the backfield.
2. Johnny Mundt’s vertical presence
Sophomore tight end Johnny “Mad Man” Mundt could be the new “big man” on campus this fall. It only helps that the big guy has tacked on 20 pounds in the offseason to make him an even larger pass target. By keeping the defense in check with a very productive tight end the Ducks could keep their spread offense chugging at its warp speed pace. Mundt was picked to be an early offseason threat by yours truly, and now it appears it’s his time to shine. This season could well turn into the year that “Mad Man Mundt” becomes the Ducks’ top receiving tight end since Ed Dickson.
3. Enter Darren Carrington
A certainty no matter what from Addison’s absence is that someone has to move up the WR depth chart. No matter how many non-WR targets Mariota can find, there has to be an actual second WR on the field. That brings us to the redshirt-freshman Darren Carrington Carrington could have been a nice surprise for Ducks’ fans in 2014. He could have been the under the radar freshman who dominated with his 6’2” frame from the slot, and really captured the eyes of the Duck faithful. Now with Addison gone he’s been given a lot larger role and responsibilities than he could have predicted he’d have in his first year of play. This could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Ducks. Carrington is no slouch, he’s a former 4-star recruit who could legitimately be a difference-maker. This also gives Oregon another experienced, skilled and starting receiver for the 2015 campaign.