With Signing Day officially in the books, so is the 2012 campaign for Oregon football. However, as one chapter closes another one opens and it's never too early to take a sneak peek at the upcoming season. DuckTerritory's "Offseason Burning Questions" series takes a look at each position on the Oregon depth chart and addresses the biggest questions at each spot, priming Duck fans for what they can perhaps expect in 2013. Today, the series continues with an examination of the wide receiver position.
Can Josh Huff be Oregon's "go-to" receiver in 2013?
Projected 2013 Depth Chart:
*Josh Huff - Sr.
*Keanon Lowe - Jr.
*Daryle Hawkins - Sr.
Bralon Addison - So.
Dwayne Stanford - So.
B.J. Kelley - So.
Chance Allen - RFr.
Eric Dungy - Jr.
Blake Stanton - Jr.
Chad Delaney - Sr.
Darren Carrington - Fr.
Devon Allen - Fr.
* - denotes projected starter at one of three wide receiver positions.
Is this the year Josh Huff becomes Oregon's "go-to" receiver?
Members of the DuckTerritory community have been clamoring for a true "go-to" receiver on the edge since the graduation of Jeff Maehl after the 2010 season. Since that time, Oregon has taken to spreading the wealth throughout their receiving corp, as no one player has stepped forward to effectively and consistently assume that mantle. Last season's receiving totals for Oregon were a prime example of this co-op mentality, as eight Ducks registered 19 or more receptions in 2012. In fact, Oregon's leading pass catcher was De'Anthony Thomas (45 receptions); a player more closely associated with running the football than anything else. This statistical breakdown has perhaps more to do with the Ducks' equal opportunity approach to the passing game than anything else, though the question remains: "Is anyone capable of separating themselves from the pack?" If there is one player, Josh Huff would appear to be that guy. Coming off arguably his best season last year as junior, Huff caught 32 passes for 493 yards and led the Ducks in touchdown receptions with seven. Having played a significant role on offense since his true freshman season, Huff is plenty experienced and has the athletic ability to be an all-conference receiver if he can stay healthy and remain consistent. Health and consistency (or lack there of), however, have plagued Huff throughout his career in Eugene. While he may be Oregon's top threat at wide receiver, Huff is still more or less greatest amongst equals at wide receiver for the Ducks, thus one shouldn't expect drastically different receiving totals next season.
Who is next season's breakthrough player?
The luxury of not having an established "go-to" receiver for the Ducks simply means that a number of other players receive ample opportunities to make an impact on the game. Most fans are already familiar with Josh Huff, yet, are there unsung players on the depth chart who could establish themselves as household names next season? The answer is yes and there are plenty of viable candidates. Perhaps the best bet for breakout star is sophomore-to-be Bralon Addison, who turned heads in fall camp before turning in a successful true freshman campaign that saw him catch 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. Posting nearly identical stats (22 catches, 244 yards, three touchdowns) was junior-to-be Keanon Lowe, who emerged as a surprise starter throughout last season after being mired on the depth chart as a redshirt freshman. Similarly built, Addison and Lowe use their diminutive size and exceptional quickness to their advantage, demonstrating a consistent ability to get open for quarterback Marcus Mariota. However, as talented as Addison and Lowe are, the player who could be a dark horse breakthrough player in 2013 is Chance Allen. After spending his redshirt year on the sidelines watching, observing, and honing his game, Allen could be primed for big things next season when he finally debuts for the Ducks. At 6'2", 195 lbs., word is that Allen was a scout team star for Oregon last season; demonstrating terrific all-around ability as both a dynamic pass catcher and rugged perimeter blocker.
Could Darren Carrington and Devon Allen make an impact next season?
It's certainly possibly, but it's advised that that enthusiasm be well tempered. Both Carrington and Allen are terrific talents, however, Oregon's depth chart is already teeming with outstanding but unproven young talent. Of the two, Carrington would seem to have the best opportunity to come in and earn playing time as a true freshman. His athletic 6'3", 180-pound frame suggests that Carrington could be physically ready to compete immediately, but how Carrington adjusts to being in a pond with similarly sized fish remains to be seen. Same could be said for Allen, who while smaller than Carrington at 6'1", 187 lbs, used his world-class sprinter's speed to dominate his competition at the high school level. The task is far from impossible, but Carrington and Allen will have their work cut out for them in fall camp if they wish to supersede players the likes of Addison, Stanford, Kelley, (Chance) Allen, and Dungy in the rotation at wide receiver next season.