Coming into the 2013 season Oregon's wide receiving corps is a known quantity. Led by senior and four year starter Josh Huff, the Ducks return all of their leading receivers from last year, a group which also includes Keanon Lowe, Bralon Addison, and Daryle Hawkins at the top of the depth chart. The Ducks have recruited the wide receiver position very well the last few years and behind the starters is an extremely talented group that includes Eric Dungy, Chance Allen, B.J. Kelley, and Dwayne Stanford, as well as talented incoming freshman Darren Carrington and Devon Allen. Simply put, the Ducks are loaded at the position.
It seems odd then that the Ducks receivers are an afterthought when discussing Oregon's prolific offense. That is, of course, due to how efficiently Oregon ran the ball in the Chip Kelly era, and the way in which receivers have been used as down field blockers in that scheme.
Oregon also spreads the ball around in the passing attack and hasn't had a 1,000 yard receiver since Jeff Maehl in 2010. Josh Huff led all Oregon receivers last year with 493 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, while De'Anthony Thomas (also a potent weapon in the passing attack) led the team with 45 receptions.
With the transition from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich, a returning QB in Marcus Mariota, and running back a relatively unknown quantity (albeit an extremely talented group), many wonder if this is the year the play-calling becomes more balanced and we see more big plays down field.
Enter Matt Lubick, Oregon's new wide receivers coach. Lubick earned national accolades last year as one of the best wide receivers coaches in college football. His Duke team had the only trio of receivers in the country with 65+ receptions each (this is where I remind you that De'Anthony led the Ducks last year with 45). Lubick also had not one but two 1,000 yard receivers in Jamison Crowder (1,074) and Conner Vernon (1,074). If Oregon is going to open up the playbook and throw it more, Lubick is the guy you want leading the receiving corps.
Make no mistake, the run game is still going to be Oregon's bread and butter. But should the run game stumble as teams make adjustments or try to cheat up front to slow down Oregon's prolific ground attack, the Ducks are poised now more than ever to make them pay by throwing the ball down field. It's one of many exciting things to watch as the Oregon offense makes the transition out of the Chip Kelly era in 2013.