Spring has sprung and the Oregon Ducks were actually able to get through an entire spring camp without any cancellations! Though no fans were in attendance at Autzen, things are starting to feel normal again. Here’s what we “learned” at this glorified practice.
We Have A Rough Idea Who the Starters Will Be
Obviously, nothing is set in stone after spring camp, but there are a few positions that look to be basically won. Running back, linebacker, and the d-line look to be done deals, and unless a few of the newcomers can make amazing strides in a short amount of time, receiver, quarterback and offensive line are also good to go.
The absence of players like Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Jaylon Redd, DJ James and Trikweze Bridges resulted in some mix up that will hopefully be fixed by the time we get to real games, but for what it’s worth, here’s a list of the starters from the spring game.
SPRING GAME STARTING OFFENSE
QB: Anthony Brown Jr.
RB: CJ Verdell
WR: Devon Williams, Johnny Johnson III, Mycah Pittman
TE: Spencer Webb / Patrick Herbert
O-line: George Moore (LT), Ryan Walk (LG), Alex Forsyth (C), Steven Jones (RG), Dawson Jaramillo (RT)
SPRING GAME STARTING DEFENSE
D-line: Popo Aumavae, Brandon Dorlus
Stud: Mase Funa
DE: Kayvon Thibodeaux
Linebacker: Isaac Slade-Matautia, Noah Sewell,
Defensive backs: Bennett Williams, Steve Stephens IV, Verone McKinley III, Jaylin Davies, Dontae Manning,
We Are Absolutely Stacked at Receiver
True freshman Troy Franklin looked mighty impressive, finishing the day with four catches for a total of 93 yards, and nearly had a touchdown on a reception off a ball thrown by Robby Ashford. Second-year Freshman Kris Hutson also had a great day, highlighted by a TD reception thrown by Jay Butterfield. And true freshman Dont’e Thornton caught an easy deep touchdown pass from Ashford.
These three receivers alone would make a top-tier starting PAC-12 receiving corps and as of right now they haven’t been able to crack the starting rotation because we already have proven talent in those roles. This could be Oregon’s best unit this season, and it should be a very entertaining battle for playing time.
Anthony Brown Jr. is QB1, and Some Duck Fans Will Never Be Okay with That
Anthony Brown Jr., the sixth-year senior, has plenty of college gametape to study, but only a handful of drives at Oregon to analyze. He looked much like he did in the PAC-12 Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl: he looked comfortable, mobile, accurate but unable to connect on the few deep shots that he took, he fumbled the ball, and split reps with others.
It’s foolish to take too much out of a Spring Game, or even his two games last season in which he shared playing time with Shough. I personally wont feel comfortable in evaluating Brown Jr’s play until he takes on the Buckeyes, because that defense will be sure to find any flaws he has. However, many fans will start calling for his head once he throws an incompletion against Fresno State. This is the way...
Jay Butterfield Looks Ready to Fight For the Job
(the rest need a little more time in the oven)
It’s too soon to say that redshirt freshman Jay Butterfield is the guaranteed second quarterback, but judging from the talk coming out of spring camp and the two drives that Butterfield led in the spring game it’s a safe bet to make that he’ll be called upon first if Brown Jr. isn’t able to play. He threw a couple of impressive deep balls to the second string receiving corps and also set up a successful field goal right before the first half. Overall, his footwork looked a little more sure than either of the other two QBs and he’s got some serious potential when he’s clean in the pocket. But, again, there’s a long time until the start of the season, and this should remain a heated battle.
Henry Katleman may be the kicker the prophecy spoke of...
Is this the kicker of legend? The one that will deliver Oregon its first Natty, and redeem this most cursed position?
Henry Katleman was a perfect 2-of-2, including one from 52 yards out. Camden Lewis also made his field goal attempt, which redeemed a stalled drive from the offense, but it feels safe to say, considering his stellar performance from last season, that Katleman’s got the starting job. Can it be that Oregon has a bona fide ace kicker? Only time will tell.
Travis Dye looks ready to score some touchdowns
Once known as “Baby Dye”, it appears Travis is ready to fully stamp his own legacy with a promising 2021 season. The speedy back took just eight snaps in the scrimmage, but still managed to look like Oregon’s most electric scoring option. Dye scored the contest’s opening touchdown on a 26-yard catch-and-run. He’s set up to pick up a lot of receiving yards this season by simply catching dump-off passes and screens against defenses that will hopefully be overwhelmed by the Duck receiving corps. I bet that, barring injury, Dye finishes with the most all-purpose yards for a Duck this season.
CJ Verdell Should Be Cryogenically Frozen Between Games
With injuries to Sean Dollars and Trey Benson, and the absence of Cross Patton in the spring game, walk-on Aaron Smith took most of the reps at running back. It was a clear decision to preserve the health of CJ Verdell (who has struggled to stay healthy throughout an entire season) and Travis Dye to put in a player that even the all-knowing Hythloday needed to look up, and also speaks to the Ducks’ perilous depth at the position.
That being said, Smith actually looked pretty good in this controlled environment, and even managed to walk away with 56 yards and a touchdown that he had to fight for. The one-two punch of Verdell and Dye could lead us to another PAC-12 championship game, but should one or both of them be knocked off the roster for a week or two then we may be relying on a walk-on in the backfield, which feels strange at running back U.
They’re saving the Thibodeaux bomb for the Buckeyes
I don’t think we’ll see Thibodeaux be fully unlocked until Sep. 11 in Columbus, Ohio. But when they do decide to fully unleash him, Duck fans should be in for a good time. It was nice to see him off the line and in space the little we saw of him during the spring scrimmage, and hopefully DeRuyter has some tricks up his sleeve to really throw the Buckeys off. It’d be nice to beat the Buckeyes before the end of the world.