Early Oregon Analysis: Back In A Huff
By John Baker
Remind Me: Who Is Josh Huff?
I'll tell you who he is — De'Anthony Thomas before DAT hit campus. It was Huff three years ago who burst onto the scene as a precocious freshman catching passes, taking handoffs and generally heralding the world of track meet football for the Ducks. Injuries have made Huff inconsistent, but now he's healthy.
On Saturday, Huff didn't get in the end zone, but he led the Ducks with five catches for 118 yards and was a thorn in the side of the Nicholls State secondary the entire time he was on the field. It's telling that quarterback Marcus Mariota dialed up Huff for the first pass attempt of the game. For all the speed and apparent talent the Ducks have in the wide receiver corps, Huff may be "the guy" on the outside this year.
DL Backs Hype Early
There's been talk all offseason that the Oregon defensive line may be embarking on dominant run. With as many as eight or even nine guys capable of playing, the Ducks figure to not only match talent against talent, but wear down offensive lines. On Saturday, the Ducks had six sacks of Nicholls State quarterbacks, five of those coming from the defensive line. There were times when the defensive linemen looked a little less than dialed in as the game got nutty, but they got off to a good start for what many hope is a great season. Defensive ends Tony Washington and Taylor Hart were particularly active in this one.
Next Up: Torrodney Prevot?
It was hard not to notice Torrodney Prevot during Saturday's game, though he started the afternoon on the bench. Prevot announced his considerable talent the first two times the Ducks kicked off, outracing everyone to make the tackle both times. The true freshman linebacker was a star in Texas and offered a look at his vast potential in the opener. By the time the game was over, Prevot had 3 solo tackles, 2 assists, a sack and a forced fumble to his stat line. But more than that, when he was in the game, he seemed to be everywhere. Hang onto his name. He'll be a playmaker for the Ducks defense.
Helfrich: Up For The Challenge
What is the biggest difference between old coach Chip Kelly and new coach Mark Helfrich? We can stop wondering. Helfrich seems more stylish on the sidelines. Other than that, Helfrich demonstrated more than enough burglar's guts to assuage Oregon fans. He's going to follow Chip Kelly nicely. The Ducks went for it on fourth down three times, converting only once against the outmanned Nicholls State defense. They also created turnovers, went for the big plays and played at a tempo that required them to run only 71 plays to score 66 points. Bottom line: The team didn't look much different.
Punt Coverage Gets Incomplete Grade
The Ducks didn't punt once in Saturday's game, so we can't evaluate the punt team. At some point, the ability to punt and cover effectively will be important for Oregon ... right?