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Oregon Preview 2006 - Offense
Oregon Ducks
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Oregon Ducks Preview 2006 - Oregon Duck Offense

What you need to know ... The move to the spread offense was a success finishing 18th in the nation in total offense and 12th in scoring. A late-season injury to QB Kellen Clemens allowed Brady Leaf and Dennis Dixon to see meaningful playing time, and now they should hit the ground running in a two-quarterback system. Top receiver Demetrius Williams is gone, but there's plenty of returning talent at receiver to hope for a sure-thing number one target to emerge. The line will be the best in the Pac 10 with all five starters returning, but it has to be better at run blocking. The time is now for top prospect Jonathan Stewart to shine as the featured tailback.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Dennis Dixon
69-104, 777 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Stewart
53 carries, 188 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: James Finley
57 catches, 571 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QBs Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Cameron Colvin
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Jaison Williams
Best pro prospect: Senior C Enoka Lucas
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Lucas, 2) OT Max Unger, 3) RB Jonathan Stewart
Strength of the offense: Offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Sure-thing number one receiver, proven running game

Kellen Clemens was better than you think. Give credit to the coaching staff and backups Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf for being ready to rock and roll when Clemens was lost for the season in early November. Now the injury appears to be a blessing in disguise as the combination of Dixon and Leaf got meaningful time. Leaf was supposed to be just a passer and Dixon just a runner, but they each showed they can do everything relatively well. Dixon is the better fit for the attack, but Leaf is too good to keep out of the mix.
The key to the unit: Don't let the platooning quarterback situation kill any momentum. A two quarterback system hardly ever works out well; Dixon and Leaf can't be looking over their shoulders every time they make a mistake.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5

Projected Starter
- Dennis Dixon, Jr. - 69-104, 777 yds, 66%, 6 TD, 3 INT, 49 carries, 143 yds, 2.9 ypc, 1 TD
Considered the future of the offense coming into last year, he was thrown into the mix after Kellen Clemens got hurt and became a clutch playmaker with his arm as well as his legs. A better fit for Gary Crowton's spread offense than Brady Leaf because of his mobility, he'll get most of the work despite splitting time again. He bulked up a little bit getting close to 200 pounds on his skinny 6-4 frame, and he should be able to take more of a pounding.

Top Backups
- Brady Leaf, Jr. - 48-82, 467 yds, 59%, 3 TD, 3 INT
While not the passer his cousin Ryan was, the 6-5, 231-pound junior has a live arm and will likely spend more time this year in more situations than pure passing drives. While he's not the runner who'd ideally fit what the offense would like to do, he's not immobile. Don't be shocked if he grows into such an effective passer that he takes over more of the workload from Dennis Dixon.
- Kyle Bennett, Soph. - 1-2, 4 yds
Bennett saw a little bit of mop up duty in the blowout over Oregon State last year, and garbage time appears to be all the work he'll see this year barring a disaster. He's at a bit 6-4, 200-pound passer, but he won't be more than the number three emergency man.

Running Backs
The ground game has to be more productive. The talent is there to do it with 2005 super-recruit Jonathan Stewart waiting to break out now that he has the number one job. He's big, fast and very good, but he has to average more than 3.5 yards per carry. Jeremiah Johnson and Terrell Jackson are quick backups who'll add more flash to the backfield.
The key to the unit: Be able to carry the offense. In a perfect spread offense world, the quarterback ends up being one of the team's leading rushers. The more Stewart and the boys carry the load, the easier it'll be to play Brady Leaf more.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Jonathan Stewart, Soph. - 53 carries, 188 yds, 3.5 ypc, 6 TD, 7 catches, 45 yds, 6.4 yp, 1 TD
After arriving with all the fanfare of a superstar recruit, Stewart had a decent true freshman season in a limited role. It took half the year to become a part of the mix, but he started to get more and more meaningful work. Expected to be a superstar with great quickness to go along with the power of a 5-11, 234-pound back, the time is now to shine as long as he can stay healthy and be durable.

Top Backups
- Jeremiah Johnson, Soph. - 24 carries, 147 yds, 6.1 ypc, 2 TD, 4 catches, 30 yds, 7.5 ypc
With 213-pound size and great breakaway speed, he'll be a nice change-of-pace behind Jonathan Stewart. He ran for 63 yards on 11 carries against Stanford, but failed to see too much more work the rest of the year with the emergence of Stewart. His ability to pick up blocks will mean more playing time.
- Terrell Jackson, Soph. - 27 carries, 107 yds, 4 ypc, 8 catches, 37 yds, 4.6 ypc
Jackson was Oregon's first high school running back recruit in almost a decade and showed off good flashes of speed and nice moves in a limited role. While he's not all that big at 5-9 and 190 pounds, he's a shifty back who's great at making things happen out of nothing. After being out of the mix over the second half of last year thanks to injuries, he'll play a more prominent role.

Despite the loss of number one target and deep threat Demetrius Williams, the receiving corps has the potential to grow into a strength if Cameron Colvin can make a step up in his overall production and become a more dangerous playmaker. James Finley is a steady veteran who'll be a great complement to whoever is the big-play man. The real excitement is over huge Jaison Williams and young speedster Derrick Jones; they'll need to be big factors over the next few years. Former fullback Donte Rosario is too good a tight end to be ignored.
The key to the unit: The size, speed and talent are in place. Now someone has to step up and become Demetrius Williams.
Receiver Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Cameron Colvin, Jr. - 22 catches, 332 yds, 15.1 ypc, 3 TD
While he hasn't been consistently great, he has shown enough flashes of brilliance to be considered the team's best combination of experience and explosiveness. He's a big 6-2, 205-pound target with sub-4.4 speed, but he has to make more big plays and use his wheels to get deep more. After catching two touchdown passes in the first two games, he caught one the rest of the way.

- James Finley, Sr. - 57 catches, 571 yds, 10 ypc, 2 TD
The former JUCO transfer stepped in right away and became the team's number two receiver. He started out the season hot with a ten catch day against Houston and finished with a nine-grab day in the Holiday Bowl loss to Oklahoma, and was solid in between showing off great hands and an ability to work himself open in the spread attack.

- Bryan Paysinger, Jr. - 6 catches, 70 yds, 11.7 ypc
Purely a reserve so far, the 6-2, 208-pound has been around long enough to make more of an impact. Size isn't an issue at 6-2 and 208 pounds, and speed is no problem with 4.39 wheels. Now the light has to turn on.

- Tight end Dante Rosario, Sr. - 15 catches, 168 yds, 11.2 ypc, 2 TD
Will the coaching staff be able to figure out what to do with him? While he's a great all-around player, his strength is his blocking ability, but the former fullback doesn't have his true position to play, so he had to grow into the role of tight end/H-back. He has the size at 6-4 and 250 pounds to continue to be a factor for the ground game, and he also showed off good hands last year catching at least one pass in every game but two.

Top Backups
- Jaison Williams, Soph. - 15 catches, 245 yds, 16.3 ypc, 3 TD
Here's the one to watch out for. Williams has a scary-good blend of skills with track speed in a 6-5, 243-pound body. He has been clocked at 10.65 in the 100-meter dash and showed off a little bit of his talent last year highlighted by a 66-yard scoring play against Oregon State. He'll start off behind Cameron Colvin but will quickly find his way into the mix.
- Derrick Jones, Fr.
Fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. Jones was close to being a USC Trojan and has been out of the mix for the last two seasons. Now he arrives as one of the team's fastest players as the winner of the 200-meters in the 2004 California state meet and finished fifth in the 100 running a 10.3. Obviously he'll be used as a deep threat.
- Jordan Kent, Sr. - 3 catches, 114 yds, 38 ypc, 1 TD
A big 6-5, 210-pound target, Kent saw a little bit of action last year and was a huge playmaker on his three catches with a 41-yard play against Montana and a 68-yard touchdown against Washington State. He'll play behind Brian Paysinger.
- Dan Kause, Sr. - 2 catches 19 yds, 9.5 ypc
Oregon doesn't really use a fullback for anything and it only uses an H-Back part of the time. But when it does, Kause will likely be the man. He hasn't been able to stay healthy with a variety of problems, but the 6-4, 252-pound senior can catch.

Offensive Linemen
The potential is there for this to be the league's best line with all five starters returning. It's a big group that got bigger this off-season with massive JUCO transfers Fenuki Tupou and Pat So'oalo added on the left side. With so much size, there's no excuse not to be better in the running game; it needs to be a more physical unit. That's an easy transition to make considering everyone took to the spread offense so quickly.
The key to the unit: The ground game has to average more than 3.8 yards per carry. With the talent in the backfield, if the Ducks aren't better, it's the line's fault.
Offensive Line Rating: 9

Projected Starters
- OT Max Unger, Soph.
Unger stepped in from the JUCO ranks and turned into an all-star caliber tackle on the left side. While not as huge as several of the other Duck linemen, he's a strong 6-5, 296-pound blocker who has the athleticism to play either tackle spot and the power to play guard in a punch. He'll be an All-Pac 10 performer on the left side.
- OG Josh Tschirgi, Jr.
What he lacks in talent he makes up for in heart. He started nine games last year at left guard and was a big better in run blocking than a pass protector. The 311-pound junior will be pushed hard by 355-pound JUCO transfer Pat So'oalo.
- C Enoka Lucas, Sr.
The long-time starter will be in the hunt for all-star honors in the middle. He had a great season after struggling through 2004 with a thumb injury, and now he's the leader of the line with 20 career starts. After handling the change to the spread offense without a problem, he'll be even better making the line calls.
- OG Palauni Ma Sun, Sr.
One of the Pac 10's top JUCO recruits coming into last year, the massive 6-6, 335-pound senior turned into a steady starter. He got into better shape dropping thirty pounds and is now back to being quick enough to play tackle if needed.
- OT Geoff Schwartz, Jr.
An imposing 6-7 and 359 pounds, Schwarttz turned into a nice pass protector showing off surprising athleticism as the year went on. He still needs some polish and will always struggle with speed rushers, but he should be a rock at right tackle if he can keep the engine running at all times.

Top Backups
- OG Pat So'oalo, Jr.
The 6-5, 355-pound JUCO transfer from Fresno City College is a powerful run blocker and should push for a spot at both guard spots to add more bulk to the already large line. Can he handle being a consistent pass protector? That'll be the difference between being a steady backup and taking over a starting spot.
- OT Fenuki Tupou, Jr.
At 6-6 and 322-pounds, Tupou is a much bigger option than Max Unger on the left side. While he won't take over the starting spot, the JUCO transfer is a big-time run blocker and could end up moving to guard if a starting spot opens.

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