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No Mariota, No Problem – Oregon Offense Thrives in Spring Game

People won’t realize it right away, but sports analysts and their pocketbook of phrases and attempts at quirkiness are more than enough to drive you insane.

However, Oregon’s broadcaster at the Ducks’ annual Spring Game belted a ballad ever so true.

“The Oregon offense’s equation is completely opposite for 2015 than it was in 2014.”

You see, for former Oregon quarterback and now a potential foundation for the Tennessee Titans Marcus Mariota, 2013’s success under center was in large part due to the dynamic speed and reliable hands at wide receiver with Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas.

Both tallying significant rookie seasons for their respected clubs in 2014, Mariota was left short-handed, as the lone notable returning starter was that in Bralon Addison.

However, a year-ending knee injury in spring practice caused a blow to the skill position, even with the Ducks two-stepping (or swimming) to the National Championship game later that year.

Oregon’s Green versus Gold game displayed the stockpile of speed and athleticism at the receiver and tailback slots, yet the Ducks hadn’t established a quarterback that was a sure fire answer for ’15.

Junior Jeff Lockie made an impressive case to be that guy.

The junior completed all nine of his attempts, burning the defense for 223 yards and three scores.

Not only did Lockie seem comfortable and poised in the pocket, he went through his progressions nicely, and leadership was displayed in more ways than one, whether it be congratulating teammates on a touchdown or taking matters into his own hands.

While Oregon has Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams (eligible for 2016), the quarterback duel may have officially come to a screeching halt.

As for the receivers, it’s almost ridiculous.

26 October 2013: Oregon Ducks wide receiver Bralon Addison (11) during the game  between UCLA Bruins and the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.

Now healthy, Bralon Addison should be one of the top targets on another lethal Oregon offense.

With a healthy Bralon Addison, they add the ability to rush to the outside with sweeps (Addison also threw for a touchdown off a pitch) and ease the pressure on running backs Royce Freeman and Byron Marshall.

You then add a trio of wideouts in Darren Carrington, Devon Allen and Dwayne Stafford, three Ducks who combined for over 2,000 yards and 17 total receiving scores.

There won’t be a weak link on the outside when Oregon lines up for offense.

And let’s not forget Charles Nelson.

Primarily a member of the secondary, he recorded a pick-six on defense, all while hauling in five passes for 144 yards and a couple of scores when placed at wide receiver.

Although it’s not etched in stone where Nelson will play to begin the 2015 season, offensive coordinator Scott Frost noted that Nelson is foremost a defensive player. But imagine the addition (as if they needed it) of speed to an already-shifty receiving corps.

The Pac-12 is up for grabs. In Eugene, however, there will be no shortage of points.

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