Oregon Football: 5 Biggest Challenges for Scott Frost
Lost in the major coaching change that took place at Oregon in January was the promotion of Scott Frost to offensive coordinator.
Frost brings with him an impressive on-field resume from his playing days at Nebraska in the '90s, but his previous stint as Oregon's wide receivers coach is what led to his rise in the coaching ranks.
Duck receivers haven't exactly lit the world on fire over the past few seasons, but their toughness, blocking and usually soft hands have made for a very underrated group that has been crucial to recent success.
With his new position, Frost now faces a variety of different challenges than the ones given to him in his old spot. For one, he's working with multiple units as opposed to just the receivers, and with Marcus Mariota's rapid development as an elite quarterback, it'll be up to Frost to put him in position to make plays.
The team appears ready to go in terms of both talent and experience. The doubters will point to changes in the coaching staff as potential reasons for a letdown season.
Here are the five biggest challenges Scott Frost will face in 2013.
5. Establishing Own Identity
Chip Kelly was the face of the Oregon Ducks over the past five years, and you couldn't talk about the Ducks offense without bringing up new wrinkles or exciting concepts drawn up by Kelly.
It will take a combined effort from both Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost to sustain the level of success on offense that fans are accustomed to seeing.
But Frost isn't Chip Kelly, and he must establish his own identity through play-calling.
Will Frost push Helfrich to be aggressive on fourth down, or will he opt for a more conservative approach? What will the run/pass balance (which I'll touch on again later) look like? Does his play-calling help the offense or put it in a hole?
Perhaps most importantly, what kind of adjustments can Frost make on the fly?
All of these questions will be crucial for Frost in establishing his own identity as the offensive coordinator. Many of Kelly's ideas and plays will stay, and they should considering their success rate.
But Scott Frost must begin to put his own stamp on the offense if the program is to continue moving forward.
4. Getting Thomas Tyner Up to Speed
The incoming freshman class will arrive in Eugene over the summer, each player with hopes of one day playing a key role for the Ducks. The coaches will get every one of them ready for the season and do their best to make sure they are up to speed.
Whoever understands the offense and appears physically ready for collegiate football will play. The others will redshirt. The entire class is in the starting gate, and not one player has improved his chances of playing more than another.
But fans know that the development of Thomas Tyner could play a key role this season and will undoubtedly be a major factor in the success of the offense over the next few years.
Not all recruits were created equally, and while Frost will obviously treat each one the same way and do his best to get everybody prepared for the season, all eyes will be on Tyner and the progress he makes during fall camp.
What kind of running back Tyner will end up being for the Ducks is still speculation, and it will remain that way until Nicholls State arrives in Autzen on August 31. But it's not very often that you can bring in a guy with his skill set, which is seemingly perfect for the Ducks offense.
One of Frost's challenges for next season will be handling the growth of this talented but unproven freshman.
3. Taking on Increased Responsibilities
The switch from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator will bring a major increase in responsibilities for Scott Frost.
His days of working with and recruiting only wide receivers are over.
This could end up as a good thing, because spending time with other position groups on offense may lead to new ideas. But Frost will have to manage his time more carefully and make sure that the entire offense gels and gets brought up to speed at the same rate.
And while the pressure is on Helfrich as the new face of the program, there is a lot more on Frost as well.
How Scott Frost manages his increased responsibilities will go a long way in determining how successful the Ducks offense is in 2013 and beyond.
2. Finding a Run/Pass Balance
There has been plenty of talk amongst the Oregon fanbase that Scott Frost's promotion to offensive coordinator will lead to a more pass-heavy offense.
Finding that balance will be a major challenge for Frost next season.
On one hand, the group of receivers is as talented and deep as it has been in quite some time. Josh Huff is a big-play senior, Keanon Lowe and Daryle Hawkins are each productive, experienced starters and Bralon Addison appears set for a breakout season.
Then there's B.J. Kelley, Dwayne Stanford, Eric Dungy and several incoming freshmen who will also be vying for playing time.
Add all that to an offense led by one of the most impressive young quarterbacks in the game, and you can understand why many feel that the passing game will play a much larger role next season.
Of course, the running back group isn't too shabby either, and the ground game has been the identity of this offense for several years now. It has produced outstanding results, and the trio of De'Anthony Thomas, Byron Marshall and the incoming Thomas Tyner is as talented a group of backs as there is in the country on a team not named Alabama.
Why fix what's not broken?
It's not as if the offense could have done much more last season with the exception of the Stanford contest. Yet the talent is in place to be equally effective through the air and on the ground.
It's an issue that Frost has likely considered all offseason, and finding a balance between the passing game and the rushing attack will be a major challenge for the new offensive coordinator.
1. Solving Stanford
We can sit and talk all day about potential changes to the offense in 2013, what must happen for continued success and the players who are poised for breakout seasons.
But last year really boiled down to the game against Stanford in which the Ducks were held to just 14 points, nearly 40 below their season average.
Yes, Oregon piled up plenty of points against the Cardinal in 2010 and 2011, but the 2013 version looks meaner than ever. And in a "what have you done for me lately" world, the Ducks are currently on the short end of the budding rivalry with Stanford.
Despite what coaches preach about taking things one day at a time, it's a safe bet that Scott Frost has taken a look at the Stanford tape a time or two since the Fiesta Bowl. And I would double down if that bet also accounted for the time Frost will spend before the start of the season coming up with a few ideas for solving Stanford's mighty defense.
The offense was spectacular in 2012 and will likely create plenty of headlines again in 2013. But I repeat—for all the questions about what kind of changes this group will make as next season approaches, it was one game from a perfect regular season.
And it's that one game, and that one team in particular, that Scott Frost must have a plan for when the matchup takes place in early November.
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