Previewing the Oregon Ducks: Wide Receivers
Coming into the 2009 season, the Oregon Ducks' wide receiver group lost some talent with the graduation of Jaison Williams and Terrence Scott. This year, the Ducks will look for contributions from all of their wideouts.
Before the season has even started, the group has taken a hit due to two transfers.
With the coaching transition that has gone on at Oregon, Aaron Pflugrad has decided to transfer after his father Robin didn't have his contract renewed.
Pflugrad just recently ended up at Arizona State.
More important than Pflugrad's transfer was the loss of Chris Harper. Harper spent much of his freshman year bouncing around different offensive positions, but it's clear that he has a natural gift.
Harper had the desire to play quarterback in college, and after realizing he would be used at wide receiver or running back at Oregon, he decided to transfer to Kansas State.
Even with these departures, the Ducks have a lot of targets for quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
The junior speedster will look to be a gamebreaker this year. After transferring from USC to Oregon, Holland will look to step into the spotlight this year and do so with his speed.
Holland will be the go-to guy, and the Ducks will look to get the ball in his hand in various formations. If Masoli has improved on his deep ball, teams could be forced to play deep, opening up the run.
D.J. Davis is another junior who will look to make an impact this year. After cracking the lineup last year, Davis suffered a knee injury that cut his season short.
Davis showed some promise last year and will look to build on that this year. I expect Davis to be the No. 2 receiver on the team by the middle of the season.
While Ed Dickson is a tight end by position, he has the surest hands on the team. Dickson had a strong 2008, ending up second in receiving yardage and fourth in receptions for the Ducks.
With the ability of players like Holland to spread the field deep, Dickson could become a deadly target across the middle.
New to the Ducks this year is junior transfer Tyrece Gaines. Gaines is 6'2" and 225 pounds and looks to be a playmaker. Gaines played the slot in junior college but will most likely be put out wide with the Ducks.
Gaines is already getting up to speed with the team and getting used to the change from junior college to Division I. Last year, the Ducks struck gold with junior college transfers LeGarrette Blount and Masoli, and I expect Gaines to live up to those standards.
Jeff Maehl will also be relied on to keep the chains moving and go across the middle. Maehl had a strong 2008, ending the year by scoring three touchdowns in his last four games.
Maehl is a guy that Masoli will be able to look to early and often, and he seems to have a nose for the first down marker. He has the build of a Wes Welker-type player and will be key to the Oregon air attack.
To go along with these talented wideouts, the Ducks will look for other receivers to step up. Rory Cavaille, Garrett Embry, Dion Jordan, and Blake Cantu are additional players that will see playing time and will have a chance to make a name for themselves.
With a running attack that seems to get stronger every year, the Oregon Ducks' passing attack should be able to take advantage of teams that will load up to stop the run. With a great combination of speed and playmakers, the Ducks receivers will continue to make things difficult on defenders.
While the Ducks do have solid depth throughout this group, they lack a true No. 1 receiver. After the first few weeks of the year, Holland may emerge as that player, but for now, that is the one thing lacking from this offense.
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