Increasing Depth Allowing Ducks to Experiment

With four running backs capable of starting in most systems in division one football, three veteran tight ends, and a handful of explosive athletes at the wide receiver position, new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick's biggest problem is finding creative ways to get them all on the field.

Eugene, Ore-- Historically, the University of Oregon's football program is not one to shy away from doing things differently. The flashy uniforms, the game-changing style of offensive play, the insanely alluring team facilities, and as of late the will to move players around to different positions. Experimenting with versatility is becoming a common practice in Eugene: John Loyd was an electric special teams addition acquired from the Oregon basketball program two years ago, last year Charles Nelson moved from his primary spot at wide receiver over to the defensive side to help with safety depth (and back to receiver this year), and the recruitment of athletes like Kirk Merritt that have the ability to play any position on the field all attest to this. Now, It looks like the position shuffling will continue into the 2016 season as new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick attempts to cram as much talent onto the field at once. 

"We're able to experiment putting those guys in different spots because of their skill sets," Lubick said today after practice, "All those guys can run and they can catch, so as an offense that enables you to do a lot of things." One of the factors that makes the Ducks' offense so dynamic is that in Oregon's system, running backs are responsible for the receiver playbook in addition to their own in order to create a headache for the opposition. "If a defense is studying us, you don't know if he's gunna be in the backfield, you don't know if he's gunna be in the slot," Lubick explained in regards to the expectations the has from his running backs. 

With so many skill players ranging from running backs, receivers, and tight ends it can be hard to fit all of the talent on the field at once. Towards the end of last season, Taj GriffinTony Brooks-James, and Kani Benoit all fought for extra time on the field behind Royce Freeman and they all flashed moments of brilliance in this Ducks offense. "You can only have 11 people, I think, on the field at the same time," Lubick joked today. Lubick is still trying to figure out what his offenses best personnel group is and admitted that it might not be something that they figure out this spring. "It might be two tights, it might be two backs, it might be four wides... I don't think that will be solved until fall camp. But it gives us a lot of flexibility and it makes it a lot of fun."

Injury Update :

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule is still not a full participant in spring practices. Kaumatule confirmed today that it has been a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice since April 1st--where he was seen leaving practice on crutches. He is walking around under his own power and participating in film sessions and noted that he expects to be back practicing soon.

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