As the Oregon Ducks prepare for another season, they are facing a litany of questions on the offensive side of the ball.
For starters, they still don’t have an offensive coordinator in place, so we can’t even be sure what type of attack they’ll be running. Beyond that, they have a lot to figure out in their wide receiver rotation.
It helps a great deal that last season’s leading receiver, Johnny Johnson III, is back in the fold. He finished with 57 receptions, 836 yards and seven touchdowns, emerging as one of the nation’s most dangerous long ball threats.
Still, Johnson is “only” 6’0”. He doesn’t have the build of a monster receiver who can grab passes out of the air amid tight coverage, particularly in the end zone.
Juwan Johnson is supposed to be that big body—and he was last season. He caught 30 passes for 467 yards and four touchdowns in limited action. But injuries ruined his first half of the year, and he won’t be back on Oregon next season. He is now a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
That leaves something of a gaping hole in the Ducks’ offense. They need another big body who can go up and snare difficult passes, and they don’t have a clear solution to said problem on the roster.
USC Trojans transfer Devon Williams is probably their best bet. At 6’4”, 210 pounds, he boasts the exact build needed to fill the void left by Juwan Johnson. But he’s not used to the type of volume the Ducks need. He played in just five total games during two seasons at USC, including only one last year.
Oregon needs to hope he can pan out in a bigger role. They’ll be hard-pressed to find alternatives. Lance Wilhoite, 6’3”, was supposed to be in the mix last year, but injuries forced him to red shirt. He has yet to take many reps while prepping for next season and could be limited in his first year back.
JR Waters is in the same boat. He is recovering from an injury and hasn’t yet been a full participant in Oregon’s offseason workouts. When next year rolls around, it’s possible he won’t be able to go at full bore.
That leaves Williams and almost only Williams for the time being. If he hits, the Ducks have a crack at sneaking into the top 15 of offensive output. If he can’t handle the extra volume, well, life will get harder for Johnny Johnson, and Oregon’s ceiling won’t be nearly as high.