With last week’s hiring of Scott Frost as offensive coordinator, new head coach Mark Helfrich finds even more continuity on one of the most stable coaching staffs in the country. Previously wide receivers coach, Frost brings both a winning attitude and experience on both sides of the ball.
He began his college career as a quarterback for Stanford before transferring to Nebraska and compiling a 24-2 record as the Cornhuskers’ starting quarterback. Before graduating, he became just the 10th player to rush for at least 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 more in the same season. Oh, and he beat Peyton Manning’s Tennessee Volunteers to win the 1997 National Championship.
In the NFL, Frost bounced a bit, notably playing safety for the New York Jets under head coach Bill Parcells. He was hired as the Ducks’ wide receiver coach in 2009 after stints in Northern Iowa.
But all of that is trivia.
What matters now is how the Ducks’ offense will evolve under Helfrich and Frost. Here are two potential methods Oregon’s offense could use to maintain its hallmark constant scoring.
Jeff Maehl 2.0? Few will argue Oregon’s bread and butter is its rushing attack. In fact, with junior Josh Huff’s nagging injuries, the Ducks haven’t had a go-to wideout since Jeff Maehl graduated in 2011. That could change next season as true freshman Bralon Addison gains confidence, but Oregon fans should also be excited for incoming freshman Devon Allen.
Allen, who is expected to sign a letter of intent with the Ducks on National Signing Day, matches Maehl’s exact dimensions (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), and could be a good deal faster — he plans to run track for the Ducks and had thought about trying to walk on to the football team until quarterback Bryan Bennett transferred.
Bennett’s move freed open a scholarship spot, and the Phoenix native got the call from Frost.
Aloha, Marcus. Senior running back Kenjon Barner’s graduation leaves a hole in Oregon’s backfield. Will-be junior De’Anthony Thomas will likely handle a heavier workload, but Thomas has never been used as a traditional back in his collegiate career. Will-be sophomore Byron Marshall could immediately help Thomas — as could five-star incoming freshman Thomas Tyner — but what if the Ducks’ running game falters early?
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the best pure passer Oregon has seen since maybe Joey Harrington. The Hawaii native set the school’s single-season record for total touchdowns with 38 (32 passing, 5 rushing, 1 receiving), passing a mark shared by Darron Thomas and Akili Smith. He also set the school’s mark for completion percentage at 68.5 and had a shot at breaking the NCAA freshman record of 69.7.
How much better can he get? Oregon fans could find out, especially if the Ducks are forced to rely on Mariota’s arm while the backfield rotation gets settled.