What was your reaction when Bralon Addison got hurt? Does someone need to step into the role as the number one wide receiver? What was it like throwing passes to the receivers without Addison in the mix? Is there an individual who can put up the type of numbers that Addison and Josh Huff did last year? It became a recurring question, covering all angles of the effect Addison’s injury has on the offense, after it was made clear Thursday that the junior wide receiver would miss an extended period of time.
Although, as Marcus Mariota has continued to show by his collected manner on the field when handling adversity, he answered all of the concerns in stride following Monday’s practice.
“It’s hard to replace someone like Bralon, he’s a special talent,” Mariota said. “At the same time a lot of these younger guys are stepping up and hopefully we’re able to see it out of these younger guys.”
With Huff and Addison’s presumed absence for 2014, Mariota will lose a combined 3,068 receiving yards, 123 receptions and 19 touchdowns from his output last season. The redshirt senior, though, has continued to mold into a vocal initiator and head coach Mark Helfrich has not had to prod him about his leadership skills at all this spring.
“His leadership is definitely better,” Helfrich said of Mariota. “He is much more comfortable in that role and has done a great job.”
Mariota worked with the receivers group about three to four times a week over the winter and expressed no concern about its depth, which now, aside from senior Keanon Lowe, had a combined output of ten catches for 134 yards last season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of these young guys stepping up,” Mariota said. “I think any one of those guys can step up and be that guy. They have the ability and talent to go out there and produce.”
Helfrich also noted Mariota’s smooth nature on the football field, saying that it was the only thing he has had to work on with the often rhythmic feel he brings to his game.
“He is so smooth and confident,” Helfrich said. “It’s not that easy for everybody else, so if you see that third string running back cruising or coasting, that is where you need to assert yourself as a sense of urgency type of pace-setter and from that standpoint he’s gotten a lot better. You can’t be that smooth on a football field and get everyone’s attention, which is a great problem.”
Overall, the task of facilitating an even more inexperienced group of pass catchers does not seem too tall for the preseason Heisman candidate. At least not yet.
- According to Erick Dargan, the defensive back has continued to make a presence on the defensive side of the ball, intercepting at least one ball a practice in scrimmages.
“He’s practicing well and on the football field he is doing really well, a good job as a leader,” Helrich said. “He’s made a ton of plays. He doesn’t always look the part but he makes a ton of plays.”
- Wide receiver Darren Carrington said post-practice that he expects to miss the remainder of spring football, including the spring game on May 3. Carrington was ruled out indefinitely with a wrist injury last week.
- Helfrich said that defensive lineman Sam Kamp is as close as he’s ever been during his stint at Oregon to being 100 percent healthy. Kamp came into this spring camp with an added 30 extra pounds on his frame.
“He definitely needs to learn how to carry it on a football field and find that sweet spot weight-wise like all of us,” Helfrich said. “He’s done some good things.”
- The backup quarterback competition between Jeff Lockie and Jeff Rodrigues remains even into week three, with redshirt freshman Taylor Alie also receiving reps.
“Those guys did some good things in the scrimmage, also a couple things they wish they could have back,” Helfrich said. “Jeff made a few more plays than Jake did overall. Taylor Allie also had a really good scrimmage.”
- Mariota also spoke about his new wide receiver Johnathan Loyd and what it has been like passing the ball to him in practice.
“It’s awesome,” Mariota siad. “He’s got good hands, that guy can really catch the ball. No matter what that dude’s an athlete.”
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25