There are still two weeks until Oregon begins spring practice, but that won’t keep us from looking ahead and making predictions about what we'll see in the spring game.
No. 4: The tight ends will become more involved in the passing game.
Why: After Colt Lyerla was suspended and left the team last season, Johnny Mundt and Pharaoh Brown both stepped up. Evan Baylis also came on, starting against Oregon State. Between those three, the Ducks have a group of tight ends with quality game experience and the physical ability to create some favorable mismatches, and with Marcus Mariota losing his No. 1 and No. 3 receivers after last season, there will be more catches to go around. Why not to the tight ends?
Mundt led the tight ends in receptions with 16. He recorded three touchdowns and averaged 21.6 yards per game, but his 17.6 yards per reception was third-best on the team. Brown recorded 10 catches in nine games and scored twice. Baylis was the only of these three tight ends not to score a touchdown and made just four catches, but his 17.8 yards per reception mark was second-best on the team.
Individually, that doesn’t seem like a lot of returning production, but consider that out of the tight ends, the Ducks got 30 receptions, 475 yards and five touchdowns. That’s quite a bit of production from a position group that doesn’t solely focus on receptions. With the experience these three gained last season, as well as the fact that so much experience was lost at wide receiver, there’s no reason this trio couldn’t account for at least 50 receptions, 650 yards and nine touchdowns this fall.
As a unit, these three averaged about 2.5 receptions per game last season. So let’s go out on a limb and say they double that in the spring game, tallying five catches and at least one touchdown.
Other spring game predictions:
No. 5: The D-line won’t be as far along as most hope