Jeff Maehl was that guy for a couple of seasons.
Lavasier Tuinei had it locked down last year.
But now? The second-ranked Oregon football team doesn't seem to have that one go-to receiver.
Instead, they've got a slew of talented wideouts, a running back who doubles as a slot receiver and a bruising tight end who can catch the ball as well as anyone on the team.
So do the Ducks need one go-to guy?
They haven't so far, on the way to a 5-0 start. Whether that winds up being a negative thing in a close game down the road, we'll just have to wait and see, but for now, Oregon's stable of talented receivers has been doing just fine.
One thing that can't be overlooked when assessing Oregon's receivers is that downfield blocking is of paramount importance to the Ducks' offense, even moreso than in many other offenses. So statistics won't always do justice to the contributions of Oregon's receiving corps. Maehl and Tuinei were tremendous blockers, and among the current crop of receivers, Josh Huff stands out for his ability to neutralize defenders, freeing up lanes for running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, and for quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is averaging around seven rushing attempts per game.
But Huff has missed two of Oregon's five games with injuries, and has just three receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas is the team leader with 19 receptions -- he was second behind Tuinei last season -- and Bralon Addison, who scored on a nice 55-yard pass play against Arizona -- is second with 15. They are two of six Oregon players with at least 100 receiving yards, and only one of those six -- Dwayne Stanford -- doesn't have a touchdown catch.
Thomas leads the way there, too, with three touchdowns to go with 193 yards, and tight end Colt Lyerla has two receiving TDs among his nine receptions for 108 yards.
Addison (15 catches, 185 yards), Keanon Lowe (12 catches, 112 yards) and Barner (11 catches, 111 yards) are among the seven Ducks with one touchdown catch apiece.
Those guys might stand out -- just barely -- statistically among Oregon's receivers, but the talent pool is much deeper than that. Sixteen Ducks have at least one reception so far this year, and guys like Rahsaan Vaughn, Eric Dungy, Will Murphy and B.J. Kelley have the talent to be even more involved in the offense, if given the chance.
Aside from Thomas, the running back/receiver/returner, the 5-10, 189-pound Addison, a true freshman, might be the closest thing Mariota has to a go-to guy so far. But Lowe, a 5-9, 181-pound sophomore, isn't far behind. And Stanford is 6-5 and 195 pounds, a nice, big target who surely won't remain without a touchdown for long.
It's a young group, these Oregon receivers -- Murphy and Vaughn are the only seniors among them -- and there's no shortage of talent and freakish speed among them.
But is there a go-to guy?
We'll have to wait and see.
Adam Sparks has been following Oregon Ducks football since 1990, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.
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