As if Oregon didn't have enough going for it each week given its impressive array of talent. The Ducks have the added benefit of a talented trio of wide receivers with the ability to visualize the game from Heisman-contending QB Marcus Mariota's perspective.
Oregon wide receivers Bralon Addison, Daryle Hawkins and Josh Huff each played quarterback in high school, and they were stars at the position. In fact, Hawkins saw time at the position for the Ducks during the 2010 season, and Addison was a first-team all-state QB in Texas in his senior season.
Now, coming out of high school, there are a lot of quarterbacks in every college team's recruiting class. Many quarterbacks are recruited to play a different position at the next level. The fact that Oregon has ex-quarterbacks playing wide receiver is not unusual. But when you have three like they have, and they are all contributing in such a significant way -- that is rare.
We shouldn't underestimate the effect it's having on the cohesiveness of the Ducks' prolific offense.
Former Kansas State wide receiver Chris Harper, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks this year who is now with the San Francisco 49ers, started his college career at Oregon as a quarterback before moving to receiver and transferring to Kansas State. He told me last season that the best way he helped his quarterback, Collin Klein, is that he talked about the game with him through "quarterback eyes." Having played that position, he could come to the sideline or the huddle with things for Klein and give it to him like a quarterback would see it. He was not just seeing the game from the perspective of a receiver because he had played quarterback. He could communicate like a quarterback. It's one of the reasons New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is such a great play caller. He's a former quarterback, and he calls the game like one. He sees the game like a quarterback.
When those Oregon wide receivers communicate with Mariota, they can talk quarterback shorthand. They're not just saying 'From out here, this is what I see.' They will process what they see from there, take it and put it into quarterback terms. That's how they're helping this offense go.
Throw in the fact that they are terrific athletes and playmakers, that's just an extra advantage for them. Huff has 27 catches for 552 yards and five touchdowns. Addison also has made 27 grabs to rack up 502 yards and six TDs. Hawkins has nine receptions for 132 yards and two TDs.
I was on the call of the Oregon-Washington game last week, and saw Addison in pre-game warmups. He was throwing the ball around, but he wasn't just tossing it. He was throwing it like he was getting ready to play quarterback. I said, 'You can't give up those quarterback days, can you? They never leave you.' He looked at me, laughed and said, 'Man, no they don't.'
The Ducks are fortunate that these former QBs have embraced and are excelling at a different position while remembering what helped them succeed at their old one.
CBs to watch on Saturday
Two big-time corners will be on display when TCU visits Oklahoma State on Saturday. TCU's Jason Verrett will probably be challenged a little more in the game because Oklahoma State is more proficient throwing the ball, but keep an eye on the Cowboys' Justin Gilbert. He has good size, length and strength. He excels much more in press coverage. Last season he didn't play quite as well as he did in 2011, but he has bounced back, and he's a dual threat as a playmaking kick returner.