Originally posted on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 4/11/14
Bralon Addison tight ropes the sideline for a touchdown catch versus Washington last season. The Ducks face the challenge of replacing their most dynamic receiver and return man, lost for the season after a knee injury suffered yesterday at practice (Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports images). The game is quick and cruel and demands resilience. Oregon’s conference and national title hopes were dealt a challenge yesterday when Bralon Addison went down in practice with a non-contact knee injury. Today Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sports Northwest and others are reporting that the Ducks leading returning receiver has a torn ACL, out for the year. Addison caught 61 passes last season for 890 yards and 7 tds. The junior was also the conference’s best punt returner with a 14.1 yard average and 2 tds. The junior from Texas would have been Marcus Mariota’s go-to target in clutch situations. His loss leaves the team without four of its top five receivers from 2013. With the shifty Addison gone, Josh Huff, Darryl Hawkins graduated, and De’Anthony Thomas departed for the NFL draft, the Oregon passing game is missing 168 receptions, 2623 yards and 24 touchdowns. The loss of Bralon and DAT leaves a huge hole in the Webfoot’s explosive return game as well. Coupled with the injury to Darren Carrington, who has his right hand in a cast, and Pharaoh Brown attending practice on crutches, Marcus Mariota’s offense has been dealt some awful blows just two weeks into spring practice. The long-term outlook for Carrington and Brown hasn’t been disclosed. Count them doubtful for the rest of spring, likely to be available in August. Thoughts go out to Addison, a team leader and a great playmaker who does have a redshirt year available after playing as a true freshman, starting as a sophomore. With surgery and rehab in his immediate future, Scott Frost has to reassess the plan with decisiveness and clarity. He still has Mariota, the nation’s best quarterback, a veteran offensive line,  a tandem of running backs in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner that produced 1753 yards and 23 tds last year. Odds are good that the Ducks can recover and prevail in this challenge, but they may have to slingshot around the moon. The run/pass distribution might change. Keanon Lowe becomes more important. From a stable of talented young players, Matt Lubick has to find two or three who are ready to become highly productive impact players, right now. It’s a little like 2009 when the Ducks lost LeGarrette Blount to an ill-advised punch in game one, and Walter Thurmond to a season-ending knee injury in game three. That time went to the Rose Bowl. Chip Kelly said at the time, “There is no waiver wire in college football.” Now as then, the team and the fans have to resist the temptations to lower expectations or accept excuses. Bralon has to miss a year, but it would dishonor his effort and commitment to fail to compete with the same intensity he showed laying out for passes at the sideline. What Frost and Helfrich do have is a wealth of fast athletes who were recruited for an opportunity like this one. Freshman Jalen Brown struggled the first couple of days of spring practice, but he’s already making plays. Rob Moseley cited him for a pair of dandy catches yesterday. Freshman Charles Nelson and Tony James, who join the team in June, are both dynamic returners, faster than Addison, sure-handed with the coverage bearing down on them. You’d rather have a veteran quarterback with rookie receivers than the reverse. Chance Allen, this is your chance. B.J. Kelley, it’s time to harness that 10.7 speed and display the big-catch acumen you showed as a 1200-yard receiver in high school, averaging over 20 yards a catch. Lubick’s a master teachers who stresses precise routes and attention to detail, a positive taskmaster who’s tutored 1000-yard receivers at several coaching stops. This is the kind of challenge that got him the Oregon job. Carrington will recover and get a chance to make an impact. Devon Allen is among the fastest men on the team. The Ducks are blessed at tight end with three athletic guys who showed a lot of promise last season combining for 30 catches and 475 yards, 5 tds. Baylis and Mundt are hard workers, Pharaoh Brown also once he recovers. They’ve all added strength and improved their blocking. The tight ends will have an opportunity to show they’re ready to become a bigger part of the offense. As a smart, veteran leader Mariota has the rest of the spring and all summer to establish rapport and groom the young receivers, to teach them where he wants them and where the ball will be coming out of their break. They all came to Oregon for the opportunity to hear the cheers in Autzen Stadium. The Ducks have lost a great player. These others have greatness thrust upon them. In the battle of “you versus yesterday,” part of yesterday becomes all the great things Bralon Addison did in an Oregon uniform in his first two seasons. From Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup and youtube channel madmike1951, the Addison highlight file. Thanks for the memories, Bralon, and come back soon:
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