Oregon State had good success throwing to the tight end against the Buffalo defense, hook routes at the sticks, flat routes at the goal line, drag routes. So far Lyerla's junior season has been one of frustration, nagging injury, illness and false starts, and he's too talented to waste. The Ducks have three very talented tight ends and a four one with good work habits and potential, and a quarterback who's struggled to find his rhythm at times. High percentage throws to the tight end are a great way to loosen up a defense and get the offense going.
Getting Lyerla going will pay huge dividends as the Ducks enter the meat of the schedule. He's too good a weapon to waste, and there will be games later in the year that an outstanding game by a big, physical player will be a difference maker. He adds a dimension to the offense that no one else on the roster, not even Mundt, has. Lyerla is one of the biggest match up nightmares in the conference, the latest in a long line of exceptional tight ends at Oregon. He had 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons, but has just two catches for 26 yards so far this year. The Ducks need to get him going.
Expect Lyerla to have five catches, 100 yards and a touchdown this afternoon, and the announcers will single him out at least twice for key blocks on scoring runs on the edge.
A physical player who competes fiercely in the secondary, Mitchell has 16 tackles and an interception so far this season, playing about two and a half quarters a game for a defense that has blown out opponents and dominated the first half of games. Colorado's lone weapon on offense is Paul Richardson, one of the elite receivers in the country and a legitimate deep threat.
The Ducks secondary is so solid and deep that in choosing one side or the other to throw to, you're wrong either way. Last year teams tried Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and he burned them with four interceptions and six forced fumbles. They'll try Mitchell more this season, and they won't like what happens.
Look for T-Mitch to have six tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. He may even take one to the house.