Ducks need someone to emerge in the passing game to help Mitchell

Oregon is in desperate need of a true No. 2 receiver to step up and help take the pressure off Mitchell and Herbert


Scouting the pass offense: If any Oregon receiver is going to emerge as a legitimate playmaker besides Dillon Mitchell, the will be the game to do so.

Mitchell, arguably the top wide receiver in the conference, has been unstoppable all season long to the tune of 68 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s been even better in Pac-12 play, ranking third in the nation with 125.9 receiving yards per game — accounting for nearly 40-percent of Oregon’s passing offense.

But where Oregon has struggled is because no other receiver has risen to the No. 2 spot as a compliment to Mitchell.

Jaylon Redd is second on the team with 28 catches for 344 yards and five touchdowns, but he’s been unable to consistently get open against man coverage, often being pushed off his route to disrupt his timing.

Johnny Johnson III entered the season as the No. 2 guy, showing downfield and big-play ability but this season, his inability to consistently catch the ball has been his downfall. However, he does have four touchdowns on 15 catches.

Even with their respective struggles, Redd and Johnson will be going up against an Oregon State defense that surrenders 267.4 passing yards per game, second worst in the Pac-12. The Beavers also give up 8.3 yards per attempt, a 161.03 quarterback rating and 32 touchdowns on the season, all conference worsts.

Cornerbacks Kaleb Hayes and Isaiah Dunn lead the Beavers with 13 combined pass break-ups while Shawn Wilson is the only member of the secondary with an interception.

For Oregon, it would be wise for quarterback Justin Herbert to look beyond Mitchell and go out of his way to get the other pass-catchers involved, whether it be Redd, Johnson or tight end Jacob Breeland.

Herbert, who’s thrown for 2,883 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season, could potentially be playing in his final game of the Civil War series as he’s draft eligible following the season. While a decision hasn’t been made, it would be a very good look if he were to dismantle Oregon’s in-state rival by showing off his ability to progress through his reads and get his entire offense involved.