Offensive explosion is something Oregon football has been known for over the years and even though the Chip Kelly era is long gone, Mario Cristobal is trying to bring back that electricity.
The Ducks ranked just No. 49 in the country last season in total offense and No. 42 in scoring but the pieces are in place for massive improvements in 2021. The Ducks return eight starters on offense, including all three receivers, four offensive linemen, and both leading running backs.
Although the quarterback position still needs to be sorted out with four guys vying for the starting job, the offense has plenty of depth and is set up for an explosive 2021 season.
The depth at just about every position is impressive, but what Oregon has at receiver is nothing short of scary for all opposing defenses.
There are the returning projected starters such as Johnny Johnson III, Jaylon Redd, and Mycah Pittman, but people aren’t talking enough about who’s behind them. Devon Williams led the team with 286 yards receiving last season and he’s one of my breakout star picks for 2021, Kris Hutson was a highly-touted recruit and returns as a redshirt freshman, Troy Franklin and Dont’e Thornton are top-100 players from the 2021 class, and Josh Delgado is an IMG Academy product with top-end potential.
Let’s talk about Delgado for a minute.
The talented slot receiver had a productive first season in 2019, catching 11 passes for 147 yards but saw his numbers dwindle in a pandemic-affected 2020 season with three receptions for 36 yards. He faded into the background last season as Jaylon Redd paced the slot position with 25 receptions for 281 yards and a touchdown.
With Redd entering his senior season and Delgado planted on the two-deep, there’s a good chance he could prove to be the best slot receiver on the roster with a solid fall camp.
It’s going to be tough to outperform Redd who has four years of experience already, but Delgado has the pure talent and has the toughness to compete. He’s not afraid of a battle.
What can Oregon football expect from Delgado in year three?
Year three of a redshirt sophomore Delgado could yield some impressive results. If he nearly hit 150 yards as a true freshman in 2019, I could see him at least double and maybe triple those numbers in 2021. He’s going to play quite a bit and he has the speed and route-running capabilities to make life difficult for defenses.
Redd is going to be the starter when the year begins, barring a huge August from Delgado, but don’t count out the latter to push for that starting job by the end of the season.
As long as Delgado proves that he’s going to be a solid contributor and valuable replacement for Redd in 2022 and beyond, Oregon fans can feel good about his role on the team.
We haven’t seen the best of Delgado yet, and we might just get a glimpse of that in 2021.