Justin Herbert’s teammates gush that he has never been better. His leadership skills have grown immensely, altering the perception of his shy personality. He is receiving instruction from legends at his position. He is utilizing the summer break to better connect with his receivers. Long story short, Herbert is putting it all together for an epic senior season that I predict will be record shattering.
The projected top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, Herbert decided to forgo the Draft and come back for his senior season at Oregon. He returns to one of the best veteran offensive lines in the nation and a large array of weapons to sling the ball to. He’s in striking distance of many Oregon records. Which brings me to my prediction…
The senior will break Oregon’s record for career pass completions, set by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota with 779 completions.
Currently, Herbert has completed 541 passes in his Duck career, ranking him sixth on the list. He needs 239 more completions to top the list. Last season he completed 240 passes.
This prediction is based on:
Consistency from the receivers
Herbert completed 240 passes in a season that was plagued with dropped passes. An estimated 40-50 passes were dropped in 2018 and at times it seemed former receiver Dillon Mitchell was the only player who Herbert could depend on. Mitchell’s departure to the NFL means consistency is crucial this season, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight has set out to fix.
There are plenty of receivers vying for playing time and the competition has stepped up coming into the 2019-20 season. Between the new addition of graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, improved play from veterans Jaylon Redd, Brenden Schooler, Johnny Johnson III, a healthy Cam McCormick, plus freshman… Oregon should be able to match it’s passing numbers from last season.
Oregon’s offense must have a balanced attack between the ground and the air. In 2018, CJ Verdell became the third freshman in school history to run for 1,000 yards (LaMichael James, Royce Freeman). Along with Verdell, Oregon returns Travis Dye, Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Darrian Felix plus add recruiting class headliner Sean Dollars to the mix. If the Ducks are keep a similar balance of the rushing attack with Herbert’s cannon in coach Mario Cristobal's "power-tempo offense", the quarterback could reach this record.
If Herbert stays healthy
Herbert must be healthy and play a full season for this to happen, obviously.
Records don’t mean everything. However in this case, Herbert setting a new record for UO career pass completions would also indicate a strong receiving attack- which the Ducks would undoubtedly need in order to be Pac-12 title contenders.
Another streak to keep your eye on: Herbert enters his final season as a Duck with a streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, which is good for longest in the nation.