Northwest

Oregon's new-look offense features smashmouth football and 'a lot of shots' downfield

Northwest

Oregon’s offense will have a new look this season.

Justin Herbert is no longer under center and officially an NFL star, leaving a quarterback battle brewing in Eugene between Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown.

New offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has a daunting task of rebuilding an offensive line which has zero returning starters and lacks Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell, who has opted out to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

While the Ducks return some of the team’s most important scoring weapons like running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III, Oregon will certainly inject new life into its diverse offense as the team looks to compete for a second-straight Pac-12 title.  

How does the offense differ under Moorhead compared to Arroyo? 

“We’re taking a lot of shots in practice, and that’s what I’ve noticed. Tyler and the other quarterbacks, they’re opening up and it’s awesome,” Habibi-Likio said Tuesday. “I love that we’re taking shots, because it even softens up the defense for the run game and vice versa.”

This offseason, the junior running back says he purchased his own AirBnB and spent time down in San Diego working out. Habibi-Likio dropped about five pounds, gained some muscle, and feels more explosive than ever.

“I feel amazing,” Habibi-Likio said. “I really just stayed down in So-Cal just to dedicate myself to working out. What I really worked on was my straight line running and just getting faster.”

Habibi-Likio is impressed with the Ducks refined run game, and how “fluid” the Oregon offense is after only four practices. The Pac-12’s No. 3 returning receiver also feels as if his team is taking huge steps forward.

 

“The playbook’s really wide open,” Johnny Johnson III said. “They’ve got me playing a lot of different spots from inside to outside, all over the place, and I’m excited to see what we’re gonna do…

Yeah it’s a different offense, but we’re still taking shots like we used to. It’s going to be fun.

Johnny Johnson III

Like Habibi-Likio, Johnson didn’t let the coronavirus pandemic slow down his offseason grind. Johnson spent some time with his fellow “Arizona Duck,” Tyler Shough, working out in the desert.

That chemistry could pay off for the QB/WR duo, especially as Shough looks to prove he's the best candidate to replace Herbert as the Ducks lead signal caller.

“He’s resilient. He has a heart for the game. He gets guys together and gets guys juiced and ready to play," Johnson said of Shough. “I’m excited to see what he can do this year. He’s doing a great job right now. We’ll just see how this thing goes."

While the Ducks are installing a few new offensive wrinkles into their game as they prepare for their six-game slate beginning on Nov. 7, their style of play, for the most part, remains unwavering. 

“Same philosophy with smashmouth football and I think that’s always going to be here as long as Cristobal is here and I hope it is,” Habibi-Likio said. “But really just opening it up and going downfield. I know we want to start fast.”