The Oregon Ducks sported one of the country’s top offensive attacks in 2012 and look to continue that trend in 2013 with the return of Heisman Trophy hopefuls like Marcus Mariota at quarterback and DeAnthony Thomas as a running back, wide receiver hybrid. For the Ducks to continue their high-octane offense under new head coach Mark Helfrich, though, and return to the top of the Pac 12, the player they need to get more involved next fall is tight end Colt Lyerla.
The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Lyerla proved to be one of the most dynamic playmakers on the roster, which is saying something for a team with DAT on the roster. He touched the football 38 times last season and scored seven touchdowns, meaning he found the endzone every five or six touches. His 392 receiving yards and 25 receptions both ranked third on the team while his 5.92 yards per rush average ranked fourth behind Kenjon Barner, Mariota and Thomas.
In 2013, Lyerla needs to get even more touches to take advantage of the matchup problems he creates for defenses trying to account for him. The former high school running back and linebacker might be the most athletic tight end in the entire country next season and has shown the ability to line up anywhere on the field. Whether he is on the line of scrimmage, lined up in the slot, motioned into the backfield or wherever else the coaching staff wants to send him, he can make big plays happen if given the chance.
Helfrich has put an emphasis on expanding the passing game in 2013 and Lyerla should be one of the main targets. With the running game still a question mark without a clear every-down, between the tackles style of runner ready to step up, it will be even more important to give Mariota the weapons he needs in the passing game to succeed. There’s nobody on Oregon’s roster that can be a bigger weapon the Lyerla.
If given the touches, Lyerla could turn into a special playmaker for the Oregon offense in 2013 and take the entire team to the next level next fall.