March 8, 2008

2007 Unit Rank #5: TE/HB

Duck Sports Authority begins its Spring Camp preparation with a final evaluation and ranking of the 2007 position units. Coming in at #5 in the unit rankings is Tight End/H-Back.

Season Unit Analysis: Tight End/H-Back

Summary Opinion: B This position was good and at times great last year with Ed Dickson as the primary contributor, but lack of depth and Dixon's injury kept this grade from being higher. Malachi Lewis showed great promise with limited opportunities towards the end of the season, but Ryan Keeling did not see the field as much as he should have projected. Like Lewis, Matt Larkin played plenty of special teams and played more of an H-back role than tight end when inserted into the offense. All players on this unit have work to do on their run blocking.

Key Players:

Ed Dickson SO - 43 catches, 453 yards, 3 TD's, 13 games - Excellent sophomore season, huge upside still.

Malachi Lewis FR - 3 catches, 26 yards, 13 games - More of an H-back than a tight end, Lewis added an explosive element to two TE sets.

Ryan Keeling JR - 1 catch, 10 yards, 5 games - Unable to separate himself enough to earn the #2 spot.

Matt Larkin JR - 1 catch, 10 yards, 12 games - Steady on special teams but not used in the offense.

David Paulson FR - Solid in practices but maintained redshirt.
Key Statistics: The difference in unit production between 2006 and 2007 is interesting because it compares two offensive coordinators and two different starters. Senior Dante Rosario started in 2006 for Gary Crowton and put up numbers just slightly less than Dickson did as a sophomore in 2007. Although the 13 percent touchdown contribution (representing three touchdowns) seems low, the unit only had two touchdowns in 2006 under Gary Crowton's version of the spread.

Unit % receptions, 2007: 18.5
Unit % receptions, 2006: 17.4
Unit % reception yardage, 2007: 17.0
Unit % reception yardage, 2006: 15.8
Unit % receiving TD's: 13.0
Unit average yards per catch: 10.5 yards

Season Improvement Rating: Slight decline (-0.08) All the positions that catch footballs had a decline in season improvement ratings in 2007 and tight end was no exception. While the overall level of tight end play seemed steady, its grades suffered following the injury to Dennis Dixon as the replacement quarterbacks at first struggled to even get the ball past the line of scrimmage. In the nine games with Dixon at quarterback, the tight ends had a 3.30 average grade, dropping to 2.25 in the four games without.

Best 2007 Game: California Eugene played host to College Gameday as the California Golden Bears barely survived for a win. The Ducks fumbled a certain last second touchdown through the edge of the end zone, a turnover and touchback by rule. Ed Dickson snagged six catches for 67 yards and Matt Larkin caught a key reception for a first down in the 24-31 home loss as the Ducks slipped to 4-1 for the season.

Unit MVP: Ed Dickson In 2006 Dante Rosario had 42 catches for 426 yards and one TD and earned Unit MVP honors so Dickson surely deserves the same. Pleasantly for the Ducks in 2008, Ed Dickson was a sophomore last year while the NFL's Rosario had his spread offense statistics as a senior. Dickson has upside particularly on the line of scrimmage where whatever strength and technique he gains over the next two years will make him more attractive to the NFL.

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