Football coaches can often equate the sport to war. Not always intentionally, it’s just lingo. There are ‘battles’ and even ‘blitzes.’
In week two against Portland State, one term applied to the Oregon offense: reinforcements.
If Oregon’s week two 62-14 win against Portland State is any indication of what is to come for Oregon in 2018, then Duck fans have some new names on offense to learn. Not freshman, but graduate-transfers.
Wide receiver Tabari Hines and tight end Kano Dillon showed they can be weapons for quarterback Justin Herbert. As grad-transfers, they come with higher expectations than most newcomers, and so far they’ve passed the test at positions where the Ducks lacked depth.
“They learned the offense. They get after it,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “I think they’ve done a great job fitting in with our guys. I think our players have done a great job helping them and supporting them in their roles, and vice versa.”
Dillon, a tight end transfer from University of South Florida, entered 2018 with an opportunity to see significant playing time. In week one against Bowling Green, starting tight end Cam McCormick injured his leg and is out for the season.
Time for someone to take his place; Dillon showed he can against Portland State.
“Having a guy like Kano over here is a blessing,” quarterback Justin Herbert said.
He caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown, one of the highlights of the game. The 6-foot-5 inch, 265 pound senior caught the ball 10 yards from the end zone, engaged three defenders at the 5-yard line and carried them in for the score.
“I can’t really explain how it feels,” Dillon said. “I just did it. I didn’t think about it, but it feels good though.”
Hines’ had a touchdown as well. His was a little easier than Dillon’s, but it was six points nonetheless. The Wake Forest transfer ran a quick out, ran behind his blockers and waltzed into the end zone for his first career touchdown as a Duck.
“It felt really good,” Hines said. ” It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play a game, so it’s great scoring my first touchdown here in this stadium.”
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 8, 2018
Both Dillon and Hines came to Oregon and filled positions where the Ducks lacked depth, and both got injured during fall camp, limiting the time they had to adjust to a new team. But unlike freshmen, they’re veterans, and they know how to adjust.
“I’m feeling real comfortable in the offense,” Hines said. “I’m just taking it day by day, just trying to get all the way back in my groove, get my feet underneath me and just take it one day at a time.”
It’s only two weeks into the season, but they’ve already shown they can compete for this team. They won’t be stars, but they’ll be important to Oregon’s success.
“As much as we spread the ball around in this offense … you’ve got to be unselfish to be a part of this locker room,” Cristobal said. “It’s the only way.”
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917