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Frost outlines Oregon offense

EUGENE -- Never let it be said that players are the only people who can use the tired and dreary cliché, “I just want what’s best for the team.”

When asked how he felt about taking over the play-calling duties in his first year as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, Scott Frost went for it, too.

“I was excited, but I just want what’s best for the team,” Frost said. “When Mark (Helfrich) asked me about it, that’s what I said. I don’t care who calls the plays. I don’t care if someone in the 52nd row of the stadium calls the plays as long as it gives us the best chance of winning.”

Frost, formerly the receivers coach, has been using fall camp to prepare himself for having to make play calls during games.

“You prepare everyday,” Frost said. “When you’re scripting plays and deciding how to run practice, there’s no better preparation than that.”

Frost will have plenty of talent to work with this season.

Everything in Oregon’s offense will begin with quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota.

“He’s bigger, stronger and faster,” Frost said. “He has a better control of the offense and a better grasp of it and, like I’ve said 100 times, we want him to be even more of a playmaker this year. We’re expecting him to do big things.”

Frost said that does not mean Oregon will necessarily throw the ball more, as has been speculated.

“If there’s been talk of us throwing the ball more, it wasn’t from the coaching staff or anybody on the team,” Frost says. “That’s speculation. We’re going to do whatever gives us the best chance to win. Marcus Mariota is a very talented passer, so him throwing the ball gives us a chance to win, but we’re certainly not going to make wholesale changes.”

Helfrich, Oregon’s former offense coach and first-year head coach, echoed Frost.

“We want to score,” Helfrich said. “We don’t care how, we don’t care who has it in the end zone as long as it’s our guy. To a certain extent, we’re going to do our deal. To a certain extent, we’re going to take what the defense, I don’t want to say ‘dictates,’ but how they make us adjust. We haven’t sat down and said, ‘We need to throw it 66 percent of the time’ or anything like that.' ”

Of course, Oregon has become renowned for being tightlipped about anything that could possibly give an opponent an advantage. So even if the Ducks are planning on throwing the ball more, it would make sense for the coaches to deny it.

When Mariota does drop back to pass, he will have several playmakers to choose from.

“We’ve got a deep group of receivers,” Frost said. “We’ve got a bunch of experience there. When Josh Huff is healthy, he’s a great playmaker for us. Bralon Addison has had a great camp, Daryl Hawkins has had a great camp, Keanon Lowe has had a great camp. We’re still waiting for a couple of the young guys to step up and be the fifth guy or the sixth guy and show they can be playmakers.”

Mariota can also get the ball to tight end Colt Lyerla, one of the highest-rated tight ends in the nation.

“Colt can do any number of things when he’s around and healthy and playing well,” Frost said. “There’s not too many guys like him. We’re anxious to get him involved.”

The biggest hole the offense has to fill this season is running back after the departure of Kenjon Barner. Frost disagreed with the notion that running back is a question mark, though.

“I don’t really see running back as a question mark,” he said. “There’s not a team in our conference and hardly a team in the country that wouldn’t trade for our running backs. Byron Marshall has had an unbelievable camp, and we don’t feel like there’s another player in the country like De’Anthony (Thomas).”

The Ducks' running backs will have three returning starters to block for them: center Hroniss Grasu and tackles Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone. Offensive guard is still up in the air, though.

“The three returning starters we have, we’re counting on those guys,” Frost said. “Hroniss has been a bell cow for us for two years, and he’s got to be a leader again. The two tackles, as they keep working and improving, are really good players in our offense. We’ve had some good guard play. I don’t think it’s completely decided who are going to be our two guards yet, but we’re encouraged by what we’re seeing.”

Even with all the talent he has to work with, there will be enormous pressure for Frost to fill the play-calling role vacated by former coach Chip Kelly when he left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles.

As with Helfrich, Frost is not eager to try to put his own stamp on the Ducks' offense. Rather, he would simply like to continue what Kelly has done.

“Chip and Mark collaborated on the play-calling last year, and it will be Mark and I collaborating this year,” Frost said. “And if fans can’t tell the difference between last year and this year, we’re probably doing pretty well.”