The game-time decisions have not turned out in Juwan Johnson's favor.
Oregon coach Mario Cristobal has spent his final media appearance before each foot6ball game this season stating that Johnson may be ready to debut, but the graduate transfer has yet to take the field at wide receiver for the Ducks. After being limited in practice near the end of fall camp, Johnson injured a muscle in his right leg late in the week before Oregon’s season-opening 27-21 loss to Auburn.
Cristobal said Monday that Johnson practiced and “looked like he’s really on track to be able to help us out” while noting he has given a similar injury report during each of the past three weeks.
“He’d be huge,” UO quarterback Justin Herbert said of getting the 6-foot-4 senior transfer from Penn State on the field. “He’s another guy we could throw out there and make plays. We’ve got a few out there right now and I really like the way they are playing, but adding him would be huge as well.”
Johnson was a candidate to replace Dillon Mitchell as Oregon’s leading receiver this year after joining a mostly inexperienced position group. He caught 79 passes for 1,053 yards during the past two seasons at Penn State.
“Obviously, he’s a big component of what we did all spring and summer,” Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said.
Arroyo added that he’s not sure how the addition of Johnson will alter the way he calls a game.
“We think we know how he can affect a game if he’s available, but it’s hard to tell until a Saturday when the lights are on,” he said.
On Wednesday, Cristobal will give one last injury update on Johnson before the 16th-ranked Ducks (2-1) visit Stanford (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12 Conference) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ll be ready if he is (able to play), ready if he’s not,” Arroyo said.
That’s been a familiar feeling for the Ducks, who have been without receivers Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman all season due to injuries. Those two are expected back next month, but tight end Cam McCormick has been ruled out for the season due to an ankle injury.
“We’ve mixed our pieces and moved guys around so we are comfortable throwing anyone out there,” said Herbert, who has completed 49-of-68 passes for 626 yards and 10 touchdowns during the past two weeks. “We practice that so much, we go through situations where one guy is down and we have to find a replacement player.”
Oregon also had to do that on the offensive line when center Jake Hanson left Saturday’s 35-3 win over Montana with an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by right tackle Calvin Throckmorton and that could be the case again if Hanson can’t return at Stanford.
“It would be nice to have both Justin and Calvin out there, but Calvin steps in and does such a great job at center so there is no drop off in snaps,” Herbert said. “It is something he and I are both comfortable at, but we’d miss Jake for sure.”