Oregon hopes its run of injuries at wide receiver is nearing an end.
The 13th-ranked Ducks (3-1, 1-0) will see Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman make their football season debuts Saturday when they host California (4-1, 1-1) at 5 p.m.
“Both Brenden and Mycah have been cleared, they have practiced all week, and they will play,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said after practice Wednesday morning. “They looked real good today. … They look like they are back to normal. We will practice again the next couple days and figure out a rotation, but you can expect them to play.”
The additions of Schooler and Pittman should result in a few more plays off for the six wide receivers on the roster with at least seven catches on the year.
“Less bodies means more chances of injuries and wear and tear,” junior receiver Jaylon Redd said. “With more bodies, you can stay fresher and depending on how the rotation goes, it is evenly distributed. … Get guys rested a bit more and get everyone back so we can come out and execute.”
Junior Johnny Johnson leads the Ducks with 22 catches for 264 yards and two touchdowns and Redd has 17 receptions for 149 yards and three scores. Bryan Addison has eight catches followed by Josh Delgado, Daewood Davis and converted tight end Spencer Webb with seven apiece.
“With the barrage of guys that ended up being down going back to week one, we have been trying to manage guys throughout the course of a game,” UO offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. “An example like Redd, he plays a lot of plays and in certain instances throughout the course of these weeks he has been on an IV at certain points in the game.
"The calls and packages we have had to manage, I think with the guys we have, they did an awesome job managing the numbers based on our injuries. It will continue to be that way. I don’t think we have a chance to plug guys in right away and ramp them up. You have to do that carefully.”
Schooler, a senior who has 41 catches for 477 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons at receiver, suffered a foot injury early in fall camp. Pittman, a true freshman who was one of the early stars of practice for the Ducks, suffered a shoulder injury during a preseason scrimmage.
“It’s good to have the guys we had in spring ball and fall camp back in the mix,” Arroyo said. “It brings good energy as much as anything. Schooler with his leadership and Mycah being back out there and having the impact he did early in fall camp. The guys were excited to see them back. There will be some rust, but we all know it is good to have those guys back. … When you add good players to the mix at any time it gives you a chance to lift the group up.”
Senior grad transfer Juwan Johnson, who has yet to play due to a calf injury, remains uncertain to take the field against the Bears as Cristobal noted that he is “still progressing.”
“It would be huge to have those guys,” UO quarterback Justin Herbert said. “It’s unfortunate that they haven’t been able to play, but we look forward to trying to get some of them back. That’s something we’ve definitely been looking at getting some more guys that can give Johnny and Jaylon a breather.”
Johnson, Redd, Delgado, and Addison have all started at least one game as Oregon has regularly used those four players who began the season as wide receivers. Davis moved over from cornerback prior to the opening game while Webb is a tight end who has been used at receiver.
Redd and Johnson are listed as starters on the depth chart for Cal along with Addison or Schooler. Pittman and Webb are the backups behind Redd with Delgado on the outside behind Johnson.