Big play signals return of Addison
Oregon receiver Bralon Addison declared his return from a knee injury with a dynamic 81-yard touchdown run.
Addison, who sat out last season because of the injury, was named the Pac-12's Player of the Week on special teams for the long punt return against Michigan State last weekend.
While the Ducks fell 31-28 to the Spartans, Addison showed that in the first two games of the season he's picking up right where he left off.
Addison was a breakout star at receiver for the Ducks in 2013, ranking second on the team with 61 catches for 890 yards and seven touchdowns. He stood out on special teams, returning punts 281 yards with two touchdowns.
It was expected that Addison would be among then-quarterback Marcus Mariota's favorite targets in 2014, but in a spring scrimmage he tore the ACL in his right knee and needed surgery.
He was out the entire season. There was some talk he might join the Ducks for college football's first playoffs last season, but the team opted to preserve his redshirt.
Addison quickly answered any questions about whether his playmaking ability was back. In the season opener against Eastern Washington, he finished with three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. He followed that performance up with seven catches for 138 yards, along with the punt return for a score, against the now-No. 4 Spartans last weekend.
He currently ranks 14th nationally with an average of 20.8 yards per punt return.
Addison told reporters this week that he felt he was back after taking his first hit in the opener.
"I think after the first game I was a hundred percent back, after I took my big collision in the first game," he said. "Definitely it was a bigger test going up against Michigan State and how good of a team they were, but I think as far my confidence and things, I'm back."
The punt return for a TD gives him three for his Oregon career, one short of the school record held by Cliff Harris and receiver Keenan Howry.
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich agreed that Addison seemed confident in the 61-42 opening win against the Eagles.
"He was — I don't want to say unsure — but the last thing for a player coming back from a significant setback is just getting hit and making sure everything is OK and feels right so they can be confident in going forward," Helfrich said.
Addison isn't the only receiver making a comeback. Devon Allen, who also sustained a similar ACL injury last season on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl victory over Florida State, made his return against the Spartans.
"I could tell he was a little nervous, which is natural in things like that, so I thought it was good for him to get that out of his system against a good team like that — so now look out," Addison said.
Oregon, which dropped from No. 7 to No. 12 in the rankings following the loss to Michigan State, hosts Georgia State on Saturday before the start of Pac-12 play.
The Panthers (1-1) are coming off their first league win after joining the Sun Belt Conference, a 34-32 victory over New Mexico State last weekend.
While Oregon is a 45-point favorite, the Ducks' ultimate challenge is to get past the loss to the Spartans and reclaim the season, just like the team did last year following the loss to Arizona.
"They're similar to Michigan State as far as coverages and assignments, so we're going to put a couple of things into the game plan to take advantage of that," Addison said about the Panthers. "It's kind of like seeing the same defense two weeks in a row. But they play hard, they play fast. A lot of people may not know about them, but they're definitely a team that you can't just say 'this is a wash away week.'"