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Baylis likes his role for Ducks.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

Evan Baylis is used to waiting for his opportunities.

In Oregon's offense that features a handful of running backs and receivers as options for quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., the tight end sometimes can go a week or two without a catch.

"Everyone is making plays, and we are winning, so that is all that matters," Baylis said.

Baylis had two catches in each of the first four games, but then did not have a catch against Colorado or Washington State. He had one reception against Washington and two against Arizona State before going without a catch against California.

With Oregon leading Stanford 23-21 at halftime on Saturday, the Ducks looked to Baylis for a 33-yard completion that led to a touchdown run by Royce Freeman. The 31st catch at Oregon for the redshirt junior was the longest of his career.

"I feel like anyone on our offense can make plays, so once you get the ball, you have to take your opportunities," Baylis said.

Fourteen different Ducks have caught at least one pass this season. With that many options on offense, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich has urged his receivers to realize there are plenty of ways to help the team without making a catch.

"We made a big deal last week about Devon Allen, who arguably won that game for us on special teams and blocking and never touched the ball, and how valuable that is" Helfrich said.

"Whether it is a kid like Kirk Merritt or Jalen Brown, guys that aren't touching the ball as much as they envisioned, they are vital to our success and just as important as the guy who has the ball in the end zone. ... You have to have a great scout team, great preparation. Those guys can't all touch the ball and that is just being part of the team."

Baylis ranks sixth on the team with 12 catches for 125 yards in his first full season as the starter. He is three catches shy of matching his total from last season.

"It has helped me get a lot more comfortable and take it week-by-week," Baylis said of his experience in the system. "I am studying and figuring out what to do against the defense now. I am comfortable with the offense, so now it is more about knowing what the opponents do and how to use your technique."

Baylis said the USC defense will be a good test for the Oregon offense.

"They have a pretty good defense," he said. "They have some young guys, but really talented. Good athletes and everything so it will be a good match-up."

Early game an unusual starting time for Ducks

Oregon will need an early wake-up call Saturday, which has been a rarity on game days this season.

The Ducks will host USC at 12:30 p.m. at Autzen Stadium after nearly two months of late-night starts. Four of Oregon's last six games began at 7 p.m. or later.

Helfrich doesn't have a preference for day or night starts, but has a plan in place for whenever the time is set.

"Whenever you start to schedule anything, we start from the time of the kickoff and go backwards," Helfrich said Thursday. "You get in your normal routine whether it is a Thursday game, road, home, night, day, morning or whatever time. We will be ready to go."

Oregon's game against USC marks just the third game out of 11 this season to start at 3 p.m. or earlier.

Baylis said the players usually fall into the same routine Friday nights and Saturday mornings regardless of the start time.

"It is not a big difference, both have pros and cons whether an early game or late, but they are all fun," he said. "We all usually get to bed pretty early on Fridays and everyone pretty much is awake in the morning when we are done eating breakfast, but it is nothing really different."

Helfrich said he is not sure that game times can present any advantage for either team.

"Sometimes against a particular opponent where it is the time of the season and a temperature thing or whatever, you can get in their head maybe, but I don't know," he said. "We just try to stay as focused on our normal routine as possible."

Oregon coaches have seen USC's players before

Oregon has not played USC in more than two years, but Helfrich has seen plenty of the Trojans on tape prior to this week.

USC's roster is filled with players that Oregon also recruited including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, safety Leon McQuay III and cornerback Adoree' Jackson.

"Their secondary is playing extremely well, I think every single one of those guys we tried to recruit," Helfrich said. "So it is funny to go against those guys."

Helfrich will face USC as a head coach for the first time. The Pac-12's unbalanced schedule means there are two teams Oregon does not face in back-to-back years and that was USC and Arizona State during Helfrich's first two seasons on the job.

Oregon last played USC on Nov. 3, 2012, a 62-51 win for the Ducks when Helfrich was the offensive coordinator.

Lane Kiffin coached the Trojans that day, but USC has had three coaches since, including current interim coach Clay Helton.

"They are playing really well," Helfrich said. "Those guys are so talented and so deep. You throw on a tape of any game and at any point something crazy can happen with how talented they are on offense. Collectively, when you put it together, it is scary."

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMims_RG. Email steve.mims@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Oregon Football
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Nov 20, 2015
Words:951
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