Rebuild the Corps
A little while ago I did a post on who I believed would be Oregon’s 2013 offensive starters. Featuring a star-studded group of players such as Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas, Bralon Addison, Colt Lyerla, and Josh Huff, the Ducks look to be loaded with offensive firepower in 2013.
And though Oregon has talent on both sides of the ball that will surely help them contend for another Pac-12 Championship and potential BCS National Championship appearance, they have some big questions on defense that must be answered first.
Losing seniors is tough, but when some of the top talent on your team, it gets even tougher. The absences of Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, Dion Jordan, and Isaac Remington will surely be felt next year, especially with the four of them taking two valuable players from the defensive line and linebacking corps.
That being said, there is still plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball for the Ducks. Boseko Lokombo, Terrance Mitchell, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Avery Patterson and Brian Jackson headline a defensive group that could help make 2013 a great year for Oregon.
With a mix of veterans and new faces that will make a big impact, here’s what I imagine as being Oregon’s 2013 starting defensive unit.
DL – Arik Armstead, Wade Keliikipi, Taylor Hart, Tony Washington
The departure of Jordan and Remington definitely hurts the Ducks. There’s no denying the fact that losing two players of their stature will affect the production of Oregon’s 2013 unit. Still, the Ducks have the talent to reload and repair their line.
Young studs such as Arik Armstead and Tony Washington will likely continue to emerge and show fans and coaches how much they have developed after another season with Oregon. Boasting above-average potential, these two players could be exactly what the Ducks need to mitigate the loss of Jordan and Remington.
Also continue to look for Wade Keliikipi and Taylor Hart to take up space and disrupt the backfield by using their size and athletic ability.
LB – Boseko Lokombo, Derrick Malone, Tyson Coleman
Oregon’s linebacking corps this year may be the most questionable unit on the entire team. That being said, this is also a group of players that has the most potential to really burst onto the scene in 2013. A relatively young group, many of the players vying for the starting job came to Oregon as high-profile recruits but had to wait their turn to make an impact.
This will be the year they get to do so, as Clay and Alonso are now gone. Looks for Derrick Malone and Tyson Coleman to really step up during fall camp and get the starting job, as both of them have flashed a lot of promise at their position, with Malone already showcasing on-field prowess.
Boseko Lokombo should continue to develop and become an even bigger force and leader on defense.
DB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Terrance Mitchell, Avery Patterson, Brian Jackson
Just writing those four names into the defensive backfield for Oregon made me salivate.
As talented as Oregon’s defensive backfield has been in recent history, this group may be the most talented unit in quite awhile. Returning all four standouts, the group is defined by a ball hawking mentality that lead to explosive defensive plays and receivers and quarterbacks being stifled.
Though he suffered an injury late in the year last season, Patterson will likely step right back into one of the safety slots and continue to showcase why he is one of the top safeties in the Pac-12. Ekpre-Olomu and Mitchell will make it tough on opposing receivers, limiting their production with their great coverage skills and bursts of speed.
There are undoubtedly some questions on Oregon’s defense this year, but there is also the potential in place for them to become one of the best defensive units in the Pac-12. Let’s just hope they can live up to all their hype.