Oregon Linebacker Preview: A Yard Wide in Experience, A Mile Deep in Talent

Jonathan Ferrey

Probable Depth Chart:

Strongside Linebacker Middle Linebacker Weakside Linebacker Drop End/OLB
25 Boseko Lokombo Sr. 35 Joe Walker So. 22 Derrick Malone Jr. 91 Tony Washington Jr.
33 Tyson Coleman RSo. 48 Rodney Hardrick Jr. 34 Rahim Cassell RSo. 96 Christian French RSo.
86 Torrodney Prevot Fr. 51 Isaac Ava Jr. 40 Brett Bafaro RFr. 42 Cody Carriger RFr.
38 Mike Garrity Jr. 59 Grant Thompson Jr. 19 Tyrell Robinson Fr. 57 Ryan McCandless So.
46 Danny Mattingly Fr.

Returning Experience:

Here is one of the weakest parts about the Duck's defense going into 2013. Oregon has had a tremendous amount of experience and talent at the linebacker position the last couple of years with 4 players being drafted in the NFL. This year, besides Boseko Lokombo, there is only 1 other guy (Tony Washington) that has started a game. BoLo and Washington are going to have to step up and provide a steadying influence on what will be a young corp of players manning the middle and supporting them on the edges.

New Faces:

What they lose in experience, they make up for in talent. It will be really interesting to watch which of the guys takes hold of the middle linebacker positions as Oregon faces less than stellar talent the first couple of weeks of the year. Derrick Malone saw plenty of playing time last year as Michael Clay dealt with injuries, and he has to quickly fill the void he leaves behind making calls to the defensive line and directing the front seven. Replacing Kiko Alonso is not going to be very easy. It should be a nice battle between Spring Practice standout and JC transfer Joe Walker and returning back up Rodney Hardrick. Also, don't count out the possiblity that a one of the Cassell, Coleman or Bafaro makes a switch and moves to the middle of the front seven.

Conclusion:

There is plenty of talent in the middle unit of this defense, something the Ducks struggled with for years when star players moved on to the NFL. What is in question is the effectiveness of that talent. BoLo and to a smaller extent Washington, are known commodities, but their roles are somewhat limited playing of the edges of the defense. Aliotti and Pellum are going to have to evaluate quickly and determine who should man the middle and lead the front seven for the year. Lastly, don't be surprised if you see a shift in scheme from Aliotti as he focuses the pressure from the defense on the more experienced players (safety/corner blitzes, zone blitzes off the edges, more traditional zone schemes in the middle of the field) to take pressure off the less experienced linebackers from making the right reads and calls at the line of scrimmage.

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GoDucks.com Preseason Camp Preview

Oregon Ducks Depth Chart

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