During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.
We’re well into the defense now, past the front seven and into the secondary. We finish off the defense on Wednesday with the safeties.
Lost production: 151 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 9 pass breakups
Who returns in 2014: Redshirt senior Erick Dargan, redshirt sophomore Reggie Daniels, redshirt freshman Juwaan Williams, redshirt freshman Tyree Robinson, redshirt junior Issac Dixon, redshirt sophomore Eric Amoako, redshirt junior Bronson Yim, redshirt junior Bobby Dunn, incoming freshman Khalil Oliver, incoming freshman Mattrell McGraw
Statistics of returning players: 40 tackles, 1 interception, 8 pass breakups
Outlook: Here’s where fans are allowed to start feeling not as confident in the defense, as this is one of the few positions where the lost statistics are greater than the returning statistics.
Replacing both starting safeties is not something a coach wants to do, especially in a league as pass heavy as the Pac-12. However (and yes, there’s always a however), Dargan has stepped into the starting role with ease. Early on in spring, quarterback Marcus Mariota said he didn’t like throwing against Dargan. So if one of the best signal-callers in the country doesn’t want to throw against Dargan, there’s a decent chance every quarterback the Ducks see this fall will feel the same way.
The biggest question comes at the starting spot opposite Dargan. Is a redshirt freshman or a redshirt sophomore really going to be starting in the senior-laden secondary? Yes. Does that mean everyone should panic? No. But if an opposing quarterback is deciding between throwing against Ifo Ekpre-Olomu or a younger safety, he's going to pick the safety. The young safeties are going to get picked on more simply because they fall into the “Not-Ekpre-Olomu” category. That will get them more opportunities to succeed -- or fail. Either way, it’s definitely a position group to watch closely.
Other spring position reviews: