Oregon Ducks: Projected 2012 Offensive Starters
The Ducks have had somewhat of an interesting off-season, and it's not even National Signing Day yet. But assuming that all of the pieces fall into place, the Ducks should have plenty of players coming back to provide stability. As of now, here are the projected starters at Wide Receiver, Tazer, Tight End, Running Back, Quarterback and the Offensive Line.
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Josh Huff and Rashaan Vaughn. While Vaughn played the Ochocinco of the duo, Huff was consistently on the field, when not injured, after evolving from the Tazer role in 2010. Vaughn has one year left at Oregon and wants to stand out after a "wasted" year. He will get his chance as a veteran, with the rest of the receiving core still young and inexperienced.
The Ducks have lacked a red zone threat lately and could see one out of true freshman Dwayne Stanford.
Also lookout for: Tacoi Sumler, Devon Blackmon, B.J. Kelley and Daryle Hawkins.
De'Anthony Thomas shined in t Tazer role in Chip Kelly's offense. If Chip Kelly knows one thing, it's how to get his playmakers the ball. If the Ducks can get him the ball enough, defenses will start focusing too much on him and leave other players wide open.
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Colt Lyerla will be feeling a little heat this offseason. With several tight ends already on the team, the addition of several recruits could make things a little more hectic. Or, it could lead to more two tight end sets. Hope his hands develop, as this position is relatively new to him, and he need to take full advantage of the offseason to become the next great Ducks tight end.
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Kenjon Barner looks to finally get his shot at starting running back this year. In his three years at Oregon, he has averaged over six yards a carry. Besides his slash and dash running ability, he has great hands and will be more of a threat running routes and screens than LaMichael James was. His hands might his biggest asset with a relatively new quarterback in Bryan Bennett.
Tra Carson will be number two on the depth chart as a pure running back. Not much was seen of Carson, due to trash time against weaker opponents, but Duck fans should be excited for two reasons. The Ducks have long needed a bigger running back to power forward for those tough yards. While LaMichael James was strong, most of that came from the leverage advantage he had at 5'9". Carson, hopefully, will be able to bowl over opponents without breaking a sweat.
Carson will be the heir-apparent once Barner leaves and will have a season to learn what it takes to be the starter at Oregon. Just imagine if James AND Barner left, and Carson was thrust into the starting lineup.
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Bryan Bennett is slated, as of now, to start at quarterback in 2012. While some have raised the possibility of others to start, I think that Bennett has the edge.
Chip Kelly is a mastermind with quarterbacks. Dennis Dixon led the Ducks to a #2 position in the major polls and was the leading Heisman candidate until he tore his ACL. Jeremiah Masoli lead the Ducks to a 10-win season and win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2008 Holliday Bowl, and the following year he lead the Ducks to the Rose Bowl.
After his dismissal from the team, Darron Thomas took over and took the Ducks to the National Championship, following that up with a win in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Duck fans should be excited to see a Dennis Dixon style running quarterback again, but shouldn't expect big-time throws unless he commits to his development as a passer.
I'm also glad that he does have a start under his belt with plenty of playing time.
Tackle and Guard
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Nick Cody, Ryan Clayton, Jake Fisher, Kyle Long, and Carson York all somehow will fill in to four spots. Please don't ask me how, because I don't know. The odd man out, though, is Kyle Long. He has one year to play and he might not get that chance, due to talent along the line. But with the Ducks rotating players constantly, expect all of these players to start at least two games this year.
Regardless of who starts, expect the Ducks to rely on their ground game and these guys to be the unsung heroes.
"True" Returners: Nick Cody and Carson York.
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Oregon has somewhat of a tradition of having long term centers. Max Unger, Jordan Homes and now Hroniss Grasu.
A 14 game starter as a redshirt freshman, Grasu showed great poise in his first game of the year against LSU. Expect him to be a staple of the Oregon running game for the next three years and to grow even more into the mold of previous centers.