Oregon Football: 4 Biggest Holes the Ducks Need to Fill in 2013
As much as any Oregon fan would love to bask in the success of the 2012 season, we must begin to look forward to 2013 in our quest for a national championship.
No underclassmen have declared themselves eligible for the 2013 NFL draft at this point, and none are likely to do so.
This means that Oregon should be expecting many familiar faces back in Eugene this spring, but Oregon will still have holes to fill due to graduation.
These are four holes the Ducks need to fill before the fall season begins.
Oregon will be losing the services of Kyle Long, Nick Cody, Ryan Clanton and Carson York, all contributors on the offensive line in 2013.
While the Ducks will be getting their starting center Hroniss Grasu back next season, they cannot afford to be weak on the offensive line if they want to contend against the SEC for a national title.
Look for Tyler Johnstone, a freshman All-American, Hamani Stevens and Andre Yruretagoyena to step up and make solid contributions for the Ducks next season.
Even though Oregon returns their starting kicker for 2013, the position remains an urgent need for the Ducks.
Twice Alejandro Maldonado has been called upon to make a field goal to keep the Ducks' chances of victory alive, and twice he has failed, leading to two Oregon losses at home.
The Ducks cannot afford to have a liability like Maldonado as their option in a close game, and Chip Kelly would be smart to try and get a kicker who can get the job done.
The Ducks are losing not only their two leading tacklers from 2012, but they are also losing their two starting inside linebackers.
Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso have acted as a brick way in the middle of the field, and their talents and leadership will be sorely missed in 2013.
Replacing Clay and Alonso will be two inexperienced players in redshirt sophomores Rahim Cassell and Tyson Coleman.
Junior Derrick Malone will also be in the mix for playing time.
Luckily for Oregon, their defensive line is strong enough to allow a little slack in the middle of the field.
Update: According to a report, Bennett will not be transferring, which means the Ducks will be safe at back-up quarterback in 2013.
...if Bryan Bennett transfers.
Bennett has made no announcement on his future plans at this point, and we are all unsure if he will be back in an Oregon uniform next season.
I'm not here to debate whether or not Bennett should leave or not, this slide is merely a contingency plan.
If Bennett does decide to transfer to another school, then backing up Marcus Mariota at quarterback will be senior Dustin Haines, and sophomores Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie.
If Mariota goes down with an injury, not many would feel comfortable with an inexperienced quarterback playing, especially ones who are third at best on the depth chart at this point.