The Cowboys Classic is days away.
This Saturday, the Oregon Ducks and LSU Tigers will take the field in Jerry’s World in Dallas, Texas for one of the most hyped season-openers in recent college football history.
The Ducks’ lightning offense led by Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner will go up against LSU’s ridiculously good defense.
Here is a look at Oregon’s defensive depth chart when it takes on LSU.
NOTE: Cliff Harris is not on here because of suspension and injuries will be noted.
For the offense, click here.
While Hanna (18 tackles, two sacks) isn’t technically one of Oregon’s returning starters—taking Kenny Rowe’s spot—he has played a lot of time for the Ducks. The converted linebacker has found his place into a starting spot, but his backup is very capable of replacing him.
Backup: Dion Jordan
Jordan (33 tackles, two sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss) is a converted tight end who has seamlessly made the switch to defensive end. At 6’7”, Jordan is the tallest defensive lineman for the Ducks.
Reserves: Nick Musgrove and Jennings Stewart
Musgrove and Stewart will see limited playing time in 2011 and likely won’t be on the field against LSU.
Keliikipi (18 tackles 0.5 tackles for loss) is the definition of a plug. After redshirting his freshman year, Keliikipi played in all 13 games for the Ducks in 2010 but didn’t start in any. Keliikipi will take Zach Clark’s spot from last season.
Backup: Taylor Hart
Keliikipi is 1A and Hart is 1B. There is not much separating these two guys and Hart will definitely play a lot of snaps against LSU.
Reserves: Koa Ka'ai and Axel McQuaw
Ka’ai will likely redshirt in 2011.
Heimuli (nine tackles, one tackle for loss) is listed as probable here because of his nagging ankle injury. It doesn’t seem to be too serious and I expect him to be ready to go come game time. Heimuli was one of two Ducks (Josh Huff) who played in every game last season as a true freshman.
Backups: Jared Ebert and Isaac Remington
If Heimuli is unable to go, Ebert (JUCO transfer) and Remington (JUCO transfer) will split time and each see meaningful snaps. Actually, even if he isn’t injured, both of these guys will take the field. Ebert and Remington were both considered 4-star recruits (depending on the recruiting service).
Reserves: Ryan Hagen, Nick Morrison
Terrell Turner (33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions) is the one returning starter on the defensive line. After battling a leg injury that kept him out of much of spring drills, Turner is back and appears better than ever. Expect Turner to have a big game for the Ducks against LSU.
Reserves: Tony Washington, Sam Kamp and David Kafovalu
Unfortunately, the Ducks don’t have a proven player behind Turner. Dion Jordan will likely play in the right end spot against LSU and redshirt freshman Tony Washington might see the field as well.
I think Michael Clay (42 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, one interception) is the most undervalued player on the Ducks defense. Clay will replace Spencer Paysinger at outsider linebacker, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a capable starter. Clay was Oregon’s top reserve linebacker and if it wasn’t for such a loaded linebacking core, he would have seen a lot of playing time.
Backups: Derrick Malone and Boseko Lokombo
Malone redshirted for the Ducks in 2011 and will play a reserve role for the Ducks in 2011.
Reserves: Grant Thompson, Rahim Cassell and Rodney Hardrick
Hardrick and Cassell will likely redshirt, and therefore won’t see the field against LSU.
Stuckey (five tackles) has the huge job of replacing one of Oregon’s top linebackers in school history: Casey Matthews. Stuckey appeared in six games in 2010, and with this being his senior season, it’s his last chance to make a major impact.
Backups: Kiko Alonso (Suspended) and Boseko Lokkombo
I have Alonso listed as a backup because of his “indefinite suspension.” Kelly hasn’t said if or when Alonso will be reinstated, but I don’t expect him to play against LSU. If he is reinstated, though, he may get the starting spot instead of Stuckey. Alonso is a good player when he is on the field, off-the-field issues have tainted that image.
Reserves: Blake Thompson, Isaac Ava and Anthony Wallace
Josh Kaddu (32 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks) is Oregon’s lone returning starting linebacker. Kaddu started all 13 games for the Ducks and he will need to play a prominent role against LSU for the Ducks to emerge the victors.
Backup: Boseko Lokombo
You might have noticed I have Lokombo as the backup in every linebacker spot. That’s because he is. Lokombo will see the field more than any reserve linebacker, and he’ll be the first in the game when an injury occurs.
Reserves: Keloni Kamalani, Carlyle Garrick, Tyler Coleman
Coleman is good enough to play, but should (and probably will) redshirt this season.
While I have extreme faith in Terrence Mitchell, the job is not his for the long term. Corner Cliff Harris has been suspended indefinitely and for the LSU game at a minimum. Mitchell is coming off of a redshirt season in which he shined for the Ducks on the scout team. In both spring games Mitchell has played in, he recorded an interception.
Backup: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Again, this is a job that should be had by another player. Oregon’s Scott Grady would have been Mitchell’s backup, but an untimely leave from the program has true freshman Ekpre-Olomu playing backup.
Anthony Gildon (18 tackles) will replace Talmadge Jackson III (NFL) as the other starting cornerback. Gildon appeared in 11 games for the Ducks in 2011 and is a solid option at corner.
Backups: Troy Hill
Ducks coaches and players all rave about Troy Hill and his playmaking abilities. He may not see the field much against LSU, but he will see a lot of playing time in 2011.
Reserve: Dior Mathis
Dior Mathis could play corner or he might play receiver.
Boyett (78 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five interceptions) is clearly Oregon’s best player in the secondary (with Cliff’s absence). He will play a big role for the Ducks against LSU as they look to shut down the deep pass from quarterback Jarrett Lee.
Backup: Avery Patterson
Patterson could easily start on most other Pac-12 schools. He will rotate in the secondary at multiple positions to keep legs fresh.
Reserves: James Scales and Isaac Dixon
Scales will see time in 2011, just not likely against a powerful LSU team.
If Boyett is the Ducks’ best player in the secondary, Pleasant is right behind him. After making the transition from linebacker to safety, Pleasant struggled initially and was beaten several times deep. Now fully comfortable in the position, I expect Pleasant to have a big senior season for the Ducks.
Backup: Brian Jackson
Like Patterson (from the previous slide), Jackson could start on a lot of other schools. He will rotate into the starting group throughout the game against LSU and will see the field.
Reserves: Erick Dargan and J.R. Maffie
Both likely won’t see the field against LSU.