By JUSTIN BURR
For the first time this season the Ducks will be without veterans John Boyett and Carson York when they battle Tennessee Tech Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium.
Boyett, senior safety, will undergo season ending surgery on both patellar tendons and York, Oregon’s most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo season ending surgery to repair his broken knee cap.
Both players bring impressive leadership to their respective positions with a combined 72 career starts between them. With this major blow to Oregon’s offensive line it is assumed that Tennessee Tech will be bringing a few more men in the box to create a high pressure situation for red shirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota.
After York was injured against Fresno State the Bulldogs blitzed heavily which disrupted the Ducks offensive consistency and you can bet the Golden Eagles will adopt that strategy.
Junior corner, Avery Patterson, will start in place of Boyett.
Last season Patterson recorded 55 tackles and appeared in all 14 games but replacing such a hard hitting leader like John Boyett will be no easy task; Patterson will have his work cut out for him come Saturday.
With the loss of Boyett don’t expect to see Tennessee Tech take to the air more than they originally planned, although depth is running thin, Oregon’s secondary is a disciplined unit that demands respect from opposing QB’s.
With Oregon heavily favored in this game they should walk away with the win, but in order to consider this victory a success, the Ducks will need to accomplish the following: consistency has been a problem for Oregon in this previous two games, having outscored opponents 85-16 in the first half but then being outscored 43 -14 in the second half.
Heading into Pac-12 play, the Ducks need to stay vigilant after halftime and maintain their focus even if the starters are on the bench.
After suffering injuries last week, Oregon is still in prime shape with talented backups but any other mishaps to their secondary or offensive line could be costly. Avoiding injury and protecting their starters should be a high priority for the Ducks.
The last thing Oregon needs is inexperienced players on the field when they take on a much improved Wildcat team on Sept. 22. With that being said Oregon needs a fast start, even faster than normal allowing them to sit their stars and let players lower on the depth chart get some in-game experience.
The Ducks should be less concerned with winning this game, which is inevitable, and more concerned with escaping unharmed.