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Oregon Football 2014 Preview: Defensive Backs Could Hold the Key to Ducks SuccessSalem-News.com Sports
Dior Mathis made a strong case to secure the other starting job with a fast start to spring drills.
(EUGENE, Ore. ) - Despite the loss of three starters from the 2013 team, there are plenty of familiar faces dotting John Neal's meeting room.
In Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, the Ducks start with possibly the best cornerback in all of college football this year.
Dior Mathis made a strong case to secure the other starting job with a fast start to spring drills, but fellow senior Troy Hill, JC transfer Dominique Harrison and redshirt freshman Chris Seisay all figure to challenge for the position over the next few weeks. Stephen Amoako and Michael Manns round out the returning cornerbacks.
At safety, Erick Dargan boasts not only starting experience from 2012 — after Avery Patterson's ACL injury at Cal — but a new attitude that saw him develop into one of the defense's better leaders over the last few months. That will be key, because the other safeties are largely unproven.
Reggie Daniels and Tyree Robinson waged a spirited battle to play alongside Dargan in the spring, and that figures to continue in August. Juwaan Williams took well to safety after practicing at cornerback last fall, to the point that he challenged Issac Dixon for reps behind Dargan.
Walk-on Bobby Dunn and Bronson Yim return having accumulated valuable scout-team experience.
With four seniors in the projected two-deep, the Ducks will need an infusion of talent soon.
The four true freshmen who arrived this summer have the chance to impact that depth chart soon, perhaps as early as this fall. Arrion Springs was a top recruit at cornerback, and Matt McGraw will open camp competing for time there as well.
Glen Ihenacho and Khalil Oliver will try to fight their way into the mix at safety.
Oregon's depth at corner might make it tough for a newcomer to challenge for reps as a nickelback, but this is a confident, talented bunch.
What to Watch:
The Daniels-Robinson battle in the spring set the stage for an entertaining competition in preseason camp. As nice as it would be to have some early clarity, an ongoing battle should motivate both guys to keep pushing, a good thing in the big picture.
The above two-deep at corner is very much written in pencil as well — other than Ekpre-Olomu — as the next four weeks provide ample opportunity to shake things up.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:
CB: Dior Mathis, Sr.; Dominique Harrison, Jr.; Stephen Amoako, So.; Arrion Springs, Fr. CB: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Sr.; Troy Hill, Sr.; Chris Seisay, RFr.; Matt McGraw, Fr.; Michael Manns, So. S: Erick Dargan, Sr.; Juwaan Williams, RFr.; Issac Dixon, Jr.; Khalil Oliver, Fr.; Bobby Dunn, Jr. S: Reggie Daniels, So.; Tyree Robinson, RFr.; Glen Ihenacho, Fr.; Bronson Yim, Jr.
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