There is something weird about writing this story from where I currently am. Right now I am sitting, being warmed by the fireplace inside the Jaqua Center at the University of Oregon. Over the last few weeks two Oregon football players have gotten in trouble, in one way or another.
Starting Tight End Pharoah Brown was suspended for his role in a snowball fight and late last week Backup Cornerback Troy Hill was suspended after an arrest for assault, which according to the report included strangulation. I will not talk about anything here, but will let the facts come out in the case of Hill. This is also the stance that Oregon Head Football Coach Mark Helfrich is taking with his young cornerback. Hill is suspended from the team until the legal process has a chance to work itself out.
So, where does that leave the Oregon Ducks come December 30th when they have to face Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl? For starters, they are down two solid players, but their backups, especially Tight End Johnny Mundt will be up to the challenge. Mundt likely takes the place of Brown as the starter. He showed this season against Tennessee that he can handle the responsibility. The area that is a little less clear is on the Defensive side of the ball.
On one end you have Ifo Ekpre Olomu, who will play in the game, but he has an important decision to make over the next few weeks. To stay or go. Olomu is a Junior and can elect to leave the Ducks for a chance at the next level. Oregon Quarterback Marcus Mariota and Center Hroniss Grasu have already given Duck fans a nice Christmas present and both stated their intent to return for 2014. Another player on Offense, Running Back De’Anthony Thomas is in a similar position to Olomu as he also has to make the same decision to play for Oregon next season or take a chance at the NFL
For the bowl game Oregon will likely rely on some young talent in the second string position, including Dior Mathis, Avery Patterson and some of the young Freshman talent including possibly the Robinson Twins. Next season will also bring some questions for Oregon Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti as Patterson, and Senior Brian Jackson are finishing their careers at Oregon following the bowl game on December 30th.
The one thing about the Ducks the last few years is their successful track record of being able to fill positions with younger talent from year to year without too much of a falloff. Oregon has quite a few players returning for the 2014 season. For the fans who have names the names of the 2013 squad in their heads we can assume that when 2014 comes around we will add some new names. Of course, having a Thomas and an Olomu in the mix could make things easier.
Oregon faces off against Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl on December 30th(3:45pm PT, ESPN)
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