The Oregon Ducks have tried to cruise through their OOC play as much as they can unscathed, even if it means less than remarkable victories. Unfortunately, they're not getting that luck. The injury bug that's bitten the rest of the Pac-12 is starting to hit them in the worst spots.
You have the critical John Boyett, one of the best free safeties in the nation, out with patellar tendon tears.
"I’ve had a lingering injury that I played through all last year," Boyett said in a prepared statement published on the Napa (Calif.) Valley Register website. "The hope was, through different treatments and certain types of rehab during this past offseason, they would heal up and I’d be ready to go for my senior year. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned. I’ve been dealing with a tremendous amount of pain for a long time.
"(It’s) sort of like, they repaired the cable and instead of the cable breaking again, the wall broke," said York, always one of Oregon’s most quotable players.
Where does that leave Oregon? In uncertain territory, that's where.
For all the talk about the USC Trojans being a team that could least afford injuries, the Oregon Ducks aren't too far behind. For the first time in a long time, there just isn't that much experience at many positions. The wide receivers still struggle to catch footballs. The offensive line isn't blocking quite as well. They're only 23rd this year in rushing YPC against weaker OOC competition, a concerning down from top 5 numbers the past two seasons.
As remarkable as Oregon's run of unparalled success has been their genuinely clean bill of health the past two seasons. Durability was the mark of this team as much as their speed and execution, exemplified by the Iron Duck LaMichael James. When Oregon stayed healthy, they were almost unbeatable; their players weren't just endurance machines, but they had the requisite experience to dominate their foes within their scheme.
This year, Oregon has been anything but healthy. Offensive linemen keep on getting hurt, and now their top lineman in York is out. Josh Huff has dealt with injuries. Boyett is the only significant injury on defense so far, but Oregon doesn't really have a replacement handy at free safety. That's a problem going forward.
- Rob Moseley also reported that "senior Kyle Long did not play at all on the offensive line [against Fresno State], and Carson York, Jake Fisher and Ryan Clanton all were sidelined by game’s end."
- Wide receiver Josh Huff was on the sideline using crutches Saturday due to an apparent knee injury of unknown severity. Senior Rahsaan Vaughn is Huff's most likely replacement.
- DE/DT Jared Ebert didn't play against Fresno State, also because of an apparent knee injury. His absence likely will mean more playing time for true freshmen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.
At Addicted to Quack, jtlight details the tough nature of the Boyett injury for the Ducks.
This is simply devastating news, as this effectively ends Boyett's career as a Duck. Already having redshirted, there is little chance he would receive a waiver from the NCAA to play another season. Boyett has been a leader on the defense for 3 years, and he will be sorely missed, not only for his on-the-field production, but because he played with a fearlessness and tenacity not seen often.
The Ducks now face a tough situation at safety. Boyett is probably the player on the roster toughest to replace. There is little proven talent behind him, nor have the knack for playing free safety. In fact, Boyett is the only player on the roster listed as a free safety. The Ducks will need Avery Patterson and the rest of the secondary to step up quickly. Luckily they will have another game before conference play begins.
NeuroDoc Duck touched on the nature of repairing damaged knees at Fish Duck. Well worth the read if you're interested in the nature of repairing sports injuries..