Photo courtesy of David Putzier at Flickr.

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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Duck Stuff: Morning Mud

Morning Mud
Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas make the Paul Hornung Award watch list it was announced yesterday.

Two Oregon Ducks are on the Paul Hornung Award Watch list for the nation's most versatile player. According to a media release from the Louisville Sports Commission, senior Kenjon Barner and sophomore De'Anthony Thomas have been added to the post-season honors award list.

• Josh Huff's trial for DUII was postponed until Jan. 23.

• Aaron Fentress previews the linebackers and defensive line while Rob Moseley previews the speacials teams group.

Fentress on LB's: After years of off-field trouble and on-field letdowns, Alonso's play caught up with his physical gifts last season and he delivered a defensive MVP performance in the Rose Bowl. As a backup last season, he had 46 tackles (six for loss), 2 1/2 sacks and two interceptions. Should he double that output as a starter, he could be all-Pac-12 and assure himself of being selected in next spring's NFL draft. Lokombo has demonstrated a knack for making big plays. He scored three times last season, twice on interception returns and once on a return of a blocked punt. When Oregon goes to a 3-4 defense, defensive end Dion Jordan becomes an outside linebacker, making this crew even more menacing. Oregon had a strong linebacker recruiting class in 2011.

Fentress on DL: Tthe Ducks annually return several defensive linemen with extensive game experience. After Dion Jordan, the experience at the 4-3 defensive end position drops off considerably. So much so that the gap between UO's 3-4 and 4-3 looks could widen. Oregon has an ample supply of big, athletic tackles capable of playing the 3-4 defensive end position and nose guard. Plus, Jordan's future in the NFL likely will be as a 3-4 linebacker.

Moseley on special teams: For all the talent and experience Oregon has elsewhere, there's no better position group on the team than special teams in that regard. Senior punter Jackson Rice is back for his fourth year as the starter, after being a Ray Guy Award finalist last season. Rob Beard wants to put a junior year marred by a quad injury behind him, but will need to hold off junior Alejandro Maldonado for the placekicking job in order to do so. Maldonado was pressed into duty last year despite an injury of his own, and was said to be booming the ball in spring practices. The guys snapping to the kickers, Drew Howell and Jeff Palmer, are also vastly experienced and have made minimal mistakes during their careers. And the Ducks have a ton of options to return kicks, in Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff, Keanon Lowe, B.J. Kelley, Brian Jackson, Terrance Mitchell and Dior Mathis, among others.


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