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Offseason Burning Questions: ST

With Signing Day officially in the books, so is the 2012 campaign for Oregon football. However, as one chapter closes another one opens and it's never too early to take a sneak peek at the upcoming season. DuckTerritory's "Offseason Burning Questions" series takes a look at each position on the Oregon depth chart and addresses the biggest questions at each spot, priming Duck fans for what they can perhaps expect in 2013. Today, the series concludes with an examination of special teams.

Will Alejandro Maldonado find redemption in 2013?

Projected 2013 Depth Chart:

Place Kicker:

Alejandro Maldonado - Sr.
Matt Wogan - Fr.
Eric Solis - Jr.

Punter:

Dylan Ausherman - Jr.
Alejandro Maldonado - Sr.
Matt Wogan - Fr.

Can Maldonado breakthrough in 2013?

Since taking over the bulk of the place kicking duties in 2011, the past two seasons have been rather unkind for senior-to-be kicker Alejandro Maldonado. After a game-tying 37-yard field goal attempt went begging in the final seconds in a 38-35 home loss versus USC in 2011, Maldonado was haunted nearly a year later to the day last season, as his missed 41-yard field goal attempt versus Stanford in overtime allowed the Cardinal to eventually walk out of Autzen Stadium with a 17-14 victory. Both plays could have potentially secured national championship appearances for the Ducks, but unfortunately, both plays have underscored Maldonado's play in Eugene to this point. For his career, Maldonado is 10-of-18 on field goal attempts; a success rate that has been simply been too inconsistent to be relied upon. Can Maldonado finally find consistency in 2013? Much of that would seem to depend on the psyche of Maldonado. The disappointment of missing two critical kicks in back-to-back seasons has no doubt weighed heavily on the Colton (Calif.) native and the pressure is on to stave off decorated incoming freshman, Matt Wogan. Time still remains for Maldonado to finish his collegiate career on a high note, though opportunities may be slowly dwindling.

How prominent is Matt Wogan's role?

It could be significant. Rated as the No. 2 kicker in the country by the prestigious Chris Sailor Kicking academy, Wogan will arrive on campus this summer with the reputation of possessing an explosive leg. As a senior last season, Wogan converted on 11-of-16 field goal attempts, connecting on five field goals of 51 yards or longer, including a Union County (N.C.) record 58-yarder. Perhaps more impressive are Wogan statistics on kickoffs, where his booming leg accounted for 85 touchbacks on 95 attempts, with the majority of his kicks soaring through the endzone completely. Though it's difficult to say whether he will supplant Maldonado for place kicking duties, one can bet that Wogan will receive every opportunity to prove himself worthy of the job come fall camp. The job of kickoff specialist however seems to be his for the taking, as the Ducks struggled mightily getting consistent distance and hang time on kickoff attempts last season.

What should be expected of Dylan Ausherman?

After redshirting last year following his transfer from junior college, Ausherman is the leading candidate to take over for departed senior Jackson Rice at punter. Like Wogan, Ausherman is a student of the Chris Sailor Kicking academy, where he rated near the top of his class at the conclusion of the camp. In his final season at College of the Sequoias, Ausherman punted 67 times over 10 games, booming six punts 50 yards or more and dropping eight inside the 20-yard line against only one touchback. The greatest challenge for Ausherman will be matching Rice's incredible consistency, particularly in pinning return men deep in their own territory. Replacing arguably one of the most accomplished punters in school history won't be easy, but with a redshirt season under his belt, Ausherman should be primed for the task.

Offseason Burning Questions: QB
Offseason Burning Questions: RB
Offseason Burning Questions: WR
Offseason Burning Questions: TE
Offseason Burning Questions: OL
Offseason Burning Questions: DL
Offseason Burning Questions: LB
Offseason Burning Questions: CB
Offseason Burning Questions: SAF

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