Every player on the Oregon roster has a role and a job to get Oregon their fourth straight Pac-12 title and back to a BCS bowl game in 2012.
Dion Jordan is an important piece of the 2012 Oregon Duck football team.
But what five players can Oregon not afford to lose at all costs? Today we take a look at those five players and examine what they bring to the table that no other player on the roster can bring to the table, thus making them irreplaceable.
5. Carson York, SR OL
Oregon's offense is only as good as the five offensive linemen that are out on the field. When the Ducks struggle up front the entire offense has trouble turning to engine on.
York is the most experienced offensive linemen at Oregon in a long time with 37 career starts with most coming at left or right guard. Next season he will once again man one of the guard positions and be a personal protector of a new quarterback, York's third in his career.
York is the unquestioned leader along the 2012 offensive line and his health going into the season will be crucial. During spring drills York says he was able to participate in some drills but was held out of the spring game. He did say he was ahead of schedule and could be ready for fall camp.
The offensive line in 2012 will either hit the ground running with York or could shuffle their feet as depth is established and younger players are forced into action.
4. Dion Jordan, SR DE
Jordan may only have 13 career starts in his career at Oregon but the 6-foot-7 and 241 pound end has become a terror for the Oregon defense. Jordan was named a 2011 All-Pac-12 first team member last season with 42 tackles and 13 for loss. Jordan also had a team high 7.5 sacks.
DAT will be a highlight of the Oregon offense again.
His particular skill-set allows Jordan to stop the run but also drop back into pass coverage and aid the Oregon secondary. Thus he's truly a one of a kind type defensive end for the Ducks. There isn't another defensive linemen that's proven that fits Jordan's frame and athletic ability.
In 2012 Jordan will be the focus of opposing offenses and his ability to get to the quarterback will be key for the Oregon defense. Without Jordan manning one of the end positions the Oregon defense just doesn't seem as lethal as it does with him in the lineup.
3. De'Anthony Thomas, SO RB/WR
Tough to place Thomas at number three seeing as every time Thomas touches the ball the chance to see him make a highlight play is there.
Thomas is a wild card in a hand of poker that Chip Kelly holds at the college football poker table. Thomas can do a little bit of everything in Kelly's offense and he proved it as a freshmen.
Thomas was the Pac-12 co-offensive freshman of the year while also being named the All-Pac-12 first team kick returner and a freshman All-American. Thomas was 11th in the nation last year in all-purpose yards with 2,235 yards and an amazing 159.6 per game. Remember he did that as the 'third' running back last season.
Now with LaMichael James gone and the chance for more carries out of the backfield as well as more receptions Thomas will get to showcase his amazing ability even more in Kelly's offense. If Thomas were removed from the lineup the Oregon offensive attack would seem less diverse.
2. John Boyett, SR S
Kenjon Barner will be the most irreplaceable player next season.
Michael Clay might be called the public heart and soul of the Oregon defense but John Boyett is the true heart and soul of the stingy defense. As a junior Boyett led the Ducks again in total tackles with 108 total stops and 67 solo. He had a career high 17 tackles and 13 being solo stops in the 2012 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The game before Boyett recorded a game-high 12 tackles in the Pac-12 Championship Game against UCLA.
Boyett is an All-American and All-Pac-12 player in multiple seasons and is going into his fourth year as a starter. Thinking of the Oregon defense without Boyett is a scary thought and losing Boyett for any kind of time next season could prove costly.
1. Kenjon Barner, RB SR
No other player on the Oregon roster next season might be irreplaceable as Barner will be next season. Barner was eighth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 78.2 yards per game and was a key player in games late in the season as the Ducks went on to win their third straight league title and the Rose Bowl in January.
With James going pro Barner moves from 1B to 1A in the Oregon depth chart at running back. His durability will be key for the Oregon Ducks who are lacking proven depth at running back besides Barner and Thomas.
Barner has also assumed one of the more vocal roles at Oregon as a senior among teammates and will be the player to set the tone for the Ducks in 2012. A huge year from Barner likely will mean the Ducks are once again playing late in November with a Pac-12 title and BCS bowl on the line. If he should be out of action at all the Oregon offensive machine might slow down.
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