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College Football Preview: 6. Oregon Ducks

6. Oregon Ducks Returning Starters: 14 Returning Star: RB Kenjon Barner Key Loss: QB Darron Thomas Player to Watch: WR De'Anthony Thomas Many people could look at this Ducks team, and with the losses of stars Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, count them out. But with the return of underrated Kenjon Barner and an improving defense the Ducks will still be in the title hunt. Thomas might not have had a great arm but nobody can deny the fact that he went 22-3 in two seasons there. Thomas' replacement will likely be sophomore Bryan Bennett. Bennett is not experienced but I think he'll do good in Chip Kelly's offense. He has a good back to take off the strain in Barner. Barner's first few seasons at Oregon were overshadowed by James but now he has the backfield position all to himself. Barner isn't as fast as James but is just as athletic and can find lanes. Though the most athletic player on the Ducks offense isn't Bennett nor Barner. Its wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas who had a spectacular freshman year. Thomas is especially valuable on special teams where his speed carries him. If he can become more of a receiver and blocker he could become on of the best overall players in the nation. Justin Hoffman and Josh Huff aren't as athletic as Thomas but are more reliable targets for a maturing Bennett. The offensive line is nothing more then decent. Guard Carson York is an experienced blocker and senior Nick Cody will be a big help. The defense has always taken a backseat to the offense but don't underestimate it especially after 8 starters return. The defensive line is definitely one of the teams strengths being one of the best in the Pac 12. End Dion Jordan is fast and has good moves. He'll keep tackles occupied freeing the way for improving sophomore Tony Washington on the other side. Junior Taylor Hart is a talent at the tackle slot. The Ducks secondary was strong last season but losing Cliff Harris and Eddie Pleasent stings. Senior safety John Boyett returns as a reliable tackler. But, both cornerbacks are sophomores and not very experienced. With Thomas the special teams is lethal and senior punter Jackson Rice is one of the best in the Pac 12. Heisman Hopeful: Kenjon Barner Pac 12 Rank: 2nd

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