Clipped Wings: The injury bug ravages the Oregon Ducks

By REED NELSON

Chip Kelly doesn’t talk about injuries. Oregon’s offensive guru made that point abundantly clear on his way into the locker room before halftime during Saturday’s Cal game.

“What injuries,” Kelly told ESPN. “We don’t talk about injuries.”

And why would he. A coach that’s comfortable with injury speculation is like a bank robber who’s comfortable discussing his crimes.

Good coaches say nothing about injuries, and the great ones use the speculation to their advantage. Bill Belichick, for instance, has left Tom Brady on the injury report since he graduated from Michigan (Did it nearly give me an ulcer using the adjective “great” to modify the asshole “Belichick?” Yes. Yes, it did. And I’m glad you asked).

While Kelly might be on the verge of greatness, but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.

Avery Patterson needs no speculation. Adam Jude of the Oregonian laid that unfortunate truth to rest yesterday morning. But the list of Ducks who were missing from Cal Memorial on Saturday isn’t nearly as troubling as the list of players who were forced off the field.

Dion Jordan couldn’t finish the game. Troy Hill and Dior Mathis — two now-key cogs in a depleted secondary — went down too.Ricky Heimuli was sidelined, along with fellow defensive linemen Isaac Remington and Taylor Hart. If you’re playing the home game, the only defensive lineman I’m missing so far is…

Wade Keliikipi.

My apologies. I hadn’t realized that you wanted to sprinkle some injury on to that insult. But like a joke that awful round of cheddar cheese in the Cheese-It commercial might play (still not buying the authenticity, by the way), I unscrewed the cap on that shaker. Instead of a sprinkle, you get A LOT of injury. Like, a Wade Keliikipi out for the season kind of a lot.

(I’m sorry if I’m making light of this situation. It’s how I handle stress. Well, it’s either this or an activity that is illegal in every state except Delaware. In Delaware it’s tolerated and that is the only hint I will give. Back on topic.)

The good news, however, is that Rob Moseley of the Register Guard reported that the Ducks starting defensive line against Stanford will be: Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli, Isaac Remington and Dion Jordon. Or, in other words, pretty much the same thing (minus Keliikipi).

Even Detroit’s Own Dior Mathis reportedly said he’d be ready to roll on Saturday, which means no more “De’Anthony Thomas at cornerback” rumors (a possibility that I was absolutely salivating over).

But after this last line of Ducks defense, things thin out even more considerably: Heimuli’s backup at nose guard is a true freshman, Alex Balducci, and Erick Dargan’s backup at safety is now wide receiver Ben Butterfield.

Just think about this: Two-and-a-half months ago, Avery Patterson was a backup, talking about filling the void left by proven rock John Boyett. Now, Patterson is the rock on crutches. Luckily for Oregon, their offense has given their second (and third and fourth and the band) unit plenty of work.

Kelly can claim silence in regards to injury for whatever reasons him and the program deem applicable. But if it were me, I’d keep the dropping Ducks out of sight, out of mind too. It’s better for the blood pressure.



Categories: Analysis, Features, News & Notes, Nooooooo

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