More Pressing Concerns Than Saturday's Decision

Chip Kelly stated today he'll announce who the starting quarterback is on Saturday. The week before the season opener. Just like he said he would. Just like I said he should. Regardless of whether it's Costa or Thomas, the Ducks will be fine offensively as long as they are healthy.

Defensively, the experience is there, but a talented secondary needs to get its depth chart figured out. Talmadge Jackson will start at one corner, but the other side is still up for grabs. Cliff Harris, Anthony Gildon, Avery Patterson, Scott Grady now vie for the other side. Terrance Mitchell and Chad Peppars also have their hat in the mix.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and secondary coach John Neal are both pleased with the depth they have at the position. All of those guys are pretty good ball players, and many of them contributed or even started for arguably the best defense in the Pac-10 last year. Unfortunately, none of them has separated himself from the pack to become the clear-cut #2. This can be viewed as beneficial for the Ducks, since depending on what packages they send out there many of them might be on the field at once. In a field this deep and talented, it's good to know you don't lose much, if anything, the deeper you go on the roster.

At the same time, corners play on their own island. While the quarterback is the leader, he has a tremendous support system that starts with the experienced offensive line and continues on through the rookie-rushing record holder LaMichael James. The Ducks have shown you can insert different quarterbacks into this system and they will succeed because of the system. The corners, on the other hand, are out there on their own, and blown coverage will prove costly.

Aliotti says “The strength might be that we have three or four guys who can be pretty darn good.” Yes, it's good to be deep. But you want the players to know when and where they'll be out there, and what their responsibilities are. This is not a position you want to have to be tweaking as the season starts. If a quarterback makes mistakes, others can cover for him. If a corner makes a mistake, it's his and his alone. Neal believes "I don’t think any of them have my complete trust in terms of all the things we ask them to do in the scheme and the technique." At least Costa or Thomas will have the position sealed up before New Mexico. It doesn't look like the secondary will be nearly as solidified. Cliff Harris better figure out how to stay focused.

 

Comments