Loss Of Patterson Thins Out Secondary

Junior safety Avery Patterson had tears streaming down his face as he staggered to the Oregon locker room in the second half of Saturday's game. If that didn't say enough about his outlook for the remainder of the season, the crutches he hauled himself around with Monday did.

EUGENE, Ore.,-Oregon coaches don't discuss injuries, but in the past have said players will suit up unless they cannot fit into the pads or are unable to participate. The latter seems to be the case for Patterson.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said Monday that they were getting thinner in the secondary. Patterson would definitely seem to be part of that thinning out.

That process may see yet another freshmen burn their redshirt year. Who that might be is not certain at this time, but Arizona-native Reggie Daniels did make the trip to Berkeley.

"Obviously we're going to try and get somebody ready," Aliotti said of preparing someone to filling in in the secondary.

The logical candidate to directly replace Patterson is Erick Dargan who has been listed as both Patterson and Brian Jackson's backup for the majority of the season. Dargan's versatility, Aliotti says, has been a real testament to his intelligence and athletic ability. It's also something Aliotti will expect from each of his remaining secondary players.

"We're to the point where they've got to know how to play nickel, rover, free safety and corner," he said.

Whether that means Ifo Ekpre-Olomu sees time at safety or Dargan at cornerback, the secondary will require personnel shifts, possibly on a play-by-play basis.

Cornerbacks Troy Hill and Dior Mathis and safety Isaac Dixon didn't travel last weekend, and their ability to play in the future will factor into the unit's depth. Safety James Scales, who had played sparingly thus far this season, received a boost in participation against the Golden Bears.

Taking what Dargan has done this season to another level, freshman Koa Ka'ai made the switch from offense to defense against California. It's not an unfamiliar transition for the Hawaii native, as he made began his career on defense before switching to tight end in the off-season.

Ka'ai was one of many "young puppies", as Aliotti put it, who stepped up on the defensive line for the Ducks, and despite making the move on Wednesday of last week, Ka'ai says he picked it up quickly.

"I remember most of the stuff that coach Azz (defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro) taught me. The way he teaches the stuff and drills it into us, it's pretty easy to go back," Ka'ai said.

The permanence of the move is undetermined, Ka'ai says and joked that he wouldn't be surprised to be kicking field goals next week, something he's never done before.

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