New Safeties Stepping Up

Week two of bowl preparation started Friday, as the Ducks were back at it after a three-day break. Friday also marked the beginning of the implementation of the team's game plan for Fiesta Bowl opponent Kansas State, Chip Kelly said.

EUGENE, Ore.,- Week two of bowl preparation started Friday, as the Ducks were back at it after a three-day break. Friday also marked the beginning of the implementation of the team's game plan for Fiesta Bowl opponent Kansas State, Chip Kelly said.

Because the Ducks only practice four times a week, the importance of each is multiplied. That is especially true in the secondary, where injuries have moved players from garbage-time minutes to extensive roles.

Sophomore Erick Dargan and James Scales began the season on the fringe of the two-deep, but knee injuries to John Boyett and Avery Patterson have flung them to the top.

"A lot of people have stepped their game up, just focusing more. We have to concentrate more because a lot more is on the line now," said Scales, who will back Brian Jackson up at strong safety.

While losing two experienced players might change the way the group operates as a whole, it won't change the way they approach things as individuals.

Scales says he's committed himself to watching more film in order to fine-tune the mistakes he might've made earlier in the season, because now, those mistakes can be more costly.

"Every game I just come out and be ready to play, because at some point my team might need me," said Dargan, who will start at free safety. "The young guys, we've stepped up together. We're just trying to keep the same beat, like everybody is playing together."

Sidelined by injuries, Patterson and Boyett remain greatly engrained as team members, both Dargan and Scales say. As vocal leaders, not much has changed for the pair, and their words are just as important as before.

"If you've got any questions you can ask him [Boyett]," Dargan said. "Avery is always there, he's always helping out. It's like they're still there, just not in [participating in] practice."

Dargan, who started the last two games in Patterson's place, is fifth on the team in tackles and has five takeaways this season. Scales has played in just seven games and has six tackles.

What the secondary expects from Kansas State is a steady barrage of Collin Klein. While Scales admits Klein is a skilled passer, especially in the short passing game, he says they're "more worried about him as a runner."

Having played quarterbacks of similar athletic composition, nothing Klein does will be particularly different, Scales said and Dargan says he's approaching it just like any other game.

"I feel like we've faced tougher opponents, but we're going into the game with the mindset of playing the next big game," Scales said.


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