The Oregon Ducks are looking to move on from the Chip Kelly era in Eugene and recapture the Pac 12 title in 2013 under new head coach Mark Helfrich. While much of the attention this offseason has been on how the offense will change with a new coach at the helm, the most important aspect of Oregon’s potential success next season is on the defensive side of the ball. With several key contributors from 2012 off the roster, the pressure is on for Boseko Lokombo to step up as a leader next season.
The Oregon defense was deceptively strong last season, but will have to try and hold things together without a number of playmakers off that defense. Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay and defensive end Dion Jordan in particular will be sorely missed. Alonso and Clay led the team in tackles and led the linebacker corps with their veteran experience while Jordan was a dynamic edge rusher who could also make plays in coverage.
But they are no longer in Eugene, leaving the onus on returning players like Lokombo to step up and take their place. The senior linebacker finished the 2012 season with 39 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble. In the absence of established leaders like Alonso and Clay in the linebacker group, Lokombo will have to step up his game on the field and in the locker room next fall.
For the Ducks to get back on top of the Pac 12, they will need their defense to play at least as well (if not better) as the unit in 2012. Can Lokombo lead the Oregon defense to new heights in 2013?