2013 season in review: Special teams
by Rob MoseleyEditor, GoDucks.com
P: Alejandro Maldonado, Sr.; Dylan Ausherman, Jr.; Ian Wheeler, Fr. PK: Matt Wogan, Fr.; Alejandro Maldonado, Sr.; Eric Solis, Jr.; Hayden Crook, RFr. LS: Drew Howell, Sr.; Connor Johnson, Fr. HLD: Dustin Haines, Sr.; Jeff Lockie, RFr. KOR: De’Anthony Thomas, Jr.; Keanon Lowe, Jr. PR: Bralon Addison, So.; Chad Delaney, Sr.
Starters: The senior Maldonado opened the season handling both placekicks and punts, but after another confidence-rattling miss against UCLA he focused full-time on punting and the freshman Wogan took over placekicks. Wogan missed his longest attempt of the year, a late 43-yard attempt in the Civil War that became moot thanks to Josh Huff’s heroics, but he converted six placekicks over the final four games. That included a 3-of-4 performance in the Alamo Bowl, the only miss hitting the upright. Among the myriad storylines coming out of the bowl game, that confidence-boosting day for Wogan is not to be overlooked.
The long snapper Howell completed his career in fitting fashion, going out with little fanfare. That was the story of his four years in Eugene; Howell was so consistent, you never noticed him. Haines took over as the holder, operating the extra-point crew and its frequent two-point attempts, which as usual had their highlights and lowlights. Oregon’s kickoff teams, both returners and in coverage, were about average nationally, with Thomas’ ankle injury hurting the return unit. Addison’s emergence helped the punt return team finish 20th nationally, and the Ducks had the nation’s No. 10 punt coverage unit.
Reserves: Ausherman came off a redshirt year but couldn’t surpass Maldonado in fall camp. Solis and Crook practiced placekicks with Wogan and Maldonado. When Thomas went down, Josh Huff and Troy Hill stepped in to return kickoffs, and B.J. Kelley put his speed to use on two attempts to lead the team in kick-return average at 26.5 yards.
Redshirts: A guy to keep an eye on is the punter Wheeler. He’s got a stout frame that houses a very powerful leg. The Ducks also redshirted a long snapper, Johnson.
P: Dylan Ausherman, Sr.; Ian Wheeler, RFr. PK: Matt Wogan, So.; Eric Solis, Sr.; Hayden Crook, So. LS: Connor Johnson, RFr. HLD: Jeff Lockie, RFr.; Jake Rodrigues, So. KOR: Thomas Tyner, So.; Keanon Lowe, Sr. PR: Bralon Addison, Jr.; Darren Carrington, RFr.
The best competition could be at punter, where Wheeler has enough power to give Ausherman a run for his money. There also figures to be plenty of competition to return kickoffs, with the freshman Tyner given an early edge here. Wogan should be a more confident kicker coming off last season’s experience. The graduation of Howell along with the injury sidelining Tyler Johnstone should mean a heavy workload for Johnson as the long snapper.