The guessing game may be over regarding whether or not Oregon players ( LB Kiko Alonso and DE Dion Jordan ) will play on Saturday against USC in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Both players have been a virtual no show to media throughout the week and haven’t accepted interview requests. And as we, and all of you know, Oregon doesn’t address player injuries during the season.
The good news though is Alonso was seen taking the required daily post practice ice bath outside of the Ducks locker room on Thursday which certainly lends credibility to his participation in practice and the likelyhood of Alonso playing against the Trojans. Of course, all of us in the media can only guess by what we see since the talk of injuries is a no – no around the Casanova Center.
Although the extent of his injury can’t be confirmed, it’s believed Alonso has a severe injury to his right wrist since he’s been seen wearing a cast. Last Saturday against Colorado, Alonso wasn’t needed in the Ducks 70-14 pounding against the Buffaloes and sat out the game.
In regards to defensive end Dion Jordan, the same holds true. Although we can’t confirm Jordan’s injury, it’s believed he sustained some sort of shoulder injury during the first half of the Colorado game. Earlier this week, Jordan was only seen walking out of the Casanova Center in sweats with no visible sling on his arm or shoulder. In fact, Jordan seemed healthy by all accounts and is expected to suit up and play on Saturday.
How effective will Alonso and Jordan be? That remains to be seen.
Chip Kelly’s mantra has always been – ‘next man up’. That’s how the Ducks practice and that’s the philosophy of this team. If a player goes down to injury, the next player in should be prepared – mentally and physically to play.
When Alonso was sidelined, it was redshirt freshman Rahim Cassell and sophomore Derrick Malone that stepped in to fill that void. And both performed well which gives credit to Kelly’s mantra.
“We have a lot of kids that practice extremely hard and they deserve to play,” Kelly said after the Colorado game. “We constantly rotate a lot of guys to begin with … We don’t talk about this being a dictatorship or a democracy, it’s a meritocracy. You merit playing time by your performance during the week.”
And that philosophy works, albeit sometimes challenging if circumstances arise where more than one player at any given position becomes injured or ineligible.
In the case of injured defensive linemen Ricky Heimuli and Dion Jordan, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro had to come up with rotations to fill that void. Hybrid players like Malone, Tony Washington and Boseko Lokombo were often used on the outside as speed rushers.
It’s the preparation in practice that allows fast and athletic players like those to fill in at different positions when called upon.
While fans sometimes see losses of players like John Boyett, Carson York and Kiko Alonso as devastating, Kelly’s practice and preparation philosophy provides him the reassurance that his team will perform at an optimum level no matter who’s in the lineup.
Kelly consistantly stresses to his team, and to the media that if players prepare and play well in practice, they’ll see the field on Saturday’s.
There’s certainly comfort in that when you’re able to simply insert the next player with no significant drop off or let down in performance.
By the same token, it must also be nice knowing starters like Alonso and Jordan will be ready if called upon!