Oregon Football Loses 2 Stars: Can Ducks Still Contend?

The Oregon Ducks have lost two of their top players, John Boyett and Carson York, for the season, and now their ability to contend for a BCS berth and National Championship may be in question.

Boyett is one of the nation's top safeties, and he had been trying to deal with injuries to both the patellar tendons in his knees. He finally had to make the decision this week for surgery that will keep him out for six months.

York, a three-year starter on the Oregon offensive line, needs surgery after breaking his patella in the Ducks' game against Fresno State. He will miss the remainder of the season.

Avinash Kunnath, of SB Nation's Pacific Takes, wondered how the Ducks will be able to deal with this two key losses:

For all the talk about the USC Trojans being a team that could least afford injuries, the Oregon Ducks aren't too far behind. For the first time in a long time, there just isn't that much experience at many positions. The wide receivers still struggle to catch footballs. The offensive line isn't blocking quite as well. They're only 23rd this year in rushing YPC against weaker OOC competition, a concerning down from top 5 numbers the past two seasons.

As remarkable as Oregon's run of unparalled success has been their genuinely clean bill of health the past two seasons. Durability was the mark of this team as much as their speed and execution, exemplified by the Iron Duck LaMichael James. When Oregon stayed healthy, they were almost unbeatable; their players weren't just endurance machines, but they had the requisite experience to dominate their foes within their scheme.

This year, Oregon has been anything but healthy. Offensive linemen keep on getting hurt, and now their top lineman in York is out. Josh Huff has dealt with injuries. Boyett is the only significant injury on defense so far, but Oregon doesn't really have a replacement handy at free safety. That's a problem going forward.

The Ducks are currently No. 4 in both major polls and have won the Pac-12 championship three consecutive years. They have one more tune-up on Saturday against Tennessee Tech to adjust to life without Boyett and York before they start Pac-12 play with an improved Arizona team on Sept. 22.

For more on Boyett and Ducks football, visit Oregon blog Addicted To Quack, plus Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes.

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