College football is back! The Ducks begin fall camp on Monday so we're breaking down each position to determine if the Ducks, picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12, and their fans will be smelling roses as Pac-12 champs during a trip to the Rose Bowl, or placing bets at a roulette table prior to watching a sixth-place UO team in the Las Vegas Bowl. Each position is graded using the poker hand scale.
Today: Defensive backs.
Projected starters: Redshirt junior cornerback Chris Seisay (6-1, 190), junior cornerback Arrion Springs (5-11, 205), redshirt senior safety Reggie Daniels (6-1, 205) and redshirt junior safety Tyree Robinson (6-4, 205).
Key backups: Sophomore cornerback Ugo Amadi (5-10, 185), redshirt junior safety Juwaan Williams (6-0, 195), redshirt junior cornerback Ty Griffin (6-0, 200), redshirt sophomore safety Khalil Oliver (6-0, 200) and redshirt freshman cornerback Malik Lovette (5-11, 205).
Smelling like roses: Oregon's secondary has a lot to prove and its development will make or break the defense. The Ducks' defensive backs showed improvement late last season before the second-half collapse against TCU in the Alamo Bowl. The group contributed heavily to the team allowing an alarming 35 touchdown passes.
One could expect that a year of experience coupled with a huge helping of humble pie might lead to a dramatic growth curve. Oregon has six defensive backs competing for starting jobs, and all six have legitimate talent and experience to draw upon. Williams is in the hunt to start over Daniels, and Seisay is in a battle with Springs and Amadi to start at one of the two corner spots. That level of competition should push all involved to be the best version of themselves.
There's too much talent here for this group to be as bad as it was last season.
Place your bets: If the secondary does not become at least good, the Ducks' defense could be toast. The front seven is replacing six starters with a group of defensive linemen and linebackers mostly made up of question marks with upside. Couple that with the desire to be more aggressive in new defensive coordinator Brad Hoke's 4-3 defense and Oregon could be in trouble if the back end of the defense can't protect the front seven.
Odds are: The secondary will be better, but likely not good enough to carry the front seven. The good news is that most of the defensive backs will return in 2017.
Poker hand: Two pair with a card to go. That's being generous, but at least this group is comprised of mostly experienced players with elite-level talent. If the Ducks get lucky on the river, this hand could produce a full house. But that's a big if.