The Oregon Ducks not only lost to Stanford for the fifth time in the past 20 years as a top 10 ranked team on Saturday; they also saw running back CJ Verdell fall with a lower leg injury that has left the star indefinitely.
As if that weren’t enough, coach Mario Cristobal revealed after the game that defensive back Bennett Williams – who is tied for second in the conference with three interceptions – suffered an ‘abnormal injury’ in training on Friday. and is also absent indefinitely.
Without Williams on Saturday, the team turned to Jamal Hill to replace him. Hill led the team with eight combined tackles, a strong start to the second, but replacing Williams won’t be limited to tackles – he’ll have to join the Intercept Squad in the Oregon high school.
As noted, Williams’ three interceptions are tied for second in the conference, behind fellow Oregon defensive player Verone McKinley III. Mykael Wright has one too, helping to give the Ducks one of the best revenue differentials in the country.
In order for the Oregon defense to continue to buzz under new DC Tim DeRuyter, they’ll need Hill to display some bullet-hawker abilities. Fortunately, Hill was billed as a safety with more ball skills coming out of high school, and he had two assists in the shortened 2020 campaign.
Now he will have the chance to play a huge role in the Oregon high school after his worst game of the season. How he responds to an increased role will go a long way in helping this team straighten out the ship for the remainder of 2021.