Monday, August 20, 2012

Oregon Ducks Secret Weapon: Defense

Wrong flock to mess with

I have a friend that played football at Arkansas and was a professor at Georgia, who said that people in SEC country have been holding their breaths for the last few years, hoping that Oregon never gets a defense that could match their offense.

Well, their worst fears may be coming true.  Talk around the team is that this could be the best defense under Chip Kelly.  They're fast, they're physical, they fly to the ball (no pun intended), they return 7 starters, but also have a lot of depth and experience, due to the way they rotate their players.

Now I know at Oregon most people like to talk about the offense, myself included, but a good defense can be just as fun to talk about.  Lets take a look at each level of the defense, and give some of these players the respect they deserve.

Dion Jordan sacking a beaver
DEFENSIVE LINE: Oregon's defensive line is loaded, and has developed depth which allows them to stay fresh.  This is important because of how fast Oregon's offense puts the defense back on the field.  

Led by Dion Jordan, who they call the praying mantis, the former TE turned DE was an all-Pac 12 conference selection last year, who had 71/2 sacks and is on the watch list for 4 awards, including 2 that go to the defensive player of the year (Bednarik and Nagurski).  He has an explosive first step, a proven pass rusher, the ability to finish, and should have his best year yet.

Another player Duck fans should be excited about it is blue-chip recruit Arik Armstead.  At 6-8, 290 pounds, already sounds like a one man wrecking crew.

LINEBACKERS:  Oregon's linebacking corps is loaded with Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, and Boseko Lokombo.  

Michael Clay was the team's second leading tackler a year ago and ranked second in the Pac 12 in tackles per game.   

Kiko Alonso has always had the talent - at 6-3, 225 pounds, he combines size with speed - he just couldn't get his act together off the field, which prevented him from realizing his potential.  Until last year.  As a back up he had 46 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 2 1/2 sacks, and 2 interceptions, including one in the Rose bowl that came at a crucial time, later earning him defensive MVP.

SECONDARY:  The secondary has depth, experience, speed, and athleticism all across the board.  Terrance Mitchell, Troy Hill, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and Dior Mathis have the corner positions locked down.  But the unquestioned leader of the secondary is John Boyett.

John Boyett
Oregon's four year starter at safety is a heat-seaking missle with unlimited range, that'll lower the boom and snot bubble any receiver who dares go over the middle.

Oregon's defense has the potential to be Chip Kelly's best.  Even though the offense gets most of the attention, the defense is capable of making big plays, creating turnovers, and getting stops.  Something we could all get excited about.  

A better defense means a more balanced team.  Something the rest of the college football world fears.

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