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Ducks Must Rely on Defense

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As Oregon fans, we have been spoiled over the years with exciting and high-powered offenses. In the best of those years, the offense was paired with what could be described as a “bend but don’t break” defense. Oregon was not a recruiting power during the Kelly-Helfrich era and therefore did not have the talent to put together a dominating, lock-down defense. Well, ...

 

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The Kelly offensive years were beyond fun, but a dominating D can be a blast as well, look no further than Georgia. Last week, Kentucky exploded for 13 points against the No.1 Bulldogs; before that Georgia had allowed 5,5 points a game.

 

Oregon's defense isn't at that level. But KT, Sewell, McKinley, Dorlus, this team has the players on D to make life miserable for Pac-12 teams, and be wildly entertaining doing it. The "Bend But Don't Break" defense was a perfect match for the blur. A suffocating D has to be the counterpart for Cristobal's design. 

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Thanks Darren. 

 

Very timely as the D on Saturday is going to have to stand up and hold up against an excellent rushing attack. 

 

UCLA has rushed for 200+ yards in its last 13 games. The UCLA OL and running attack punished the LSU DL and LB corps. LSU obviously has coaching issues in 2021 but the guys playing for LSU are all top drawer recruits.

 

Unfortunately UCLA's weakness, defending the mid-range and deep ball in pass coverage, is not likely to be oft exploited by this Oregon O?

 

If DTR at QB is playing well, he is so streaky, the Bruins will be tough to stop.

 

Between Kelly's and the Ducks desire to run the ball this game could be over in 3 hours?

 

Will anyone be surprised if this tilt finishes as a 1 score differential W for one or the other team?

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Great article and the defense is so important this year under Cristobal. The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball is unlike any team we have seen, except for our big guys, but Thibs should help cover up that weakness. 

 

The main item I think we need from the defense is to continue to win the turnover battle. At home we win the turnover battle, but on the road we have struggled.

 

UCLA is surging in the turnover statistics, while Oregon is dropping. If these two statistics continue this direction we won't be happy come Saturday afternoon.

 

Oregon will be relying on our defense, but also its ability to create turnovers, which may be the telling statistic.

5r0lwn.jpg

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I too think that the pressure provided by the return of KT will help the defense step up.  Nothing like a harried QB to cause incompletions and interceptions.

 

With linebackers helping to stop the run, crossing patterns have hurt the Ducks' deep zone coverage.  I think Kelly will plan for this.

 

When WSU gets its act together they are very dangerous in their passing attack against our deep zone.

 

Here's hoping the defense makes a dominate statement!

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First off, if Dennis Dixon doesn't get hurt in 2007, we probably would have a natty.  QB play was critical, we rolled through 4 other QB's and Justin Roper finally gelled with enough time to prepare for a meaningless bowl game blow out of an over-rated UCF.  A couple games in he gave way to a JC Transfer by the name of laptop thief, errrr,  Masoli.  There were some bigtime RB's (Stewart, Johnson) and receivers, Tight Ends, and O-linemen on that team, and some stars on D too.  Overall recruiting stars were not even close to what we have now though, but coached up to an elite D1 level.

 

I've been saying it for weeks now, the box score numbers are not impressive (look at total yards given up to Cal, AZ) but the D has been keeping us in these games.  We DO have some elite talent, except maybe the interior D-line positions, the one place tOSU, Bama, Oklahomie, Clemson, etc. seem to get.  They also get the playoff spots...just saying.

 

Take-aways are key.  We've only throw 2 picks all year, and until last Saturday, maybe 1 fumble lost?  What did we add, 2 more?  And no take-aways.  Winning the take-away/give-away ratio will play into our success to close out the second half of this season.  Get back to what we did to have a couple picks and a fumble forced and recovered, and don't cough it up, and it just gives the prevent offense that many more chances to actually score.  Last time I checked, winning required you to score more points than your opponent.  And no, we ain't Georgia-D.

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On 10/19/2021 at 7:59 AM, Jon Joseph said:

Unfortunately UCLA's weakness, defending the mid-range and deep ball in pass coverage, is not likely to be oft exploited by this Oregon O?

 

This is the KEY analysis point that matters, and it is not good for Oregon. To keep up with the scoring of UCLA...we must exploit it and we have not shown we can thus far.

 

Great stuff Jon.

Mr. FishDuck

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On 10/19/2021 at 5:22 AM, 30Duck said:

The Kelly offensive years were beyond fun, but a dominating D can be a blast as well, look no further than Georgia. Last week, Kentucky exploded for 13 points against the No.1 Bulldogs; before that Georgia had allowed 5,5 points a game.

 

Oregon's defense isn't at that level. But KT, Sewell, McKinley, Dorlus, this team has the players on D to make life miserable for Pac-12 teams, and be wildly entertaining doing it. The "Bend But Don't Break" defense was a perfect match for the blur. A suffocating D has to be the counterpart for Cristobal's design. 

 

So true, and we may well be on our way to being know for Defense, who'd of ever thought? 

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On 10/19/2021 at 7:59 AM, Jon Joseph said:

Thanks Darren. 

 

Very timely as the D on Saturday is going to have to stand up and hold up against an excellent rushing attack. 

 

 

 

Yes, defense! We've all been complaing about the offense so much lately we forgot that there are other things to complain about!! ; )

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On 10/19/2021 at 8:15 AM, Haywarduck said:

Great article and the defense is so important this year under Cristobal. The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball is unlike any team we have seen, except for our big guys, but Thibs should help cover up that weakness. 

 

The main item I think we need from the defense is to continue to win the turnover battle. At home we win the turnover battle, but on the road we have struggled.

 

UCLA is surging in the turnover statistics, while Oregon is dropping. If these two statistics continue this direction we won't be happy come Saturday afternoon.

 

Oregon will be relying on our defense, but also its ability to create turnovers, which may be the telling statistic.

5r0lwn.jpg

 

Yup, defense for sure. The Ducks are going to need to channel their inner-OhioSt performance to win this one. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 8:31 AM, Smith72 said:

I too think that the pressure provided by the return of KT will help the defense step up.  Nothing like a harried QB to cause incompletions and interceptions.

 

With linebackers helping to stop the run, crossing patterns have hurt the Ducks' deep zone coverage.  I think Kelly will plan for this.

 

When WSU gets its act together they are very dangerous in their passing attack against our deep zone.

 

Here's hoping the defense makes a dominate statement!

 

Hopefully, the early season injury is behind KT, and we can get a fully charged KT leading the defense to fully come together and put up a terrific performance. There have been flashes, now we need a complete game. 

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Darren, I love the premise of this article, and what you write is true; we do have the talent to have a stifling defense.

 

The problem is, the defense unfortunately has been more than leaky ... it has been simply bad for most of the season. For all of the justifiable complaints about the offense, we actually rank far better offensively than we do defensively (51st in yards per game and 89th in yards allowed per game). I'm skeptical of the replicability of turnovers; I think they can be coached to a degree, but they're still a highly volatile metric. I'd like to see us simply give up less yards as a consistent means of success. 

 

Sewell is a force in the run game, but I'd like to see our interior defensive linemen pull their weight. I talk all the time about the talent we've accumulated, but the defensive interior is one area where we haven't recruited all that well, and it was a concern of mine heading into the season. I've long been begging for a pass rusher opposite Thibodeaux to step up, and surprisingly, that just might be DJ Johnson who has shown more promise than anyone else this season. I don't want to be too hard on the coaches here, because Bradyn Swinson and Trevon Ma'ae are still really young, so they might be next in line as far as pass rushers go.

 

Mykael Wright has been good, maybe even really good this season. And McKinley has been dominant for stretches this season. But each of their opposites have struggled, and a secondary really needs each member playing at an above-average level to get consistently good results. I liked seeing Bridges make plays on Friday, and hopefully he continues to get better, because he has real plus traits at the position.

 

I sound like a broken record, but I do think the future of this defense is going to be determined by how well DeRuyter can coach the players up. If he's going to play spot-drop zones, the linebackers have to be taught where to drop, and what routes to read, because too often they look lost in underneath coverage. Ideally, I'd love to see us line up and play a bunch of cover 1 with our athletes in the defensive backfield, but I don't know if that's the route DeRuyter wants to go. 

 

As with the whole team, this defense has the potential to be elite. Personnel wise, aside from the inside linebacker position opposite Sewell and on the defensive interior, we have NFL-caliber athletes. Can they be coached well enough to play like NFLers? That's the million dollar question.

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On 10/19/2021 at 8:38 AM, JDuck said:

First off, if Dennis Dixon doesn't get hurt in 2007, we probably would have a natty.  QB play was critical, we rolled through 4 other QB's and Justin Roper finally gelled with enough time to prepare for a meaningless bowl game blow out of an over-rated UCF.  A couple games in he gave way to a JC Transfer by the name of laptop thief, errrr,  Masoli.  There were some bigtime RB's (Stewart, Johnson) and receivers, Tight Ends, and O-linemen on that team, and some stars on D too.  Overall recruiting stars were not even close to what we have now though, but coached up to an elite D1 level.

 

I've been saying it for weeks now, the box score numbers are not impressive (look at total yards given up to Cal, AZ) but the D has been keeping us in these games.  We DO have some elite talent, except maybe the interior D-line positions, the one place tOSU, Bama, Oklahomie, Clemson, etc. seem to get.  They also get the playoff spots...just saying.

 

Take-aways are key.  We've only throw 2 picks all year, and until last Saturday, maybe 1 fumble lost?  What did we add, 2 more?  And no take-aways.  Winning the take-away/give-away ratio will play into our success to close out the second half of this season.  Get back to what we did to have a couple picks and a fumble forced and recovered, and don't cough it up, and it just gives the prevent offense that many more chances to actually score.  Last time I checked, winning required you to score more points than your opponent.  And no, we ain't Georgia-D.

 

When I mentioned 2007 I was referring to that era of football (like the LSU Tigers back then) not specifically the 2007 Ducks, but you make solid points about that 2007 team. Certainly not on Georgia's level, but the Ducks can step it up on D to help win out a relatively weak remaining schedule. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 8:55 AM, Charles Fischer said:

 

This is the KEY analysis point that matters, and it is not good for Oregon. To keep up with the scoring of UCLA...we must exploit it and we have not shown we can thus far.

 

Great stuff Jon.

 

If the Ducks could only just step up the Defense AND Passing game .... boy am I asking for a lot!!! ; )

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"I’m burned out on writing how Mario Cristobal needs to change his offense. I have accepted that he will not change and that we’re wasting our breath on calling for him to do so. Therefore, if the Ducks are going to win the rest of their games, they need to improve in other areas since we simply cannot count on the offense to get better."

 

Duck Fans...what Darren wrote above is right, but could you ever have imagined it would come to this?  Oregon was known for offense, and we have declined to this?

 

Takes my breath away.

Mr. FishDuck

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My gut says the defense is going to get more stout from here on out. I think now that KT is settling in and we have many of the injured players back things will start to tighten up. Now if we could still have Flowe and Bennett Williams on the field then I would be feeling really good. No doubt though that recruiting big gnarly defensive lineman has been the achilles heel of the Ducks football team for time immemorial. 

 

One defensive guy that just hasn't been as successful as I expected is Mase Funa. I guess he has been a bit banged up, but now that he is in his third year in the program I assumed he would start being a force, but it just hasn't happened for him unfortunately. He had 4 sacks and 8.5 tfl's his Freshman year in 2019 and has had zero sacks and 4.5 tfl's since.

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On 10/19/2021 at 9:55 AM, C J said:

One defensive guy that just hasn't been as successful as I expected is Mase Funa

 

One of the most highly rated defensive players ever recruited, and while he is not a bust...we assumed he would be playing like Sewell at his position.  I've been surprised there as well.  Out of position?  (Guessing)

Mr. FishDuck

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On 10/19/2021 at 10:02 AM, Charles Fischer said:

Out of position?  (Guessing)

Possibly, but I think more than anything he just seems to have nagging injuries that keep him from playing full tilt.

 

 It's astounding how many injured linebackers we have.

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On 10/19/2021 at 9:52 AM, Charles Fischer said:

"I’m burned out on writing how Mario Cristobal needs to change his offense. I have accepted that he will not change and that we’re wasting our breath on calling for him to do so. Therefore, if the Ducks are going to win the rest of their games, they need to improve in other areas since we simply cannot count on the offense to get better."

 

Duck Fans...what Darren wrote above is right, but could you ever have imagined it would come to this?  Oregon was known for offense, and we have declined to this?

 

Takes my breath away.

 

High flying Defense paired with a bend but don't break Offense! Go Ducks!!!

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On 10/19/2021 at 9:52 AM, Charles Fischer said:

Take( s) my breath away.

 

 

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On 10/19/2021 at 10:10 AM, 30Duck said:

 

 

Exactly what had popped in my mind....

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Hopefully with Alex Forsyth, Mase Funa, DJ James, Trey Benson are all expected to play at UCLA's game along with Joe Moorhead will help or cause to pull out a win.

Edited by NJDuck
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On 10/19/2021 at 11:26 AM, NJDuck said:

Hopefully with Alex Forsyth, Mase Funa, DJ James, Trey Benson are all expected to play at UCLA's game along with Joe Moorhead will help or cause to pull out a win.

That makes Oregon at its healthiest state since the beginning of the season.  It's unfortunate that Flowe is out for the year, he really needed that game time experience alongside Sewell to make that super-duo for next season when KT leaves.

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On 10/19/2021 at 9:24 AM, Joshua Whitted said:

Darren, I love the premise of this article, and what you write is true; we do have the talent to have a stifling defense.

 

The problem is, the defense unfortunately has been more than leaky ... it has been simply bad for most of the season. For all of the justifiable complaints about the offense, we actually rank far better offensively than we do defensively (51st in yards per game and 89th in yards allowed per game). I'm skeptical of the replicability of turnovers; I think they can be coached to a degree, but they're still a highly volatile metric. I'd like to see us simply give up less yards as a consistent means of success. 

 

Sewell is a force in the run game, but I'd like to see our interior defensive linemen pull their weight. I talk all the time about the talent we've accumulated, but the defensive interior is one area where we haven't recruited all that well, and it was a concern of mine heading into the season. I've long been begging for a pass rusher opposite Thibodeaux to step up, and surprisingly, that just might be DJ Johnson who has shown more promise than anyone else this season. I don't want to be too hard on the coaches here, because Bradyn Swinson and Trevon Ma'ae are still really young, so they might be next in line as far as pass rushers go.

 

Mykael Wright has been good, maybe even really good this season. And McKinley has been dominant for stretches this season. But each of their opposites have struggled, and a secondary really needs each member playing at an above-average level to get consistently good results. I liked seeing Bridges make plays on Friday, and hopefully he continues to get better, because he has real plus traits at the position.

 

I sound like a broken record, but I do think the future of this defense is going to be determined by how well DeRuyter can coach the players up. If he's going to play spot-drop zones, the linebackers have to be taught where to drop, and what routes to read, because too often they look lost in underneath coverage. Ideally, I'd love to see us line up and play a bunch of cover 1 with our athletes in the defensive backfield, but I don't know if that's the route DeRuyter wants to go. 

 

As with the whole team, this defense has the potential to be elite. Personnel wise, aside from the inside linebacker position opposite Sewell and on the defensive interior, we have NFL-caliber athletes. Can they be coached well enough to play like NFLers? That's the million dollar question.

 

Great take, Joshua. While I'm not expecting the Ducks to rise to Georgia's level, I just hope they can crank it up a notch to carry the team through the remaining, relatively soft, schedule. 

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Yes, to win any more games will take the defense playing stout and keeping the score close.

 

The problem now is the remaining teams we play, though weak, are the best in the Pac12. 

 

We may be 5-1, but that is against the weakest part of our schedule. We can easily go 3-3 this next half.

 

Our defense must improve dramatically if we want to keep winning. We are getting healthier, hopefully that will help.

 

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