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Duck’s Defense is Freaking People Out

Friday, September 05, 2014

 

Photo Credit:John Martinez Pavliga, cc

 South Dakota ran 39 times for 172 yards last weekend against Oregon, including 120 in the first half.

Sure, the Ducks trounced the Coyotes, 62-13, but South Dakota, a FCS program whose starting offensive line is an average weight of 302 pounds, ripped off 4.4 yards per carry against UO.

Michigan State is coming to Eugene this week.

People are freaking out.

The temptation here is to tell everyone concerned about Oregon’s defense to relax - but I won’t. I’ll let Nick Aliotti handle that.

About two weeks ago, the former Ducks defensive coordinator anticipated some early uneasiness, not because of the transition from Aliotti to Don Pellum but because of the lack of depth along the defensive line. 

“Is there enough depth to play guys the way we like to substitute guys and play them? I think they’ll continue to shuffle guys in because of how the game is played,” Aliotti said. “There are some backups that if they don’t go wholesale and just put in a few guys at a time, they’re still going to be stout.”

Against South Dakota, the standbys - Arik Armstead, Alex Balducci and DeForest Buckner - were disruptive, combining for 14 tackles, including three for losses, and a sack (Balducci). But because some inexperienced Ducks saw significant time beginning in the first half, there was a drop-off. 

Something has to give - if you want to build defensive line depth, the inexperienced players must play. But don’t forget - some of those players, such as Austin Maloata and Henry Mondeaux, were in high school this time a year ago. 

Last week was an entirely different level, as this week will be. 

Listening to Aliotti, though, don’t be surprised if the defensive line rotations aren’t nearly as robust. Expect to see a little more of Armstead, Balducci and Buckner than ever before, which is a good thing. 

But feel free to continue freaking out.

 

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