Oregon Ducks Defense - The Essentials

Oregon Ducks Defense - The Essentials

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Oregon Ducks Defense - The Essentials

SpartansWire has taken a look at the most obvious and dangerous elements of the Oregon offense in anticipation of Michigan State’s Redbox Bowl battle with the Ducks on Monday.  Now, we take a look at the what makes the Ducks’ defense go and how the Spartan offense can match up.

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The Oregon Ducks went 8-4 this season and their future NFL star quarterback, Justin Herbert, led an offense that averaged 37.2 points per game.

It’s hard to lose a lot of games if you’re averaging 37.2 points per game.

So how did the Ducks lose four ball games?

The Ducks have skill, athleticism, and, perhaps above all else, size – and, more specifically, height – on defense.

Try Dye is a 6’4″, 200 pound inside linebacker and he can run from sideline to sideline like a safety.

Justin Hollins is a 6’5″, 242 pound outside linebacker that is a thumping speedster.

Jalen Jelks is a 6’6″, 245 pounder who plays both down on the line and as an outside linebacker and he’s somewhat comparable to both Julian Peterson and Shilique Calhoun.

Nick Pickett plays safety as a 6’1″, 196 pounder who has the tenacity to be around the football at all times.

This batch of defenders could be four of the five starters for the Ducks’ basketball squad and they’d out-rebound just about everyone.

A team averages 37.2 points per game, has humongous guys all over the place on defense and somehow comes up short in four ball games?

A 30-27 overtime loss to Rose Bowl-bound Washington is certainly forgivable.

A 34-20 loss to The Pirate and Washington State in Pullman is understandable – plenty of hopeful seasons to to Pullman to die these days.

But the 44-15 thrashing at the hands of Arizona and a 32-25 loss to Utah are both head-scratchers.

In the loss to Arizona, Oregon was held to 84 yards rushing and the Ducks allowed Arizona to run for 276 yards.

Arizona also threw for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns but none of the scores were long ones.

The Wildcats ran all over Oregon.

That’s the game there, folks.

And, to hammer the point home, Arizona held the ball for 36:09 compared to Oregon having the ball for 23:51.

That’s a huge difference and speaks to Mark Dantonio’s philosophy of possession football, whether you like it or not.

And Arizona carried the ball 51 times – that’s 11 more than Dantonio’s magic number of 40.

In Oregon’s loss to Utah, the Utes rushed for 232 yards on 47 carries.

Oregon, meanwhile, ran for 117 yards on 32 attempts.

Utah held on to the ball for 33:01 compared to 26:59 for the Ducks.

In the loss to the Utes, Utah’s freshman quarterback – the 5’11”, 195 pound Jason Shelley – was 18 for 31 for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Within these two Oregon losses are the roadmaps for a Spartan victory in Monday’s Redbox Bowl.

Can Michigan State sustain drives by grinding out yards and succeeding in 3rd down situations in order to keep the chains moving?

Is the Spartan offensive line finally healthy and capable of providing LJ Scott with some room to run?

Is Brian Lewerke healthy and, if so, will be finally revert back to the guy who confidently tucked and ran with the football when the opportunities arose in 2017?

If Utah’s freshman quarterback can throw for 262 yards against the Ducks, is it crazy to think that a healthy and confident Brian Lewerke can too?

Oregon’s defense is good – the statistics and personnel particulars below will show that.

But if Michigan State can hold on to the football, get 40 carries, and inch somewhere near 160 yards in rushing, the Spartans’ offense can be in position to score.

If Lewerke is healthy, can he make the throws in the redzone?

Remember – this Spartan offense hasn’t been at full strength all season.

Lewerke might be near 100%.

He might have a full stable of fast, dependable, experienced receivers who could complement LJ Scott and a running game in a way that Spartans fans haven’t seen all season.

The offensive line might be ready to finally be serviceable.

Michigan State won’t need to put on a fireworks show on offense to win this game since the Spartan defense is what it is.

Oregon’s opponents managed to average 27 points a game.

If Michigan State puts up anything more than 24 points, chances of a Spartan victory are very good.

PASSING DEFENSE

  • 19.6 of 34.3 for 247.4 yards per game.
  • 57% completion rate.
  • 2 touchdowns per game.

RUSHING DEFENSE

  • 37.9 carries for 145.7 yards per game.
  • 3.8 yards per carry.
  • 1.1 touchdowns per game.

SACKS

  • 41.5

INTERCEPTIONS

  • 16

OPPONENTS’ POINTS PER GAME

  • 27 – 62nd in the nation

KEY PERSONNEL

TROY DYE – Junior Inside Linebacker; 6’4″, 201 pounds

  • 101 total tackles
  • 58 solo
  • 43 assists
  • 5 tackles for loss
  • 1 interception
  • 5 pass breakups
  • 1 forced fumble

KAULANA APELU – Senior Insider Linebacker; 5’10”, 208 pounds

  • 58 total tackles
  • 29 solo
  • 29 assists
  • 5 tackles for loss
  • 2 sacks

JUSTIN HOLLINS – Senior Outside Linebacker; 6’5″, 242 pounds

  • 57 total tackles
  • 35 solo
  • 22 assists
  • 12 tackles for loss
  • 5 sacks
  • 1 interception
  • 4 forced fumbles

NICK PICKETT – Sophomore Safety; 6’1″, 196 pounds

  • 54 total tackles
  • 32 solo
  • 22 assists
  • 1 interception
  • 3 pass breakups
  • 4 forced fumbles

THOMAS GRAHAM – Sophomore Cornerback; 5’11’, 191 pounds

  • 53 total tackles
  • 44 solo
  • 9 assists
  • 4 tackles for loss
  • 3 interceptions
  • 16 pass breakups

JALEN JELKS – Senior D-Lineman/Outside Linebacker; 6’6″, 245 pounds

  • 53 total tackles
  • 28 solo
  • 25 assists
  • 7.5 tackles for loss
  • 3.5 sacks

 

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