Oregon Defensive Preview

Oregon may be the fastest defensive team Arizona has seen all season. Read on to see why that is, the keys to scoring on it, and more.

Oregon's defense is loaded with talent, especially in the secondary, but as has been the case over the years, the undersized front seven is susceptible to the power run game.

Unfortunately for Arizona, there is not much of that power running game.

Defensive end Tony Washington is the premier player on the Ducks' line. He specializes in getting after the quarterback, as shown by his 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

The other end, 6-foot-7, 286-pound DeForest Buckner, does not put up major numbers, but is generally consistent.

Tackles Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi have played well for the majority of the season, and Hart, in particular, has forced a handful of turnovers.

The 6-foot-6, 287-pound tackle has forced three fumbles, broken up two passes, and has 47 total tackles.

The other defensive tackle is 6-foot-3, 299-pound senior Wade Keliikipi. He may not have numbers, but Oregon credits him with having the ability to free up other tacklers.

Moving to linebacker, the future is very bright for 6-foot-1, 231-pound middle back Rodney Hardrick. Although he only has 49 tackles on the season, he has been a forced against the pass while recovering 3 fumbles.

WLB Derrick Malone has been a tackling demon, impressive considering his 212-pound frame. The junior is great in the open field and his 85 tackles is 25 more than the next guy.

SLB Boseko Lokombo is a physical freak that will be used a lot off the edge, as shown by his three sacks and six tackles for loss. It will be important for Denker to keep an eye on Lokombu coming in different blitz packages.

The Oregon secondary is very experienced and one of the strengths of the team. The Ducks roll out two NFL caliber corners and both specialize in getting up and blanketing smaller receivers.

Free safety Avery Patterson has been a steady force on the back end of the defense. Fluid enough to cover and strong enough to help out in run support, Patterson has steadily improved over the past few seasons.

Strong safety Brian Jackson is not much of a play maker, but he gets the job done and the Ducks certainly are not complaining.

Players to Watch:

#14, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu- Ekpre-Olomu has long been considered one of the best corners in the country and he hasn't disappointed this season. He figures to match up well with any of the Cats undersized wide receivers, especially with his physicality.

#27, CB Terrance Mitchell- While Ekpre-Olomu receives most the attention, Mitchell is a play maker in his own right. He is seemingly always around the ball as his 5 interceptions and 11 pass deflections suggest.

#91, DE Tony Washington- Washington is the Ducks' best pass rusher. Despite facing double teams on occasion, Washington has been a steady presence in opponent's backfields.

Keys to the game:

Control the Line: More so than any other game the Cats play, it is imperative they run the ball. Oregon's secondary is loaded with talent and if Denker is forced to throw early, things could get ugly.

Get a Push Up Front: While the Ducks defense has gotten better over the years, the Stanford game proved Oregon will always struggle with a physical running game. Arizona may like to spread things out, but the more physical the offensive line can get, the better.

Take a Few Shots Deep: Arizona figures to try and run the ball as much as possible, making it likely that Oregon will stuff the box and rely on their corners to eliminate the Wildcat receivers. It will be up to speedsters Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant to make a play at some point.

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