Duck Defenders Have the Stage

Scottsdale -- Oregon Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti has been asked the same question everyday since Dec. 5th -- how will the Ducks stop Cam Newton?

When the Oregon Ducks were selected to play Auburn in the BCS Championship game on Dec. 5th, the immediate question for Oregon's head of defense was the obvious one, how will Oregon deal with Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner? Everyday Aliotti has patiently responded that the Ducks are not only concerned with Newton, but also the talented running back Michael Dyer, the corps of Auburn receivers and a good offensive scheme dreamed up by the Auburn coaching staff.

Oregon deploys a multiple look defense. Even though there is no designated nose-guard, the Ducks often line up with two defensive tackles and a defensive end in a three-point stance, while the second defensive end will crouch or stand at the line of scrimmage rather than go into a stance. Oregon's linebackers and secondary all run at least 4.5-second in the 40, giving the Ducks many opportunities for speedy defenders to spy on Newton and try to exploit his first step. The Ducks also rely on a scheme of showing a complex package of zone and man coverages in the secondary. Aliotti admits he really doesn't know how the game is going to evolve on the field but he is hoping that what ever happens his charges have done enough to put the Ducks in a position to win the game.

On Wednesday at the media conference room in Scottsdale, Aliotti was again asked the same question, over and over by many of the over 200 members working media corps. Aliotti indicated that his real goal was to put the Ducks into a position where Oregon would have at least "one more point" than Auburn at the end of the game. If that meant that the undersized Duck defenders make one more critical stop or one more critical take away or keep the Tigers from scoring a touchdown and forcing a field goal, so be it.

At one point Aliotti said he was happy that the Ducks are the underdog in this game, that it makes his team work harder.

"We are representing the Pac-10 and the University of Oregon," said Aliotti. "To this point we've done everything we can to put ourselves in a good position to compete and try to win the football game."

Clearly though, Aliotti is tiring of the constant questions about how the Ducks are seemly overshadowed by Newton and Auburn. The Ducks' defensive mentor is ready to play the game, but is happy to have some additional practice time to prepare for the game.

Aliotti also made it clear that the while both the Auburn and Oregon offense, the defenses must make a statement to determine the winner of the game.

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