Adjectives Fail Defensive's Performance

The magnitude of Oregon's defensive effort is hard to communicate. Perhaps its best described as unprecedented. The Ducks (4-0, 1-0 in Pac-12) 49-0 shutout of Arizona (3-1, 0-1) was the first against a conference opponent since they blanked Stanford 35-0 in 2003.

Eugene-Ore.,- You might also call it resilient. The Wildcats entered the red zone six times, and came away with nothing to show for it. They chanced it on fourth down four occasions, and were turned away each time.

And frankly it was surprising, at least to some. Arizona entered the game third nationally in total offense and 11th in scoring offense. Counter that with an Oregon defense that had allowed an average of 24.3 points per game against three, frankly unremarkable opponents, and it's safe to say few saw this coming. The Wildcats finished the game with just 332 yards of total offense, almost half of the 605 they'd previously averaged.

But linebacker Michael Clay, who led the team with 13 tackles, said Saturday's dominating effort was definitive of how they want to be seen.

"That's what Oregon defense is all about. That's what we want to put our stamp on: that we play 60 minutes," he said.

And that play was necessary right from the start. Following a failed fourth down attempt by the Duck offense, the Wildcats reached the four yard-line before faltering and attempting a 21-yard field goal. That attempt failed on a botched hold by punter Kyle Dugandzic.

"We're definitely not going to let them score easily. We want to give them the best fight we can," Clay said of facing an opponent on a short field, a circumstance that occurred three times in the first half and a fourth in the second.

The Oregon turnovers accounted for three of those short fields, two off of fumbles and the third a second-half interception by Jonathan McKnight.

"Once the offense turns the ball over, we really want to go out there and not let them get anything," safety Avery Patterson said.

"It's tough situation, but we get to go out there and play some more snaps and see if we can keep them out [of the end zone]. God we certainly did," defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.

The defense matched those three turnovers with five of their own, four off interceptions by the much-hassled Matt Scott. Sophomore Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had two of those, while Kiko Alonso had his second in two weeks and Troy Hill the first of the season.

"I feel like once I make one big play then I feel like I'm able to make a lot of big plays and I thought that's how it was throughout the game," said Ekpre-Olomu, whose second pick went for six, like Hill's. He remained aggressive throughout, breaking up three passes to go along with his two interceptions.

It was play like Ekpre-Olomu's that allowed for the staunch defensive effort.

"I guess it was time to make a little bit of history," safety Brian Jackson said. "It's our job to make that score on the other end as low as possible and today we made it as low as possible."

And for Aliotti, that accomplishment wouldn't be possible without a few normally unrecognized individuals.

"Say something nice about my assistant coaches. Say something nice about [Jerry] Azzinaro, John Neal, Don Pellum. Actually use their names."

Done. Done Done.


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