Defense Offers Knockout Blow

EUGENE-A touchdown, a deficit, a response and a knockout. That was the order of events for the Oregon defense versus Tennessee.

EUGENE-A touchdown, a deficit, a response and a knockout. That was the order of events for the Oregon defense versus Tennessee.

A four-yard Jason Croom touchdown reception six minutes into the first quarter placed the Ducks in a new position, behind. That lasted all of 4 minutes, 26 seconds, before Oregon reclaimed the lead and rattled off 59 in a row.

"We were kind of worried at first, but we shook it off and we said we've got to start playing and be mentally stronger… and finish strong," said defensive lineman DeForrest Buckner.

The Oregon defense after the 80-yard Tennessee scoring drive? Outstanding.

"[They told us] to just do what we do," said defensive lineman Taylor Hart said of the coach's instructions following the deficit. "We did a great job… of dominating up front and plugging holes.

The Vols subsequent 10 possessions resulted in zero points. Moreover, they picked up six first downs, running just seven plays in Oregon territory before the fourth quarter.

"You can't give up explosion plays," said defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti. The Ducks allowed no plays of more than 14 yards outside of Josh Smith's 51 yard catch on the scoring drive. "If a team has to drive the ball on you, then you've got a chance to win. Especially with our offense.

Over that span, the Vols ran 43 plays for 152 yards. Approximately 3.5 yards per play. The Vols finally scored in the fourth quarter, after Oregon's starters had been removed from the game, on an Alden Hill eight-yard touchdown scamper.

"Selfishly I'd like to say 'Hey, let's snuff these guys out,' but those kids deserve to play and they got a chance to play," Aliotti said.

Three Ducks had more than five tackles, safeties Brian Jackson (with a team-best six) and Isaac Dixon and Hart, and five more had four.

Strangely, the Ducks recorded zero tackles for loss despite the dominant defensive line play.

The lone turnover of the game came on the second UT play from scrimmage when Hart knocked the ball from Rajion Neal's hands and Rodney Hardrick pounced on it.


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