Most people in the know understand that the defense is what will make the difference for this team this year. The old saying in sports is that offense scores points but defense wins championships will almost certainly be true about this team. If the defense performs well this team may even surpass my lofty expectations and after watching practices this past week I believe it could happen.
It seems whenever someone asks me about this defense they ask about the defensive tackles linebackers and ends. I wonder why no one asks about what is the most important part of this defense – the secondary. Oregon's corners set the tone for this defense because of their ability to cover so well one on one. Going into this fall I was optimistic but cauious about this unit. We all know about Rashad Bauman but what about the rest. Starter Steve Smith returns and has really elevated his game. He maybe as good a corner as Bauman at this point and that is saying a lot. Smith looks faster and surer of himself this year. Because of his size and physical play he is a fine compliment to Bauman on the other side.
This fall has also seen the emergence of A.K. Keyes. As some may recall Keyes was hurt most of spring but he is back with vengeance now. Most observers this Fall would certainly agree that Keyes has done an outstanding job going up against the likes of Keenan Howry, Jason Willis, Paris Warren, Keith Allen, and others everyday. Not only is Keyes one of the fastest Ducks but also now is truly becoming one of the best Ducks. Yet the good news doesn't stop there. Freshman Steve Moore, and Charles Favroth have also played extremely well. I don't think this coaching staff would have any reservations about putting any of these reserves on the field if and when they need to.
From my vantage point these corners have really stepped up their play. They have helped raise the overall performance of this defensive unit this fall, and in doing so have made this team be even better that I had expected.
Saturday's scrimmage is closed.