Alex Balducci has played in 32 games as a Duck appearing first as a true freshman against California and made his first start the same year against Stanford. Now he is an elder statesman for the defense and when you talk to him, it is easy to see he has a high opinion of this year’s squad.
Following scrimmage on Thursday, Balducci expressed his enthusiasm in what he saw.
“We had a lot of young guys flying around making plays,” said Balducci of the scrimmage. It was really encouraging.”’
Balducci is the starter at nose tackle and will bear a lot of the burden of holding the defensive front together this season in what appears to be a much improved Oregon defense. He is no stranger to the starting position as he played in all 15 games last season. He recorded 621 snaps last year, ranking him second linemen including 92 plays in the regular season game against Arizona.
For Balducci though, last year was then and this is now.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year,” accessed Balducci of the Duck defense. “Last year we came into our own, but this year we are ahead of the curve.”
Since fans and media are not allowed into Oregon practice, it’s always a good idea to ask someone who has a firsthand look at what’s going on. So the question to Balducci is this, from a defender’s point of view how is the Oregon offense doing?
“I think the offense has really picked it up,” observed Balducci. “At the start of fall camp they (offense) were here and there, but they have become more consistent. Guys like Matt Hegarty has done well. He has come in and learned everything. Tyler Johnstone has been a great leader with him (Hegarty) as well.”
What is noticeable this season is how much size he has put on. He weighs in at 315 pound and standing 6-4, he is a mountain of a man, and there isn’t an ounce of fat on him.
“Coach Rad (Jim Radcliffe) has implementing us to work harder,” Balducci said of the training staff. “All the trainers have us eating right”
Balducci is on course to graduate with a degree in General Social Science, and for his future, he is thinking about the NFL.
“We’ll see what happens,” admitted Balducci to the possibility of turning pro. “We’ll see, definitely.”
Oregon opens the season on Sept. 5, against Eastern Washington with kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. at Autzen Stadium. The game will be carried live on the Pac-12 Networks.