For the defense to be ahead of the offense at this stage of the season is normal. Oregon's defense is not only ahead of its fresh, innovative offense, but it is showing it can be a threat from anywhere on the field.
To be fair, the defense isn't completely derailing Chip Kelly's spread offense. For example, on two occasions Jaison Williams beat Walter Thurmond III for huge passing scores. However, Thurmond and the rest of the defenders gave constant reminders of who is outplaying who at this point.
In 11-on-11 drills, Casey Matthews and Marvin Johnson each had interceptions from their linebacker and safety positions respectively. Andre Cresnshaw was chased down by Cole Linehan as the defensive tackle was in pursuit of Crenshaw and stopped him for no gain. Crenshaw was also dropped by middle linebacker Kenny Rowe on a thundering hit.
The reminders continued to hit the offense as the day progressed. Without linemen involved, the drills continued to be won by the defense. Walter Thurmond got a little revenge on Williams as he undercut a Cade Cooper pass for an interception, a beautiful read and reaction that even drew praise from Williams himself.
Then on the very next snap, Thurmond's running mate at the other cornerback position, Jarius Byrd , got yet another turnover. While matched up on the speedy wide out Jamere Holland, Byrd back-pedaled and adjusted to a high throw from Darron Thomas for the pick.
The entire practice was a showcase for just how dangerous this defense could be. With returning starters Patrick Chung, Will Tukuafu, Jerome Boyd and John Bacon all out with injuries, the defense still maintained the momentum for a large majority of the practice.
And the best part of it all? The defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs have all made big plays in spring practices. Today's turnovers came against all the different levels of the offensive depth chart. Surely the defense's dominance is partially to be expected in spring, but the fact that the defense shows no current chink in its armor is something truly special.