A Pass Rush Emerges

This spring the defense had been forcing a lot of turnovers, but not getting their hands on the quarterback. Today saw pressure getting to the quarterback from various positions.

Getting a sack is not an easy task in a game situation, and it's even more difficult in a practice setting. Oregon, like other teams, have their signal callers wear red jerseys to signal they are not to be tackled. That being said, sacks in that kind of setting come from pushing down a quarterback or a grabbing a quarterback until the whistle blows. Oregon quarterbacks relied on some serious whistle blowing today from head coach Mike Bellotti.

Whether it was against the first or third string lineman or even a mixture, the defense got to the quarterback early and often. The first one came on the fourth play of an 11 on 11 session, when senior defensive tackle Cole Linehan worked his way through the heart of the line and wrapped up freshman Chris Harper. Junior Simi Toeaina also recorded a sack from his defensive tackle position.

Oregon quarterbacks did make some necessary adjustments, and Justin Roper made one of the more impressive moves to evade a pass rusher. With sack specialist Nick Reed closing in from his left side, Roper pulled the ball up and spun 270 degrees clockwise, leaving Reed and the pocket as he scrambled up the field.

The surprise of the secondary, Javes Lewis, also got in on the barrage of sacks. Lewis blitzed out of the secondary from the weak side, timing his approach perfectly. Freshman Darron Thomas never had the time to check his blindside as Lewis wrapped his arms around him and held on until the whistle blew.

Yet the best quarterback harassment came from converted former linebacker Terrell Turner. Turner recorded three sacks against various levels of the depth chart. Another impressive aspect of the redshirt freshman's performance was in the variety of the quarterbacks he sacked. He was able to put pressure on Justin Roper, who isn't exactly built for the spread offense. Turner was also able to get his hands on perhaps the best runner of all the quarterbacks, Chris Harper.

With the spring game closing in, it will be interesting how this storyline will continue to unfold. Will the defense continue to get to the quarterback? How will future arrival five-star defensive tackle Justin Thompson affect the pass rush? Who will be the starting defensive ends for the two teams in the spring game? These questions and others will keep things interesting in Coach Gray's front four.

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