Love To Win and Lead in Tackles

Ra'Shon (Sonny) Harris is a big, soft-spoken man that has labored outside the spotlight on Oregon's defense over the last few years. Last week, had the Ducks beaten Boise State, it's likely that Harris would have been the Player of the Week in the conference, but it didn't happen so the 6-5, 300-pounder is content on doing what he can to help Oregon on Saturday against Washington State.

Harris was the Ducks' leading tackler last week with 11 (8 solos) which is the most any Oregon defensive tackle has recorded since the 2004 season when Haloti Ngata racked up eight (5 solos) against Arizona. How did Harris feel about the distinction of being the leading tackler?

"Happy but sad at the same time," admitted Harris. "Would have loved to have the win instead and the leading tackler, but you can't get everything you want so now we just have to focus on this week."

With humility like that it's not hard to see why Harris and his teammates are willing to work so hard but not worry about getting much attention. When talking to Harris it always seems to be the team that is mentioned first and foremost. Looking at last week statistics another interesting fact pops out. Headed into the season many feared that the weakness for the Ducks was the defensive line, especially the defensive tackles. However against Boise State, Harris was the leading tackler with defensive end Will Tukuafu (10 tackles) as second leading tackler. In fact the defensive front held Boise State to just 38 net yards of rushing.

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti was especially pleased with the performance of the defensive line, even if the linebackers and secondary had troubles of their own with the Boise State play-action. Bellotti thinks that with the emergence of Harris as a pass rusher the Ducks' front is becoming more potent.

"Sonny Harris has gotten significantly better this year because he's learned how to finish plays," said Bellotti. "Sonny is strong and agile and was in position a lot of times last to make those plays but didn't finish the play. A guy came through his gap and he would be moving the offensive lineman but wouldn't tackle the back. This year he's finishing plays, making tackles."

Defensive linemen in a lot of schemes are designed to occupy blockers and the scheme relies on linebackers to make tackles. When a defensive lineman makes those tackles then the defense become so much more efficient and this year Harris is doing just that for the Ducks.

This week the Ducks again want to make sure that Washington State can not run the ball and that will put all the more pressure on WSU's red shirt freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael. Lobbestael was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his performance against Portland State last week in which he threw 9-for-12, 149 yards and two touchdowns after coming in off the bench in a 48-9 win.

This week if things go right for Harris, he could get that distinction of being the leading tackler in a winning cause, but even it doesn't happen he work hard doing whatever he can to help his team.

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