Defense Smothers UCLA

The Oregon defense stood tall at the Rose Bowl on Saturday and took the pressure off a Duck offense that was mostly misfiring in the first half before awakening in the third quarter. This is the attacking style defense that Oregon fans have been longing for with players flying to the ball and a group of linebackers who are surely the best since the Gang Green years.

(PHOTO) Casey Matthews and Will Tukuafu were all over UCLA all day long. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

The Ducks set the tone in the first quarter with a fierce goal line stand, stopping the Bruins on four consecutive plays inside the two yard line resulting in no points. Chip Kelly had predicted a vastly improved defense during the spring, but with a perceived lack of depth on the defensive line followed by the loss of top defensive backs T.J. Ward, Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper to injuries, who could imagine a defense this dominating? After the game Nick Aliotti looked like a proud father and simply gushed about how his guys have stepped up and have bought into the system. On Saturday, the numbers said it all.

UCLA's longest pass completion of the day didn't come until late in the fourth quarter and only covered 16 yards. Their longest run was only 12 yards when quarterback Kevin Prince took off after a play broke down. The Bruins netted only 66 yards total on the ground and averaged two yards a carry. UCLA did manage to pass for a modest 145 yards but Talmadge Jackson stepped in front of one of those passes and took it to the house for a "pick six" early in the third quarter when the Bruins desperately needed momentum.

Duck fans should rally around this group because this isn't the first time they stuffed a talented team this season. The Oregon defense basically won the Utah game and held an explosive Cal offense to a measly three points.

Kelly has even said that he is comfortable gambling on more fourth down plays this season because the head man is confident that the defense will hold if the offense fails. These guys are good.

The legend of Gang Green seems so long ago and just maybe Nick Aliotti should start considering new nicknames for the 2009 bunch.

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