3-4, 4-3?

During the off-season there has been a discussion among fans about whether Oregon has switched its defense from a base 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme. While Chip Kelly said during the Pac-10 Media Day that the Ducks have not made any switch in their defensive philosophy, he later said that a change was made during the 2009 season. Will the headman clarify during Oregon's Media Day on Aug. 9th?

We're guessing he won't but maybe what is important now is to look at the official roster and see who is listed at what position and let the coaching staff plan how they use the players in the upcoming season.

Three senior starters from the front line return this year to anchor the Duck defense. The roster lists Brandon Bair, 6-7, 272 and Zac Clark, 6-2, 270 as defensive tackles and the third returner Kenny Rowe, 6-3, 232, listed as defensive end. Some football wisdom would indicate that all three are a bit light for the positions, but when the 2009 statistics are reviewed some pretty impressive numbers are revealed.

The Ducks held opponents to 336.3 yards of total offense (4th in the conference) last year, 127.7 (5th in the conference) of that being rushing. Oregon ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in passing defense but perhaps the most important stat was that the green and yellow defense allowed only 21.2 points per game, ranking them fourth in the conference and coupled with the offense scoring at a clip of 36.1 ppg that resulted in a 10-3 record.

Rowe recorded 11.5 sacks last year and was the Rose Bowl Defensive Player of the Game. Rowe also notched 43 tackles (25 solos) and was just behind Bairs' 45 total tackles (21 solos including two sacks.) Clark had a total of 18 tackles (seven solos).

Overall the Oregon defense had 36 sacks for the year which is very good news as the Oregon offense only allowed 13 sacks.

There has been much speculation on who may be the other defensive end to start. Junior Terrell Turner, 6-3, 261 played in all 13 games last year and had 21 tackles (13 solos and three sacks). Senior Tyrell Irvin, 6-2, 231 also played in all games and had five solo tackles and made a memorable recovery in the endzone off a blocked punt against Washington. Junior Brandon Hanna, 6-2, 234 was converted to a defensive end during the spring workouts and last year as a linebacker appeared in five games on special teams and a tackle. Anthony Anderson, 6-4, 235 had great reviews on the scout squad last and will see time as an end this year. Maybe the most fascinating prospect to play defensive end is a player who was converted from the tight end position -- Dion Jordan (6-7, 230). Kelly has said that Jordan was "born to play defensive end" and rumors have indicated Jordan will "make a lot of money in the NFL" as a defensive end.

Oregon signed one defensive end in the 2010 recruiting class, Tony Washington, 6-4, 239.

The fall roster also lists junior Nick Musgrove, 6-1, 228 an invited walk on in 2009 and converted from linebacker to end this year. Musgrove is a versatile athlete from Eugene's Churchill Hi earning six letters, including three in lacrosse, two in swimming and one in football.

While Bair and Clark are listed as tackles, so is Taylor Hart, 6-6, 262. Hart was on the sideline last year wearing a red shirt, but was often mentioned by coaches for his work on the scout team. Another red shirt freshman tackle is Wade Keliikipi, 6-2, 280 who was slowed down last year due to a shoulder injury.

Oregon signed one high school recruit, Ricky Heimuli, 6-4, 309. Heimuli was a US Army All-American and was in town for summer workouts.

The official roster, which will be pared down to 105 names by Monday also, lists several players simply defensive linemen. Scholarship players include junior Isaac Remington, 6-6, 262, who saw action in the spring game and workouts. Also currently listed are walk-ons, freshmen Steve Adams, 6-5, 272 and Ryan Hagen, 6-3, 284.

The vagueness of describing what kind of scheme Oregon has may be a great subject for message board conversations that are dominated by personal opinion and conjecture, but really what is important is that last year Oregon held opponents to fewer points than the Oregon offense scored on 10 occasions. This year, when the official roster comes out again after fall camp starts there may be more defensive linemen listed as DLs and fewer defensive tackles and ends listed at DT or DE.


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