VIDEO: Ulbrich Talks UO Matchup

Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich talks about UCLA's speed at linebacker as it matches up with Oregon's offense and also talks about the play of Isaac Savaiinaea last week...

Jeff Ulbrich on linebackers matching up against Oregon's speed:

On the biggest challenge to stopping an offense like Oregon's:
A lot of challenges. You have to stop the run. I think that's what gets lost in a lot of this. People think they're this spread team that likes to chuck it every play, get their wide receivers down field. They're a run first team. They really are. You better be devoted to stopping their run. You better have a guy for their dive. You better have a guy for their quarterback. You better have a guy for their pitch. Every single time. The big plays come off the run more than the passing game. Somebody that busts, so you have to play sound. You have to play gap sound. You have to play option sound, which is two different things. And when you do that, you can put it in his hands, and force him to throw it. Then you have to stay in front of these receivers. You have to gang tackle. You can't get them behind you. You have to stay home at all times. If you stop the run and stay in the pass game, and contain the quarterback as much as you can, then we've got a really good chance.

On facing the zone read's earlier in the year and it preparing them:
Absolutely. I think that we're built in the right way. The guys that we had defending the zone read are typically our linebackers. And our linebackers have really good speed to keep up with the backs that they have and the quarterback that they have. I wouldn't pick another four linebackers. I really wouldn't.

On if this is the biggest test for the linebackers:
I don't know that. I would say to this point, probably. But they're excited about it. They really are. That's sort of the mentality of this group. They're not out here stuttering and pissing down their leg. They're ready and they love it. They want to be the best and they wanted to be tested by the best.

On Byron Marshall:
He's a guy that when the passing game is not working, they can lean on him. He's got the ability to run between the tackles, he's got great speed to the perimeters, he's got good vision, he's got hands out of the backfield. He's a very good running back, maybe the best we've faced so far.

On if that backfield versatility is what makes Oregon so dangerous:
When you've got multiple weapons and each guy kind of has his own special attribute, it makes it very difficult for a defense.

On Isaac Savaiinaea replacing Eric Kendricks against Stanford:
He did good. He looked like a freshman at times. But he did good. He's got a long way to go, but I think that's true for all true freshman. He played pretty physical, he tackled well, he took command of the defense. For a mike linebacker, one of the most important attributes that you have to have, and he did that. Plus his demeanor on the sidelines, coming off the field, was exceptional. A lot of times, you throw in a freshman, you throw anyone in that hasn't started, that isn't in the rhythm of the game, and it can be a little bit overwhelming and he was not overwhelmed at all. At least from the exterior. He was calm, he was poised, and that was good to see. He was playing a little high, but we can get that out of him. I told him when I first got here, EK had all those habits. It took till like the third or fourth game until he cleaned up his footwork, put his eyes in a better place, understanding the defense, understanding how to identify offensive formations. He's right on course with where I think he needs to be back.

On getting Eric Kendricks back:
Obviously very excited. This is a week that you'd like to have a guy like that, with exceptional speed. He's our mike linebacker and our defense looks to him. So we're very excited. He's a tough kid.

On if game reps help break the bad high school habits:
Everything is going to help break them. Everything. Obviously what we do in practice creates some muscle memory and then it carries over into the game. I think early in anybody's maturation process in this game, you can start to develop those habits in practice and then game time, when it's hot and live bullets, you kind of revert to what you know. And that's what he's known, for a long time, going back to high school and pop warner, and his entire football career. So we're breaking some muscle memory and some really old habits. Sometimes the game is a really good identifier in where he's at with those habits. More than anything, it was great to see for him in a game, why don't I carry over what I do in practice, which helps us with him, devote a little more time. Attention to detail out on the practice field.

On who DeAnthony Thomas reminds him of:
He's got some Devin Hester in him. And I'm thinking more from a return standpoint, but he plays running back like a returner sometimes. He's very good. The beauty of Devin is he's good at setting his blockers up. And keeping things alive. The beauty of Devin and the beauty of No. 6 is the play is always alive. And the blockers know that. And when you have belief as a blocker that your guy is always alive, you block harder, you block longer, you finish. It's a thing where you've got belief and it's going to help that guy back there and they believe in him.

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