…that of a vocal leader.
The opportunity is a challenge Deone Bucannon has relished and embraced. And it has been a challenge because although the defense has taken strides – both on the field with their play and on the sidelines with their attitude -- he believes there is a ton of work to be done.
"Sometimes when we get hit in the mouth, sometimes their faces drop," Bucannon said. "As a leader, you need to rise your team up. You need to understand that we're alright."
Bucannon said one of the signs that shows the Cougar D is growing every day -- a new playmaker seemingly breaks out on a week-to-week basis.
"I need to step up as a junior," Bucannon said. "I've been here for a while. The coaches can't do anymore than they already have. It's on us."
THE COUGAR D is young, yes, but Bucannon says the players need to move past that.
"I'm kinda tired of the same excuses," Bucannon said. "Young team and everything… we're a great team. We've got the talent. We can play with these guys and I'm very passionate about that."
‘Buck', as coaches and teammates call him, has always had a tendency to play physically -- ever since he was a true freshman he's helped set the tone with bone-jarring tackles. Bucannon said he's it will be different to play Stanford on Saturday as opposed to, say, Oregon. The Cardinal likes to play smash-mouth football, a topic of delight to the hard-hitting safety.
"Be prepared for a physical four quarters," Bucannon exclaimed. "With Stanford, you get to be in the mix each and every play laying helmet."
Although excited about the physicality a team like Stanford presents, Bucannon said the Cougs have to remain diligent at preventing the play-action pass. If the play action pass is not contained, the Cardinal could find themselves comfortably moving the ball all afternoon come Saturday.
"At the end of the day, they can pound the ball with Stepfan Taylor, or throw it to one of their six, eight tight ends," Bucannon said.
According to Bucannon, success on Saturday will come down to attitude. Going up against a team like Stanford, one that intends on wearing you down, means that maintaining a strong sense of confidence, arrogance even, is everything.
"More than anything, we have to get our mindset right," Bucannon said. "They're going to come at us with everything they've got. We've got to respond."
IT'S NOT ALL business, business, business for the playmaking safety though. Contrary to the common belief that Pac-12 athletes are on a rigorous diet and workout schedule, Bucannon uses game-day weekends to splurge a bit.
The culprit? Lewiston, Idaho. Specifically? Papa John's pizza.
"I go to my hotel and order Papa John's," Bucannon said. "It has to be Papa John's. I get a medium pizza to myself and eat it. Nothing too crazy."
Crazy? Maybe not.
Ambitious? Without question.