“Bend but don’t break defense” is the common phrase college football analysts use when describing the Ducks defense, and for good reason. The Ducks tend to allow opponents long drives, but when it comes to the red zone, good luck trying to break the plane against this team.
Last season Oregon ranked as high as number one in the nation in red zone defense and finished at number 10 despite finishing 44th in yards allowed per game.
But with two of the most highly touted corners in the nation in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrence Mitchell, should the Ducks get a more aggressive defensively? Teams like the New York Jets when they had Darrelle Revis and the LSU Tigers when they had Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid blitzed incessantly because they had a strong enough secondary to save them in case the blitz didn’t penetrate the line quick enough.
This probably wouldn’t be a wise strategy against USC and Marquis Lee and maybe even not against OSU and speedster Brandon Cooks. But against the rest of the Pac-12, more blitzes could create more turnover opportunities, more three and outs, and more time for the Ducks’ prolific offense to operate.
Considering the perennial speed on this Ducks team, they can finish better than 45th in the nation in sacking the quarterback. While the loss of Dion Jordan will hurt Oregon’s ability to rush the passer conventionally next season, to lessen the impact of the loss, more blitz schemes could be used. Fortunately, with the flexibility built into Aliotti’s Hybrid 3-4 (as described here), an option to get aggressive is available.
The Ducks defense may be difficult to break, but imagine the possibilities if they were also difficult to bend.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Cline.