Defense Wins Championships?

Is this statement a little dated? Let’s be honest — when you watch the Oregon Ducks, what is the first thing you see? An up-tempo offense that gets the job done, or which uniform they will be wearing this week? The Ducks are peaking at just the right time this season thanks to the exceptional effort on all sides of the ball. I would assume that most opposing teams have a similar game plan: keep Marcus Mariota and the Ducks offense off the field. But that can only work if the opposing team’s offense can put points on the board. The Ducks defense has done an incredible job of stopping that tactic full force and giving the Ducks that 12-1 record they deserve.

Senior Safety Erick Dargan getting his sixth interception of the season.

Gary Breedlove

Senior Safety Erick Dargan getting his sixth interception of the season.

In his interview with Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone Jr., ESPN.com Pac-12 analyst Kyle Bonagura explained why the Ducks defense will be a real test for reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles. The full article can be found here.

“Ever since (the Cal game) practice is way more intense, everybody is way more focused,” Malone said. “We know that every day something is on the line. People counted us out, but we picked our heads up and we’re where we are now.”

Bonagura continued with his analysis on the matchup: “Where they’re at is the inaugural College Football Playoff, where a semifinal date with defending national champion Florida State and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston awaits at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

“If the defense hadn’t improved, the second-ranked Ducks still might be here. The offense is that good. However, in the five games since the win against Cal, the Ducks have turned into the most complete team — statistically — in the country.

The Ducks showing their relentless team defense.

Gary Breedlove

The Ducks showing their relentless team defense.

“During that span, only eight FBS teams — none of them named Alabama, Ohio State or Florida State — allowed fewer points than the Ducks (17 points per game). They led the nation in points margin (30.6) and yards margin (plus-227) per game and their defense ranked No. 26 overall (336 ypg).”

To answer my question, the Ducks haven’t gotten where they are based solely on their offensive skills. They are about to face the Seminoles due to the well-roundedness of the Ducks’ attack. Defense does win championships, but it has to be complemented by a reliable offense and consistent special teams. On every side of the ball — offense, defense and special teams — stands a dynamic Ducks player, each with the same goal: Win The Day.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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