Downsized Defense Ready To Break Out In 2015

Buckner and the defense are ready to break out in 2015

Spring practices are due to start at the end of the month and second year defensive coordinator Don Pellum can’t wait to get to work with his defense. Despite the loss of some major talent to the NFL draft Pellum sees veterans in the locker room ready to pick up where they left off last season. According to Chantel Jennings of the downsizing on defense is giving Pellum reason to believe that the Ducks can be even better than last year.

Granted last year was a roller coaster on defense for the Ducks, with ups and downs for most of the regular season before bringing the hammer down in their rematch against Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship and the Seminoles in the Rose Bowl. The struggles returned in the National Championship game against Ohio State but now Pellum believes he has the answer to the Ducks defensive dilemma.

With the creation of very specific defensive packages, highlighting the talent of specific players, Pellum will be limiting the options of the defense in order to address specific play-styles, he told Jennings that “last year we might have had three or four different things we could do. [This year] we are going to dial it down to one or two and be really really good at them.” A Ducks defense that has improved from the strong play we saw at the end of the season is a cause to worry for the rest of the country and a cause for celebration here in Duck country.

The talented receiver may move to the defense in 2015

Kevin Cline

The talented receiver may move to the defense in 2015

While Pellum is faced with replacing players such as All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and the prolific pass rusher Arik Armstead he will have plenty of returning players that saw work last year in light of injuries to the defense. Chris Seisay a redshirt sophomore got some playing time at the end of the season when Ekpre-Olomu got injured, Deforest Buckner will be back on the line chasing down quarterbacks and there have been rumors that Charles Nelson could see some time on defense, contributing his propensity for hard hitting we have seen on special teams. In addition to the returning players, the Ducks successfully recruited impressive talent to bolster the defense. A high school friend of Buckner, Canton Kaumatule is a five star recruit that enrolled at Oregon early in order to be ready for spring practices. The 6′ 7″ defensive lineman should be an immediate asset and a new partner for Bucker in lieu of Armstead.

Head Coach Mark Helfrich holds to the belief that the second time you do something, you should do it better. That idea has resonated with Pellum, he believes that his second year as defensive coordinator is going to be a successful one, running new schemes with returning players. We will soon see if the downsize has been a detriment or a catalyst for a rejuvenated system.

Top Photo by Craig Strobeck

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Max Thornberry

Max Thornberry

My name is Max Thornberry, and I am a sophomore at the University of Oregon studying journalism. I am from Ventura, CA but fell in love with Oregon when I visited last year and came to the Oregon vs. Cal game. I love sports and my hobbies mainly include fantasy baseball and football as well as playing sports video games. Growing up watching sports center and espn news I always wondered what I had to do in order to get a job where I got to talk sports every day, so when I saw an opportunity to intern for a sports news website ( I couldn't wait to get involved.

  • Danny Shearer

    Wow, good things to hear from Pellum to me he didn’t do a good job last season. The defense maybe played well half the season, maybe. I know he is new as a DC but Oregon is a top program that needs and deserves a top DC to win the NC. To me he is on or should be on the hot seat. I am rooting for him!!!!! But if the defense plays like it did in 2014 can Coach Helfrich make the hard decision??? Hopefully everything works out!!!

    • VegasNed

      All in all, the defense played well in 2014. The defense allowed the second fewest points per game in the pac12 (according to The defense ahead of Oregon has the advantage of playing with a slow offense team,…that gap between the two should closer than what the stats say. Similar to the championship game against Auburn, the defense held their end of the bargain against Ohio st,…allowing the same amount of yards/pts to Ohio St that Alabama’s D allowed, playing what was essentially a home game for them in the sugar bowl. In addition, I believe there was a rumor out there that a SEC team was looking to pry Pellum away from Oregon. All signs point to Oregon having a good defense and a coordinator in demand (if the rumor is true).


    Well we seen what Helfrich and Frost did in their 2nd year and it was pretty good! Oregon needs to start upgrading the whole defense and start becoming a TOP 20 Defense to go with this offense. If TCU MSU and others then the Ducks D should be a TOP 1 because we have more talent on that side than some of those other program’s. That’s really funny Max the 1 about that PROLIFIC PASS rusher in Armstead as in I laughed so hard my Pepsi came through my Nose, OUCH!