FishDuck.com sports reporter Ashley Young was at the Ducks spring practice Friday afternoon and caught up with Don Pellum.
With spring practices well underway the 2015 Ducks should be coming together as a well-knit unit. Of course, it is hard to determine anything at this point in the season, but Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum is happy with where his revamped defense is, albeit with some improvements to make. “[There’s been] a lot of good” Pellum explained “and a lot of not so good.”
While Pellum expects to see improvements in some “sloppy” play including missed tackles and miscommunication he was happy to see big hits and noted “there were some good plays where we looked like the team we need to look like.”
After losing several veterans on defense, Pellum is thankful for the presence of DeForest Buckner. Pellum hopes to see his development as a leader last year transition into 2015. “If [Buckner] will do what he did last year, which is to increase his leadership role and continue to make the plays he’s supposed to make, that’s all we can ask of him.”
Much is expected of the big senior and he looks primed to take on that role. After 13 tackles for loss and a total of 81 on the season last year, Buckner is entrenched as a star and model for the rest of the defense to follow.
The Ducks defense was plagued by poor tackling for much of last season and coach Pellum is resolved to remedy the issue, “Our approach this spring was to limit what we put in and work on technique and fundamentals,” he said, “for the entire defense.” Pellum may not have been thrilled with the performance of his defense on Friday, but he said “As a coach you’re always looking for perfection. With the standard set, we can be assured that the defense will be working to meet it.”
With so many new faces vying for starting roles this season, there has been talk that we could see a new system at work. However, Pellum quickly shot down any ideas about the Ducks using a 3-4 scheme in 2015. “[As a] staff we haven’t had any discussions of switching to a 4-3, we are gonna continue to be a 3-4 operation.” Pellum did let us in on the fact that blitz packages are going to look different but has no intention about changing the overall scheme.
The Ducks have plenty to work on in order to be prepared for their season opener against Eastern Washington on September 5 in Autzen Stadium – which gives coach Pellum and his defense a tight time table for them to achieve their goals. With so many unknowns, one thing can be made certain, the Duck defense is set to make a statement in 2015.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline