On a sunny morning in Eugene, Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum watched the first day of scrimmage in a black sweat jumpsuit and a pair of shades. He walked up to the media swarm, and put on a Hollywood-sized smile. “How is everybody today? Wonderful.”
In Pellum’s first full season as the defensive coordinator, the Ducks were able to reach the National Championship, not bad for your first year on the job. However, the 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the title game left some major question marks for the future of Oregon’s starting 11 on the defensive side. My colleague and fellow Fishduck.com writer Ashley Young and I met up with Pellum to discuss his initial reactions to the team’s first scrimmage of the spring.
Pellum seemed optimistic yet unsatisfied with the overall performance of the defense. “There was a lot of good, and a lot … not so good, but typical for the first scrimmage … Today wasn’t a ‘bad day,’ but as a coach, you strive for perfection.” Pellum has committed to focusing on the basic fundamentals for the entire defense for the first two weeks of practice. “Through the first two weeks, it was fundamentals: tackling, getting off blocks, all those things.”
The good: Pellum saw some big hits and some flashes of “being the team that they need to be.” Deforest Buckner has embraced the leadership role on the defensive line, in the midst of Arik Armstead going pro. Pellum has also noticed the potential of receiver-turned-corner Charles Nelson. “Charles is exciting. He still needs to learn a bit, but the things that he knows, it is just exciting to watch.”
The “not so good”: Pellum stated that the overall play was at times sloppy: missed tackles, miscommunication, and missed opportunities for big hits. When asked if any of the linebackers had stepped up during scrimmage, Pellum shrugged and said: “I didn’t really see anybody assert himself today … the group looked good up until today. Now they’re just inconsistent.”
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck