Nelson Spruce is Pellum’s Top Concern

Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum is no stranger to preparing for top offensive weapons. Just this year he has readied his Ducks for the likes of Ty Montgomery, Kaelin Clay, Jeremy Langford — and the list goes on. With that said, few (if any) are scarier than Colorado’s WR Nelson Spruce.

Spruce’s long list of accomplishments is enough for an entire article, but to keep it short, here’s a summary of his season in five statistics.

1: Leads the nation with 99 receptions, an average of just under 10 per game.

2: Tied for fourth in the nation in touchdowns with 11.

3: Seventh in the nation with 1,091 receiving yards.

4: 43 receptions over the last five games, even while being double-teamed the majority of the time.

5: Responsible for just under 33% of his teams’ total receptions.

Coach Don Pellum has his work cut out for him trying to organize a scheme to defend against Spruce.

Kevin Cline

Pellum has his work cut out for him trying to organize a scheme to defend against Spruce.

So, although Colorado is winless in the Pac-12 thus far, now is not the time for the Ducks to let their guard down. Spruce leads this dangerous Colorado offense that nearly beat Cal, Oregon State and even UCLA. When I talked to Pellum at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex today in an interview for, he discussed how his defense would prepare for Colorado’s offense and a receiver of this caliber. He said, ”They’ve always done some really good things. They’re very physical, they’ve got some good skill players.”

When he mentioned Spruce specifically, he said, ”Spruce does a tremendous job of getting open. Whether it’s man or zone he finds ways to get open.” He went on to praise Spruce, saying, ”He’s very crafty; he understands leverage and he does a tremendous job of what we call finishing. If that ball’s around, he’s going to catch it.”

Finally, Pellum addressed the fact that this will be many players’ last game at Autzen. He said the most admirable trait about this year’s seniors/NFL-bound players was their development from February to now. “A lot of guys who weren’t called on to be leaders are now,” Pellum concluded.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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