The final road block in the Ducks’ path to the playoffs will be their biggest test. Oregon will look to avenge its only loss of the season Friday night in Levi’s Stadium when the Ducks will take on Arizona for the Pac-12 Championship. I listened to Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum discuss the upcoming rematch against Arizona today after practice at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, on behalf of FishDuck.com.
“We’ve learned that they’re the same team they’ve been,” Pellum said of the Wildcats. “They’re very physical up front, and they have a very physical running attack. They do a nice job in the passing game, and they put their quarterback in a position to be successful. Their overall operation is really solid.”
Arizona’s running attack was the root of its success last time the Wildcats faced the Ducks. Freshman standout Nick Wilson and senior Terris Jones-Grigsby combined for 204 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. For Oregon to be successful, Pellum knows the defense will have to stop the run.
Members of Oregon’s defense have talked about how they’ve practiced in a different way since the Arizona loss, and Coach Pellum elaborated on that. “We actually started practicing different right after the Washington State game. We looked at what we were doing, and came up with some solutions to what we thought were problems.”
Pellum also praised defensive players Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Joe Walker, Erick Dargan and Troy Hill for their leadership, positive attitudes and contributions to the team’s progress throughout the season. A successful rematch against Arizona will be in no small part due to the tremendous growth of the Ducks’ defense. Pellum believes it is, as a whole, in much better shape today than earlier in the year.
“We’ve come a long way,” Pellum said. “It’s been a long journey. There were some times where it didn’t look good where obviously there was a lot of scrutiny. But the kids went inwardly and just kept fighting, and all the sudden they put their heads up in a position to go out and play another game.”
The Wildcats have been a thorn in the Ducks’ side as of late. Over the last two seasons, Oregon has gone 22-3. Two of those three losses have come at the hands of Arizona. Oregon’s defense will need to be at its absolute best this Friday in Levi’s Stadium.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline