The defensive line is one aspect of football Duck fans don’t really discuss that heavily throughout the off-season, pre-season or even during the season. Going into this season, Oregon is without the services of DE Arik Armstead who was a behemoth on the line and would make great plays when the team needed him.
The addition of incoming freshman DE Canton Kaumatule is an individual who will most likely be the star of the show along the line going into the future. However, a player that most Oregon fans are not familiar with is true sophomore DL Austin Maloata who plans to serve a big role next year.
This morning, I had the opportunity to chat with Maloata at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex and discuss how spring practices are going for him.
The first question Maloata was asked centered on how he’s holding up during spring practices and how he feels he’s performing. Without hesitation, Maloata was honest and mentioned how “it’s pretty tough, but everybody is out there working hard and I feel like I’m getting better as a player.”
When he meant “tough,” Maloata was referring to the amount of running Oregon football players have to go through during spring ball. “Honestly, I can’t answer that question because it’s up for the coaches to decide how I’m performing,” Maloata responded when talking about his own personal experience during spring practices. He was not too fond of boasting about himself and said, “I don’t like to pump myself up and would rather just play and talk football.”
Secondly, he discussed his progress with understanding the playbook and the speed of how Oregon plays football. “I’m definitely getting the hang of it more. Last year, I was really at a loss regarding the plays we ran on defense. But, coming into spring ball, I’ve learned a lot more technique, along with plays.”
A player who has similar size to former Duck OL Hamani Stevens, Maloata is truly a big guy. Unfortunately, he didn’t play much last season due to the tough adjustment he endured from his high school system to Oregon’s scheme.
Maloata reflected on spring practices from a personal standpoint. “I feel like once you move to a new level, you are pretty much given more responsibility. So, spring this year has been more of a life lesson, if anything.” He has been taking most of his reps at nose guard this spring and is eager to possibly earn a starting role along the defensive line going into next season.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline