Jordan Ingram interviewed Oregon Football defensive lineman Alex Balducci yesterday for FishDuck.com at the University of Oregon Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
It’s not often that linemen make the headlines, especially for the Oregon football team. With such a potent offense, the Ducks’ defense often gets overlooked. However, many fans got to know the impact players on that side of the ball; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Tony Washington, Arik Armstead, and Erick Dargan, to name a few from last season. But there is another lesser-known hero of the defense, and his name is Alex Balducci.
Balducci has been steadily improving since his arrival at Oregon from Central Catholic High School in Portland. In fact, he was one of only six defenders to start all 15 games last season, where his 621 snaps ranked second among defensive linemen.
Alex, a senior in 2015, is a versatile defender who can play multiple techniques — gap responsibilities, hand placement, etc. – in the middle of the defense, and even played at the defensive end position last season. With spring practices in full swing, Balducci spoke about what he is working on during camp.
“You know, probably be more versatile … be able to move around the line and stuff like that. Just be able to be more versatile and help my team out in any way possible.”
This mindset is paramount to Oregon’s success. With the defense on the field so often, it’s important for players to be able to play multiple positions and techniques. As an interior lineman, Balducci doesn’t fill-up the stat sheet, but his teammates and football fans alike know everything starts up front.
For the linemen, there has been a specific focus on improving on the inside of the line: “You just gotta work on the placement really, placement is key. If you get the right spot, it helps tremendously to be able to play blocks and shed blocks as well.”
Balducci is right. Placement on the interior can help defenders shed blocks and disrupt the offense’s flow before it gets started. Being able to master the proper techniques and placement is what makes a lineman great, but becoming a master of your craft usually takes time.
When Balducci was asked about players who have impressed him so far in camp, the senior had good things to say about true freshman stud, Canton Kaumatule and his development. “I think Canton is doing really well. He’s a big guy and he’s pretty physical. And for someone his age, he knows how to use his size. He’s definitely impressed me for sure.”
Balducci joins DeForest Buckner, Christian French, and Joe Walker as the senior leaders among the Oregon front seven. And when asked about being a leader, Balducci isn’t hesitant to take on the responsibility: “Oh, definitely, yeah. I’m trying to teach these young guys everything, just help them in any way I can to develop a lot of depth in that regard.”
Oregon fans could see one of the best defensive units the Ducks have had in awhile. And with unsung heroes and seniors such as Balducci leading the way, the young Ducks are in good hands.
Stay tuned to FishDuck.com for coverage of spring practice and all your Oregon Duck news.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck
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