Analysis: DeForest Buckner Was One Ferocious Defensive End

Jay MacPherson Analysis

(My friends, we have a “blast-from-the-past” as we have an unpublished article about star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from 2015. He has gone on to a career with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, but I thought it would be fun to see some highlights of him while with the Ducks during the long off-season. Enjoy!)  Charles Fischer

The Duck defense still aligns in a 3-4 set this season, as they have for years, although this year, more plays involve a four-man rush. This change has improved the effectiveness of the defense overall by playing to the strengths of our D linemen.

As many of you have heard or read, DeForest Buckner of Waianae, Hawaii will likely become a high NFL draft pick. Why? Quite simply, Buckner (No. 44) is a ferocious and talented defensive end. He has a high motor, great speed and uses proper technique. Oh, and he is smart and strong.

Let’s look at some examples. In the video below, it’s first and 10 on the Colorado 10-yard line in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. The Ducks just punted the ball, ending their first, scoreless drive against this season’s increasingly formidable Buffaloes. The oft-maligned Duck D takes the field, and Buckner is being blocked by the Colorado left tackle No. 71 Sam Kronshage. Well, at least blocked for a moment.

The Buffs’ QB Sefo Liufau manages to get the ball out at the last possible moment, and then gets plowed by Buckner. The Buffaloes assign one man to Buckner, though I bet the O line signals got crossed before the snap. Three linemen choose to block nose tackle (NT) Alex Balducci, and their QB pays the price. Way to go, Alex!

ESPN graciously provides the Duck faithful with a replay below.

I don’t know if there is a name for the move Buckner uses above. It looks part bull rush, part chop technique. Buckner gets his hands up near the shoulders and turns Kronshage outside. Once this happens, Buckner has an open lane to Sefo. (That hit had to hurt!) Tui Talia also makes a good move on the right tackle.

A few minutes later, Buckner makes a chop move to go outside of the left guard. While he doesn’t get the credit for the sack, his pressure is what flushes Sefo toward No. 96 Christian French, and he slips trying to evade the second mighty Duck. (Watch the up-close replay above, as well.)

Whether pass rush or plain run defense, Buckner is a remarkable force.

With Colorado threatening in the red zone on second down (shown above), Buckner reads the play and the pulling left guard to make a stellar tackle for loss. I was unable to tell exactly what happened until I went through the replay frame by frame. At first, it looks like Buckner puts a swim move on the guard by the way he moves his arms. However, in the replay (second half of video), you can see the guard pulling and the center’s attempts to block Buckner. Buckner’s speed gets him into the backfield, past the hapless center. He then zeroes in on the ball carrier and wraps him up.

So what about when Buckner is double teamed? Opposing coaches have lauded Buckner’s skills, acumen and abilities. Why don’t they double team him? They do.

Buckner is double teamed in the video above. At some point during the play, the left guard apparently feels the center has a handle on Buckner and leaves to help the left tackle block Eddie Heard, a linebacker. Leaving Buckner one-on-one proves to be a mistake, resulting in a sack. And yes, Buckner was helped on this sack by the effective bull rush of Austin Maloata.

While many of the clips above display the roles of other teammates in Buckner’s success, the reverse is clearly true, as well. In fact, it is possible that many of their successes result from blockers focusing on Buckner. All in all, Buckner is a mighty Duck, and it is a pleasure to watch him play.

“Oh how we love to learn about our Beloved Ducks!”

Jay MacPherson
Eugene, Oregon                                                                                                                                                                          Top Photo by Gary Breedlove


Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.


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