In recent history, Oregon Ducks football has been nationally recognized as having an exhilarating up-tempo offense, a reputation that has been intact since Dennis Dixon was under center. Drives lasting more than 90 seconds occurred as often as an eclipse.
In recent years, the offense has slowed down in terms of tempo, but still has the ability to put up 50-plus points. With the number of returners coming back to the Ducks for the 2019 season, the offense, again, has a lot of national hype surrounding it, and a lot of fans are anxious to see them in action.
Conversely, Oregon’s defense has gained notoriety for the amount of points they allow, their lack of discipline and coaching turnover. However, this season, the Oregon defense is going to put all of those perceptions behind them and become an exciting fixture to this football program, maybe even more so than the offense.
Per request in the comments section of a previous article of mine, this article is going to outline three defenders Ducks fans should be thinking about in 2019. To avoid repetition with my colleagues and my previous articles, this will not include Thomas Graham Jr, Troy Dye or Kayvon Thibodeaux. Still, each of those players will definitely make a positive impact on the defensive side of the football.
Watching hours and hours on end of New England Patriots football, the first name that comes to mind when watching Jordon Scott clog the middle is fellow Floridian Vince Wilfork. Scott’s presence on the field is immediately known, not just because of his 6-foot-1 inch, 329-pound stature, but because of the real estate he owns in the opponent’s backfield. Even if he doesn’t make the tackle in the backfield, he has taken time and space away from opposing quarterbacks and running backs since his freshman year in Eugene.
Over his two-year career as a Duck, Scott has made 63 total tackles and has three sacks. Scott plays the same style as Wilfork, having fewer sacks than defensive ends, but clogs the middle, pushes back the offense line and is always in on the tackle. He’s rarely out of the play.
Scott has had time to grow and mature as a player as well as gain experience. He is now a veteran leader on the defensive line and will play like it in 2019.
Nick Pickett is an underrated player on the Oregon defense who played in the shadow of Ugo Amadi the past two seasons. Pickett’s game was trending upward at the latter end of the season, and he solidified his play with his first career interception against Oregon State.
This kid is feisty, hard-working and a tackling machine who will have big shoes to fill with the departure of Amadi. Through two seasons in Eugene, he has a total of 81 tackles, which includes two straight games with eight tackles and a whopping nine tackles in an early November matchup at Utah. The most exciting aspect of this player, because of his performance at the end of last season, is his potential. The late play from Pickett is an example of things to come for the young safety.
This kind of play from someone in the secondary can set the entire tone of a game, and it provides a lot of support for his teammates on defense.
Jevon Holland is another fiery, emotional player who will be a catalyst on this year’s defense. Playing opposite the aforementioned Pickett, Holland is going to make this secondary a force to be reckoned with. Holland is only at the beginning stages of his college career (being only a sophomore in 2019), so we’ve only seen a small sample size from him, but maybe that small sample is all we need.
Last season, 2018, was his freshman year. More often than not, it’s evident from a fan’s standpoint which players have some growing and maturing to do, but Holland did not seem to play like a freshman. He made an impact from the very beginning and capped off his promising freshman year with 44 tackles and five interceptions.
Holland has a dangerous weapon this season that he didn’t have last season: experience. A season under his belt has allowed him to learn and grow as a player. Ducks fans should keep their eyes on this kid during the 2019 season, because if he competes the way he did last season, the Ducks’ secondary is in good hands.
There are certainly other players who could have been added to this list who will make an impact on the Ducks defense like Austin Faoliu and La’Mar Winston Jr.
Overall, for the first time in recent memory, there is something to be excited about on both sides of the ball. The days of allowing 40-plus points and forcing the offense to carry the load are officially over. Although only three players are listed, there is so much to be excited about on defense. All the offseason hype and preparation surrounding this defense will be challenged from the get-go with the week one matchup against Auburn at Jerry’s World.
I believe this defense, and these players, will relish the hype and the moment and come out with a strong performance, not only against Auburn, but all season long.
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
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