What you MUST KNOW about the Tim DeRuyter Defense

Coach Eric Boles Analysis

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The Oregon Ducks have hired Coach Tim DeRuyter to fill their vacant defensive coordinator position. Coach DeRuyter has spent the last four seasons as DC for the California Golden Bears, where his defensive units have given the rest of the Pac-12 headaches. He took over what was the 127th nationally ranked scoring defense the year before he arrived in Berkeley, and by the 2018 season had them at 22nd. Before heading to Cal, he was the head coach for the Fresno State Bulldogs, where he won two conference titles, and prior to that he was the DC for the Texas A&M Aggies.

There are rumblings that Coach DeRuyter (pronounced “DeRooter”) is coming to Oregon to install a 4-3 defense. Though he has experience with the scheme, he has run a 3-4 defense for more than a decade. While it is completely possible he installs a 4-3 in Eugene, my gut tells me that he sticks with the 3-4. Out of the nearly two dozen candidates that had reportedly drawn interest from Coach Mario Cristobal, the majority of them were odd front guys. It seems like a stretch for Oregon to suddenly go with an even front, when an odd front would lean more towards Oregon’s strength.


Tim DeRuyter has been a head coach, knows the West Coast for recruiting and has prepared game plans against every Pac-12 opponent.

Coach DeRuyter is known for his defensive squads being able to disguise their coverages, putting tremendous pressure on the opposing quarterback. He’s is able to don a multitude of disguises out of just a few different alignments and personnel packages. DeRuyter’s scheme is one that has produced a number of superb edge rushers, which should have Kayvon Thibodeaux licking his chops.


3-4 Alignment

The first alignment that Coach DeRuyter has used is a base 3-4 (above). As its title indicates, this alignment consists of three defensive linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs. Though it’s a look with only three down linemen (linemen with a hand on the ground), it is actually more of a five-man front because the outside linebackers are also on the line. One of these OLB spots is where I expect Thibodeaux to play this coming season, and because the OLBs can either rush or drop off into coverage, the offense never really knows who’s coming and who’s going.


3-3-5 Even Alignment

The second alignment that I’ve seen Coach DeRuyter use should look really familiar to Oregon fans, as it has been the Ducks’ base defense for the last two years. Above is an example of Cal using the 3-3-5 (Even) alignment against the Stanford Cardinal. As you know, this look has three DL with a hand on the ground, three LBs (one standing at the LOS) and five DBs on the field. As the word “even” suggests, this is an alignment with four defenders on the line of scrimmage.

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DeRuyter’s 3-3-5 is a formation that can utilize the past experience with the 4-3 defense that Coach DeRuyter has learned over the years. You would think that the even front would make it more predictable , but with Coach DeRuyter’s attacking style, that is anything but the case.


2-4-5 Alignment

The last defensive formation that I want to touch on is the 2-4-5 (above). This one should also look familiar to Duck fans: it was Coach Jim Leavitt’s “Nickel” alignment of choice. This one has two DL’s with a hand on the ground, four LB’s (two standing up at the LOS) and five DB’s. The player usually taken off the field is the nose tackle, who is being replaced by the extra DB. This is the case because the NT is usually your big gap eater for run defense, while the 2-4-5 is used to get more speed and pass-rushing ability onto the field to better defend against the pass.

Coach Tim DeRuyter’s ability to disguise coverages and blitzes, plus his aggressive style of play-calling, is going to make Oregon a very difficult team to compete against. His defensive prowess combined with the defensive talent that Oregon is building could quickly become a nightmare for the rest of the Pac-12.

Coach Eric Boles
Newark, Ohio
Top Photo Credit: Twitter

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