Oregon Defense: “The Great Wall of Cristobal”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Do you like the above nickname for the Oregon defense? I like how it rolls and rhymes so well, and I have to give credit to my friend, Ugly Duckling, for creating it with me. It just seemed so appropriate that an Oregon defense had some kind of moniker for what is evolving as a crucial element of this 2021 Oregon football team. Usually I am analyzing the offense, and there is time for that later, but I noted some items on defense that I just had to share.

The written word in this article will be much less, because I have a surprise for you; I made my first videos with audio in ten years! Now I do not have the editing I want, and it is rough, but it is fun to be commenting on a video instead of writing out everything. And it is fun to follow a theme for both videos as we look at these plays together. First, I am still reeling not only from the game, but also from how short-handed and young the Oregon defense on the field was!

We all know about Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe not being available, but inserting a freshman at linebacker in Keith Brown who had no experience? And he made some plays before his injury! When Brown went down, they slid Noah Sewell over to weakside linebacker (Will) and brought in Nate Heaukulani at middle linebacker! This young man (No. 46) is a senior walk-on from Portland at only 6’1” and 224 pounds, and he has waited his turn to now help the Ducks beat the Buckeyes with some great plays.

But first, I do want to look closely at Noah Sewell’s highlights in Columbus…

Noah Sewell not only had a monster game, but he helped establish a physical tone and reinforced what Coach Mario Cristobal has been telling the press and fans over the last three years. Pundits have been acknowledging that Oregon’s recruiting is beginning to show, and that game at Ohio State was exhibit “A.” The respect factor is climbing higher, although I cannot complain with both polls jumping to No. 4 for the Ducks. Our path is simple to make the Playoff; win out to get in.

Yes, Ohio State got a boatload of yards, but the “Great Wall of Cristobal” held the Buckeyes 17 points below their current and three-year average. Sure, there are a ton of issues yet to button up, but the upside to this unit is clearly sky high, and yet it was a heroic performance by so many on the Duck defense. Want a glimpse of the future without Thibs? Watch the young-guns in this game…

Back to Sewell…. As most of you know, I’ve been critical of the freshman mistakes he’s made, but it appears that linebacker coach Ken Wilson has done a superb job correcting many errors and yet retaining his capacity for aggression and vicious hits. I must give credit where due, and I cannot help but wonder if Saturday’s performance might not get Sewell on some All-American lists as a candidate?

I love to notice the new faces that emerge, and one that caught my eye in the Spring Game, the Fresno State game and in Columbus is Bradyn Swinson in the above video. He was a 2020 signee from Douglasville, Georgia at 6’4″ and 240 pounds and was a 3-Star pass rusher at Rivals.com. He was offered also by Florida State, Arizona State, Missouri and North Carolina and was a typical recruit that I don’t really notice until he makes plays on the field.

It is exciting to see him realize during a big game that, “I can play here and make a difference.” Having that confidence-building game so early in the season really makes me look forward to his future growth. We all are thrilled with the plays he made in the video above, and his improving ability to shed blocks.

This article is a new and different format for me, and while it will not be the norm–it is fun to share my thoughts along with the exciting plays in one of most thrilling games in years at Oregon. This just whets the appetite for more of the “Great Wall of Cristobal” this 2021 season as…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

C’mon FishDuck readers … pass this along to your friends, to other forums and to Social Media.  Who else is showing video of upcoming Oregon stars like Bradyn Swinson?

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