Duck Defense: Are You Beginning to Believe?

Ryan Robertson Editorials

This is kind of hard to believe about Our Beloved Ducks, so you need to confirm this for yourself in reference to just how unique this season has progressed through five games. I was able to pull Mr. FishDuck from his NFL Thursday predictions long enough for even him to be amazed as well.

The first thing you should do is go into your favorite search engine and type “2022 Oregon Ducks Football”.  Next, open the schedule and look at the scores. Sure, there are a couple that hurt in retrospect, but look at the scores that Oregon allowed.

Next, open a second tab of the same search engine and search for “2023 Oregon Ducks Football”. Open the schedule again, and look at the scores that the Ducks have allowed in 2023.

Do you see it? The difference is stark. In the last two weeks, Oregon has allowed 12 total points. I will say again, because this merits repeating: OVER A TWO WEEK STRETCH, THE OREGON DUCKS ALLOWED 12 TOTAL POINTS!!! Last season, there was only one single game where they allowed fewer than 12 points, while this year they have done it in four of their five games, including allowing only 12 combined points in the last two weeks.

The number of sacks are quite a contrast compared to last year. (Photo by Nancy Paiva)

Sure, Stanford is probably the second worst team in the conference this year (Sorry, Kenny Dillingham), but the Ducks rallied after the first quarter to hold the Cardinal scoreless for the rest of the game. Stanford was horrible last year as well, and Oregon allowed 27 points to them in Autzen Stadium! It boggles my mind as to how they are pulling this off, because it is simply one of the best defensive starts in school history.

That being said, this is the second straight week that Oregon has won 42-6, the second straight week they scored all 42 of their points consecutively, and the second straight week they held their opponents under two yards per rush. This week, that last number wasn’t for a lack of trying, as Stanford rushed the ball a staggering 41 times, compared to Colorado’s 31 last week.

This is also the first game since Arizona in 2019 where Oregon didn’t allow their opponent to score a touchdown. That was the Rose Bowl season with Justin Herbert as a senior. Herbert is in his fourth NFL season, and between then and today Oregon has allowed at least one touchdown in every game.

For anyone who might be frustrated by the lack of turnovers forced by the Ducks this season, consider what improvements we have seen, and what they mean for turnovers. Last season, the defense could not tackle anyone. YAC was a huge issue leading to the poor point per game effort over the course of the season. However, the defense was able to force more turnovers, because they were playing the football on passes, instead of playing the receivers.

Pursuit and tackling are excellent. (Photo by Nancy Paiva)

This led to a plethora of missed tackles when there was no turnover. This season, however, the defense is sticking to the receivers like glue, leading to very few missed tackles after the catch, but fewer interceptions.

If you want to feel even more impressed with the defensive effort Oregon has shown the last two weeks, look at what Colorado did to the USC defense today (41 points, and then salivate because Oregon plays the Trojans in a few weeks). It cannot be overstated how impressive the defense has been.

Not to mention the offense, which shook off the rust after a scoreless first quarter to score 42 points the rest of the way. Bo Nix has been outstanding, the running game is starting to dominate as the offensive line starts to gel. The only blemish on the day was a tough afternoon for Camden Lewis, who put two kickoffs out of bounds and missed a field goal after getting iced.

Now Oregon gets their bye week. Time to get healthy (I am looking at you Jestin Jacobs), work on a few things, and prep for whichever random, faceless opponent is waiting on the other side of the bye. I am sure the defense won’t have any issues with whomever they play in two weeks.

Ryan Robertson
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Top Photo by Nancy Paiva

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!