Jordon Scott

The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 7)...: They replace DL Henry Mondeaux.

The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 7)...: They replace DL Henry Mondeaux.

Oregon's promising 2017 season ended with a wild two weeks that saw Willie Taggart depart for Florida State, coach Mario Cristobal take over the program, recruits decommit left and right and then the Ducks fall flat during a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Still, the 2018 season could see Oregon return to Pac-12 prominence. That is, if a lot of variables play out in the Ducks' favor. We will take a position-by-position look at the team to discuss what must happen in order for Oregon to rise again in 2018. 

Other position entries: QuarterbackRunning backsReceivers/Tight endsOffensive lineDefensive backsLinebackersDefensive line.   

--- 

Today: The 2018 Ducks will contend if (Part 7)...:They replace DL Henry Mondeaux.

Key losses: Senior Henry Mondeaux was an impact, three-year starter. Also gone are Elijahn George and Scott Pagano, who was limited by injuries after transferring in from Clemson. 

Projected starters: Defensive end Jalen Jelks, RSr., (6-6, 245); Nose Jordon Scott, So., (6-1, 200); defensive end Austin Faoliu (6-3, 289). 

Key backups: Drayton Carlberg, RJr., (6-5, 286); Gary Baker, RJr., (6-3, 325); Hunter Kampmoyer, RSo., (6-4, 272); Malik Young, RSr., (6-2, 301)

What we know: Jelks has blossomed into a star. The ultra-athletic and talented Jelks led the team with both 6 1/2 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season. He gave the Ducks a pass rusher that they sorely lacked in 2016. He should be all-Pac-12 in 2018, if not make a run at defensive player of the year.

Scott is a beast in the making. As a freshman, he proved to be a valuable run stuffer and pocket destroyer, and he should only get better. 

What we don't know: Faoliu remains a bit of a wild card. There is reason to believe that he will step right in and fill Mondeaux's former spot, but we don't yet know how well he will do in that role full time. 

Plus, the depth situation remains precarious. 

What must happen for Oregon to contend: At the very least, Faoliu must play consistently well. He doesn't need to dominate, just be better than average. If so, Oregon will have one of the best three-man defensive lines in the conference and that will allow the linebackers, where there are some question marks, to flourish. If Faoliu is average, and the depth doesn't come through, the Ducks could have a weakness in play that might prevent them from contending in the Pac-12. 

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon defensive lineman Jordon Scott has been named to the 17th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team.

 

Scott (Largo, Fla. / Pinellas Park HS) finished his freshman season with 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks while starting 11 of Oregon’s 13 games. He had a season-high five tackles at Washington earning a spot on that week’s Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 Team. Scott had multiple tackles in 11 games, including the last 10.

 

Scott, who was previously named the 247Sports True Freshman All-America Team, is the eighth Oregon player to be named to a FWAA Freshman All-America Team. He joins Haloti Ngata (2002), LaMichael James (2009), John Boyett (2009), De’Anthony Thomas (2011), Tyler Johnstone (2012), Royce Freeman (20014) and Troy Dye (2015).

 

Ducks midseason report card: Defense & special teams

Ducks midseason report card: Defense & special teams

Previous post: Offensive report card

---

The most impressive aspect of Oregon's season thus far has been the dramatic turnaround of the defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt.

Last year, Oregon ushered offenses into the end zone while ranking 126th in the nation in total defense (518.4 yards allowed per game) during a 4-8 season. So far this year, the Ducks (4-2, 1-2 PAC-12) rank 29th in total defense (338.3) and 10th in rushing defense (93.7). 

The Ducks lead the conference in sacks (24) and are tops in third-down conversion defense (24.5 percent) after ranking 11th last year (48.5). 

The Ducks are by no means dominant on defense but have shown flashes of heading in that direction. It's still a very young group with just four senior starters and is playing a lot of young players as starters and backups. 

Here are a position-by-position grades for both the defense and special teams:

DEFENSE

Defensive line - B-plus: The improvement of the Ducks' defensive line, which has benefited from the shift back to the 3-4 scheme, is the biggest key to the unit's turnaround. In addition to being stout against the run, the defensive line has been instrumental in the team's improved pass rush. The line has produced 10 1/2 of the team's 24 sacks while helping to create sack opportunities for linebackers. 

Redshirt junior defensive end Jalen Jelks is tied for the team lead with 4 1/2 sacks, including three at Arizona State. His .75 sacks per game ranks tied for second in the PAC-12. Senior defensive end Henry Mondeaux has rebounded from a down year in 2016. He has four sacks to already matching last year's total. He had 6 1/2 sacks in 2015.

Sacks aren't everything, of course. Jelks leads the team with eight tackles for loss and his 1.33 per game ranks second in the conference. 

The return to the 3-4 could have been a disaster if Oregon weren't receiving quality play from freshmen nose tackles Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu. Scott has added two sacks.

Neither is capable of dominating a game or playing every down. However, as a duo, they have been strong enough in the middle to help protect the inside linebackers, and both appear to have the skills to become very good in the future. 

Linebackers - B-minus: Sophomore inside linebacker Troy Dye and redshirt junior outside linebacker Justin Hollins have been nothing short of steller. Both use their size, speed and athleticism to be extremely disruptive on every down. Piti the quarterback that has both coming after him at the same time.

Dye ranks fourth in the conference in tackles per game (8.7) and is tied with Hollins for fifth in tackles for loss per game (1.2). Each has seven. 

Hollins has forced three fumbles and has 2 1/2 sacks. Dye has three sacks. Their size and athleticism have made the 3-4 defense scary from all angles. 

However, play at inside linebacker next to Dye has been inconsistent. Kaulana Apelu, out for the season with a foot injury, played hard and fast but his lack of size at 200 pounds didn't play well at that position. Senior A.J. Hotchkins has been in and out of the lineup and the very inexperienced redshirt sophomore Blake Rugraff has been underwhelming when filling in, thus far. 

The outside linebacker spot opposite Hollins (the Duck position) has been manned by junior Fotu T Leiato II and sophomore La'Mar Winston Jr.  Winston lately has been solid with 17 tackles, three for loss. Senior backup linebacker Jonah Moi has been the team's best reserve linebacker with 14 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. 

Defensive backs - C-plus: Gone are the days of woefully blown coverages and mass confusion. The secondary has been solid in coverage and has proven to be good tacklers in space, most of the time.

Senior Arrion Springs, who struggled with catching interceptions, has still been great in pass coverage. His 10 passes defended are tied for second in the conference. 

Freshman cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., who has a shot at being named a freshman All-American, and junior Ugowchukwu. Both are tied for 8th in the conference with six passes defended, including two interceptions. 

Helping make the secondary hum is redshirt senior Tyree Robinson, who has taken a leadership role. That's helped with the maturation of freshman safety Nick Pickett, who surprisingly took over as a starter and has performed well. 

Still, there is room for improvement. Oregon has allowed 11 touchdown passes, tied for ninth most in the conference. The Ducks have allowed nine touchdown passes. Oregon's seven interceptions puts it well on pace to surpass the nine the team had all of last year. However, six of the seven came within the first two games with four against Nebraska. Oregon has not intercepted a pass in three PAC-12 games while allowing nine touchdown passes. For these reasons the secondary fall short of receiving a B grade. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Return game B-plus: Redshirt junior running back Tony Brooks-James began the season with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Southern Utah. He is averaging 28 yards on 10 returns but that's not enough attempts to qualify to be ranked among the conference leaders. Otherwise, he would be ranked first. Oregon's 24.9 yards per return ranks second. 

Oregon's 7.6 yard average per punt return ranks seventh. This unit has been hindered by the ankle injury suffered by Charles Nelson. He is averaging 17.8 yards per return, which would rank third in the PAC-12 if he had enough returns to qualify. Nelson's replacement, Dillon Mitchell, is averaging a solid 11 yards per return. 

Place kicking - B: Senior kicker Aidan Schneider is once again being used very little. He has attempted just three field goals, making two. He has, however, made all 36 of his extra point attempts and that leads the conference. He ranks ninth in the conference in scoring at seven points per game. The one miss in three attempts prevents Schneider from receiving an "A" grade. But we all know that he is an "A"-level kicker. 

Punting - C-minus: Freshman punter Sam Stack, who has shown great promise, ranks 12th in the conference in punting average (38.3) but has placed nine of his 30 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Again, he's only a freshman. 

Coverage teams B-minus : Oregon's net punting average is 10th in the conference (34.7) thanks mainly to the poor average pe punt. The 1.3 return yards allowed per punt ranks 7th.  The kickoff coverage team has fared much better ranking second in net average at 41.8 yards. 

Amadi and Winston Jr. move into starting lineup

Amadi and Winston Jr. move into starting lineup

Oregon has made changes to its depth chart prior to this week's game at Wyoming. 

At cornerback, junior Ugochukwu Amadi has moved into the starting lineup opposite freshman Thomas Graham Jr. Last week's depth chart leading up to Oregon's 42-35 home win over Nebraska on Saturday listed Graham and Amadi as co-starters with an "Or" between their names. Graham started opposite senior Arrion Springs. 

Graham, named the player of the game, had seven tackles and two interceptions. Amadi clinched the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter. Now both are clear starters but expect Springs to still see plenty of action.

The once tied battle for the nose guard spot between freshmen Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu now has the latter listed as the clear starter. Faoliu actually started both of the team's first two games but rotated with Scott. We shall see how this slight change in the depth chart impacts the rotation at the nose position. 

Speaking of "Or" situations, there are none listed on the current depth chart. However, some backup positions remained slashed ("/") between second-team and third team players.  

Junior inside linebacker Kaulana Apelu is now listed as the clear starter over senior A..J. Hotchkins. And, sophomore La'Mar Winston Jr. has shed the "Or" between himself and junior Fotu T. Leiato II to become the clear starter at the outside linebacker/Duck position. 

Entering last week, freshman safety Nick Pickett was listed as a backup behind redshirt junior Mattrell McGraw. However, Picket started the Nebraska game and is now listed as the lone starter with freshman Billy Gibson as his backup. McGraw is now listed as the backup to redshirt senior Tyree Robinson, who returned to action last week after missing the opener with an injury. 

Redshirt junior safety Khalil Oliver, who started the opening game, missed the Nebraska game due to injury. 

There were no changes to the offensive depth chart. 

 

Oregon freshmen nose guards Scott and Failou will be tested by Nebraska

Oregon freshmen nose guards Scott and Failou will be tested by Nebraska

EUGENE - We will find out what Oregon freshmen nose guards Jordan Scott and Austin Failou are all about when the Ducks (1-0) host Nebraska Saturday at Autzen Stadium. 

The pair saw their first collegiate action during Saturday's 77-21 win over Southern Utah at Autzen Stadium and by all accounts played well despite neither registering a statistic in the game. 

"They didn't stumble," UO defensive line coach Joe Salave'a said. "That's a good thing. You always learn about those things. But those guys have a different temperament about the game and it's refreshing. With that, we'll continue to push and prod those guys to continue to advance and improve."

Both will receive a new education against the Cornhuskers, who return most of their offensive line from last season when Nebraska (1-0) averaged 162 yards rushing per game. The team rushed for 225 in its opener against Arkansas State with sophomore Tre Bryant going for 192 and two touchdowns on 32 carries. 

That Scott and Failou didn't register a tackle isn't a huge concern given that the nose position usually doesn't generate gaudy statistics. The position's job is to command a double team in order to allow the inside linebackers behind the nose to make plays. Sophomore Troy Dye had 10 tackles. Junior Kaulana Apelu made five stops. 

"Without them keeping the center off of me, keeping the guards off of me, I wouldn't be able to make the tackles that I did make," Dye said. "All of those tackles should go to them. They should each have five and I should have zero."

It's a nice sentiment, but one would think that one of the two nose guards would at least accidentally end up with at least an assisted tackle against a vastly inferior opponent. The last starting nose for Oregon was Alex Balducci (the Ducks ran a 4-3 defense last year). He made 40 tackles in 2015 with 7 1/2 for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. 

Oregon coach Willie Taggart, when asked if Scott and Failou were ready to deal with a Nebraska offensive line that might shove them around, took exception to the word choice of "shoved."

"We're not necessarily going in thinking Nebraska is going to shove our guys around, or anything," he said. 

One would think not. However, there will be some shoving and some hitting and it will be done by a veteran offensive line that might not be as impressed with Scott and Failou and Oregon's coaches and players are. That said, Taggart pointed out that the pair has got in plenty of work against Oregon's offensive line. 

"They are young guys, they know how to play football," Taggart said. "Again, they've been competing against our offensive line all training camp and we've got a pretty good offensive line, as well...We feel like those guys are ready to compete and they will be read to compete against Nebraska this Saturday."

In the long run, we could see graduate transfer Scott Pagano (Clemson) become the answer at nose guard. He is working his way back from an injured foot. Pagano mostly played defensive end at Clemson but also dabbled inside. Ideally, he would be at defensive end opposite senior captain Henry Mondeaux. But if push comes to shove, and the Ducks' freshmen indeed are losing most of those shoving matches on the field, it could be time to turn to Pagano.

But, for now, the two freshmen have a chance to prove they can anchor the Ducks' 3-4 defense inside. 

"I thought they showed that they are good enough to play here," Mondeaux said. "Everyone has things to work on but they showed good motors and they ran around and made some plays. I think they did a good job at doing their job."

Taggart has lofty expectations for Fat_Mac34

Taggart has lofty expectations for Fat_Mac34

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Get ready for Fat_Mac34. He's coming to Autzen Stadium this fall, and he's coming strong. 

Fat_Mac34 is the Twitter handle for Oregon freshman nose tackle Jordon Scott. Although, he is no longer carrying as much excess weight as his handle would suggest and that has the Ducks buzzing. Scott made such an impression during spring drills that UO coach Willie Taggart is predicting big things for him before he's ever played a down of college football. 

"I'll be shocked if he's not all-freshman Pac-12," Taggart said Thursday during Pac-12 Media days. 

One of the biggest (pun intended) mysteries surrounding the 2017 Oregon football team is the 6-foot-1, 335-pound Scott, a relatively unheralded three-star recruit out of Largo, Fla., who enrolled early at UO and is listed as the starter on its preseason depth chart, according to Taggart. 

The Ducks, 4-8 last season, could need Scott to play at near an all-conference level as the No. 1 nose tackle. Improvement of Oregon's defense, which ranked 128th in the country last season, will require a dramatic rise in performance from at least 10 out of 11 positions on the field with sophomore linebacker Troy Dye being the lone returning defender that actually played consistently well in 2016.

The Ducks were softest last year up the middle, where opposing teams ran wild against Oregon's 4-3 defense. Now in the 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, finding a nose tackle has been of the highest priority.

Last year's starting defensive tackles won't be available. Austin Maloata was dismissed from the team by former coach Mark Helfrich following an arrest. Junior Rex Manu will miss the upcoming season because of an injury suffered during a car accident. 

Those situations left redshirt sophomore Gary Baker as the favorite to start inside. That was, until Scott arrived and began turning heads with his power, quickness, tenacity, energy, work ethic, and infectious personality. 

"He has had an impact on our entire team," Dye said. 

Scott reportedly received a scholarship offer from Florida before the Gators pulled it back because of Scott's inability to keep his weight down. He arrived at Oregon a hefty 357 pounds but has since gotten down to 333, Taggart said. Scott is listed at 335 on the GoDucks.com roster. Taggart said he wants to see Scott's weight drop to 325.

Taggart said Scott performed all of the running tests players go through prior to fall camp, which begins Monday, and obviously did his work over the summer. 

"He's a guy that likes to eat," Taggart said. "But he stuck to it."

Leavitt last winter, Taggart said, had doubts about Scott's ability to play in the Pac-12. But once Leavitt saw him on the field, that impression changed. 

"He's making Leavitt a believer," Taggart said. 

Last spring, Leavitt praised Scott's abilities and predicted that he certainly would have an impact this fall. 

“Heʼs a very explosive guy and he has great character and he has great demeanor,” Leavitt told CSN in May. “And he has great confidence and knows what he wants. He knows what he wants to do in life, and those qualities are very, very important.”

Taggart predicts that Scott will give opposing interior offensive linemen fits. 

"It's the perfect system for him," Taggart said. "It helps that he is short and he's strong. It's gong to be tough to get up underneath him. You're going to have to double team him."

Taggart has said since day 1 at Oregon that he is looking for players who love the game. Scott, Taggart said, fits that mold and it shows in his motor. 

"The thing that makes him special is how he runs to the football," Taggart said. "Not many kids, especially young guys, are running to the ball. They get blocked and stay blocked. But he is running. You look at the film and the big boy is going."

Figure that Scott and Baker could split playing time almost equally while Scott adjusts to the college level. Being the starter doesn't automatically mean he is ready to handle veteran offensive linemen within the Pac-12 for 50 plays a game. He most certainly, as a freshman, still needs to add strength and stamina to hold up at this level. 

Scott's primary job will be to control the middle, occupy blockers and allow the inside linebackers to make plays. But if Scott is what Taggart believes he will be, then expect to see Scott to get plenty of backfield penetration, and force ballcarriers running outside to be on the lockout for Fat_Mac34 in pursuit.  

"I feel sorry for any running back that's cutting back and don't see him," Taggart said. "That's going to be ugly."

Ten Ducks that must rise in 2017: No. 7 - NT Gary Baker

Ten Ducks that must rise in 2017: No. 7 - NT Gary Baker

Oregon's quest to improve greatly over last season's 4-8 record will depend on the rapid development of several young and/or previously little-used players. Here is a look at ten most likely to rise to the occasion in 2017.

Updated: Information added regarding Rex Manu being done for the season.

--

No. 7: Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Gary Baker. 

The middle of UO's defense needs to be completely remade if Oregon is to improve at all on that side of the ball and while freshman Jordon Scott has a chance to contribute the Ducks must receive increased production from Gary Baker. 

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound Baker was set to compete with junior Rex Manu and others for the starting job. Now Baker appears to be the frontrunner to start after Manu was ruled out for the season with an injury he suffered during a car accident in April.

Baker was thrust into action earlier than expected last year after the middle of the 4-3 defense fell to pieces for a variety of reasons. Baker started four games and had a career-high five tackles at USC. He finished the season with 14 tackles in seven games.

The development of Baker would make life a lot easier for the Ducks' defense. Scott won't be ready to carry a heavy workload as a freshman. Clemson transfer Scott Pagano would be best served playing at defensive end opposite senior Henry Mondeaux. But, if needed, Pagano could play inside and likely will on obvious passing downs, as he did for the Tigers. 

Getting production from Baker inside could allow the rest of the defensive line dominos to fall into place. 

The working list

No. 1: Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. 

No. 2: Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.

No. 3: Nose tackle Jordon Scott

No. 4: Freshman quarterback Braxton Burmeister

No. 5: Sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland

No. 6: Sophomore linebacker La'Mar Winston.

No. 7: Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Gary Baker. 

No. 8: Wide receivers Ofodile, Lovette and McNeal.

No. 9: Safeties Brady Breeze and Billy Gibson

No. 10: Several freshman must deliver

Ducks receive commitment from 350-pound DT, Jordon Scott

Ducks receive commitment from 350-pound DT, Jordon Scott

Oregon has received a commitment from a rather large defensive lineman from the state of Florida.

Jordon Scott, a 6-foot-1, 350-pound defensive tackle out of Pinessal Park High School in Largo, Fla., has committed to play for the Ducks, he announced on Twitter.

Scott, who visited Florida State, Indiana and Iowa State, was named all-state in Florida after making 88 tackles with 10 sacks and 29 tackles for loss. He is rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247Sports.  The latter rates Scott as the 59th best defensive tackle in the nation and as the 117th best overall prospect in the state of Florida.

Scott, based on his highlight video, is certainly athletic for his size. He could be the perfect fit as the nose tackle in new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt's 3-4 scheme.

New Oregon coach Willie Taggart offered Scott a scholarship to play at South Florida.

Scott's commitment gives Oregon 13 for the 2017 class, and it bumped the team's rankings on Rivals.com to 47th.

Scott is the second player from the state of Florida to commit to Oregon since Taggart replaced the fired Mark Helfrich as head coach earlier this month. 

Taggart convinced three-star athlete Darrian McNeal to decommit from Arizona and commit to the Ducks.