What's Quack'n: Oregon's defense even younger than last year
Young doesn't have to mean troublesome
How about this Oregon Ducks defense stepping up to the plate last Saturday vs. Bowling Green. Ducks fans got a taste of some new faces alongside veteran safety Ugo Amadi and junior ILB Troy Dye. With linebacker La'mar Winston Jr. having to leave the game early with an injury, a lot of fresh faces entered the game and got some serious playing minutes.
Today, we got to speak to defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and head coach Mario Cristobal recapping Saturday’s win over Bowling Green and looking ahead to the Portland State Vikings this Saturday.
A young Ducks squad got even younger this season
Last season, the defense was packed with upperclassmen: Tyree Robinson, Arrion Springs, Ugo Amadi, Jonah Moi, Henry Mondeaux… this season, some fresh faces so far are gathering valuable minutes for this young team looking to replace the departed talent. Defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach Jim Leavitt is so far pleased with the progress:
“They did good. I thought Isaac (Slade-Matautia) played well. He played over 40 snaps. I was really proud of him. First time playing in a college football game. It’s interesting, we are a younger team on defense than we were last year. You got about three guys in the pros from last year. Look at how many seniors are on this defense. A couple? 2 or 3? 3 guys maybe? That’s a pretty young defense… We had some pretty good seniors. I think three are in the NFL right now and doing pretty good.”
Leavitt impressed with young linebacker core
In La'mar Winston Jr.’s absence, freshman Adrian Jackson and sophomore Keith Simms got to see some good minutes alongside Troy Dye vs. Bowling Green. Leavitt was impressed with both:
“I thought Adrian [Jackson] came in and played good. We played Adrian in both places inside and outside, that’s pretty hard for a true freshman that never played linebacker in his life. He was a safety, basically, in high school. He’s going to be real good, he’s just got to keep playing football.”
“I’m so proud of Keith [Simms]. I really am. And he has played everywhere too. He had 47 snaps at outside and played very well. I was very proud of him. He did a good job.”
Coaches are teachers, very technical
Since day one of being named head coach, Mario Cristobal has mentioned time and time again that he and his coaches are teachers of the game. And today, and everyday, was no different. Coaches were on the players about not completing the drills correctly or not giving 100% effort.
“We’re instructional, we’re technical, we stress fundamentals, and we bring intensity with that,” says Cristobal. “In our opinion, and everyone does it differently, we feel that’s it’s a trademark of a good teacher: one that can bring passion to the table but still stay technical and stay on the fundamentals because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re training for. We are training to be a better football team.”
Be comfortable in the uncomfortable
“If it feels comfortable, you’re probably not doing it right,” says Cristobal.
Yes it is Portland State. Yes the Vikings did just lose 72-19 to Nevada. All these are true, but that does not stop Cristobal, the Oregon coaches, and the players from keeping a mentality to focus in on Oregon football, getting better, and not underestimating your opponent.
“You have to always work on the mentality.”