The Oregon Ducks were very successful on the defensive side of the ball last year. The Ducks gave up an average 24.6 points per game in 2011. They only gave up more than 35 points three times during the season (LSU, USC, and Wisconsin).
However, the Ducks did have some good games defensively as they held the Arizona State Sun Devils to 27 points and the Stanford Cardinals to 30 points. The 2012 schedule plays into Oregon favor defensive because their non-conference opponents are easier and they only play two ranked teams (for now).
The Oregon Ducks will enter the 2012 season without two key defensive players from their 2011 team. Both Eddie Pleasant and Josh Kaddu left the Ducks after getting the chance to play in the NFL. Kaddu was drafted by the Miami Dolphins while Pleasant was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent.
In 2011, Pleasant recorded 61 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, and eleven pass deflections while Kaddu recorded 50 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and two pass deflections.
For returning players, the Ducks have three key players returning on the defense in 2012 which include: Michael Clay, Dion Jordan, and John Boyett. Boyett will play free safety in 2012 and he recorded 108 total tackles (most on the team), 3.5 tackles for loss, half of a sack, one interception, and two blocked kicks. Clay will play linebacker in 2012. He recorded 102 total tackles (second most on team), 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
The biggest returning player on the Oregon defense might have to be Dion Jordan. Jordan had an absolute breakout year in 2011. He recorded 42 total tackles, thirteen tackles for loss (most on the team), 7.5 sacks (most on the team), and one forced fumble. If there is anyone who can get to the quarterback or running back in the backfield, it will have to be Jordan if the Ducks want to be successful in 2012.
The most bizarre aspect about the Oregon Ducks’ defense is the amount of time they spend on the football field. The reason they spend so much time on the field is not because of how bad the offense is (because the offense is not bad at all), but because of how quick the offense scores and finishes drives.
At the Pac-12 Conference Media Day, Michael Clay was asked about what measures the Oregon defense takes to properly condition for being on the field so long. He responded:
“We go against the fastest offense in the country four times out of the week, so I think we’re mentally and physically prepared to go 60 minutes with any team because we go against our offense 10 minutes throughout the day, but you’re pulling out 40 plays. That’s unheard of right there. I think we just kind of get ready for that in the summer and then during practice the fastest offense in the country.”
The Ducks will enter the 2012 season ranked #5 in the pre-season polls.
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