Oregon Ducks Defense Is A Work In Progress To Say The Least

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The Oregon Ducks opened up the 2015 season with a 62-41 win over Eastern Washington. Let us all take a moment to be grateful that Oregon didn’t succumb to a loss today like so many of its Pac-12 brethren did. There are a few other positives to take from tonight, and they all come from the offensive side of the ball. Vernon Adams Oregon debut was comforting in a 19-25 outing with two touchdowns on 246 yards. Despite his lack of experience in the program, he proved he could command the offense. The Ducks’ receiving core also showed they were worth the hype. Adams will have plenty of weapons on the outside. The main storyline from the offense, however, was Royce Freeman, who steamrolled to 180 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman’s importance to this offense can’t be emphasized enough. And while the offense dazzled for most of the night in a 61-point drubbing, the same can’t be said for the Oregon defense.

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To put it kindly, the Ducks’ defensive performance tonight was disappointing. The FCS Eastern Washington Eagles offense threw for 438 yards with five touchdowns. The Eagles rushed for 111 yards with one touchdown. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp broke an Autzen Stadium record tonight with 246 yards on 15 catches and three touchdowns. All in all, Eastern Washington managed to put 42 on the Autzen Stadium scoreboard. All night it was an array of missed tackles, poor angles, and blown coverage for the young Ducks’ defensive backs. From Chris Seisay to Arrion Springs to Ugo Amadi – none had a strong performance.

But Oregon’s defensive woes extend well beyond the secondary. Oregon’s defensive line contributed a forgettable performance tonight. The Ducks’ steady three-man rush managed only one sack. Star defensive end DeForest Buckner was seemingly non-existent all night. And with all respect to Jordan West and Reilly Hennessey, what will the likes of a Connor Cook do with that much time in the pocket?

Pessimistically speaking, Oregon’s defense is a glaring weakness that will get exposed once pitted against a more threatening offense. Optimistically thinking, tonight’s game served as a preseason exhibition for Oregon’s young defensive core. Realistically, it could be unreasonable to expect a drastic change in play between now and next weekend at Michigan State. As it stands now, based off of what we saw tonight, Oregon’s best chance of pulling off an upset in East Lansing is to outscore the Spartans. As we all know, that’s not a new concept for the Ducks.