When you look at the numbers from a year ago, Oregon football didn’t seem to have all that great of a defense and that’s a fair assumption because ranking No. 62 in total yards allowed and 59th in scoring isn’t going to strike fear into any opposing offense.
Moreover, ranking in the middle of the Pac-12 in every major defensive category is nothing more than disappointing, but Andy Avalos was still considered one of the best coordinators in the country before taking the Boise State job this offseason. Mario Cristobal went out and hit a home run, adding Cal’s Tim DeRuyter which is only going to help improve the unit in 2021.
Talent is not lacking on the defensive side of the ball, but consistency was an issue a year ago. If DeRuyter can get the most out of these guys, I think the Ducks will have a playoff-type season.
Which three Duck defenders could have breakout seasons in year one of DeRuyter?
It’s not going to be easy for a young cornerback to break out on this roster with guys like DJ James and Mykael Wright as the projected starters, but Dontae Manning could push for one of those spots.
I’m all in on Wright being the next great defensive back to come out of Oregon and I don’t see him losing his starting job this season but James is much less solidified in that role. I could see Manning pushing him for those snaps and the former five-star had a strong spring which could translate to a monster redshirt freshman season.
The former No. 31 player in the 2020 recruiting class hasn’t recorded a single statistic at the collegiate level but he has drawn some solid comparisons on 247Sports to Marshon Lattimore by national writer Charles Power.
Manning stock should be scooped up now before he becomes a household name by the end of the 2021 season. He has All-Pac-12 talent.