Utah the ‘most talented defense’ Oregon Ducks will face yet

Wholesale NCAA Oregon Ducks Jerseys Cheap Online From China
Post Reply
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:32 am

Utah the ‘most talented defense’ Oregon Ducks will face yet

Post by admin » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:56 am

Oregon’s struggling offense has the unenviable task of getting back on track against a Utah defense that not only ranks atop the Pac-12 in every meaningful statistic, but has no obvious weaknesses.

The No. 5 Utes (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) lead the Pac-12 in pass defense, run defense, total defense, scoring defense, third down defense and have allowed by far the fewest explosive plays in the conference entering Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game against the No. 13 Ducks (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12).

“You’re going to have a tough time finding a weak spot on their defense,” quarterback Justin Herbert said. “They’re so well coached and they’ve got really athletic and talented guys. It’s a challenge for sure but we’re going to do our best to watch film and do what we can do.”

Mario Cristobal said Utah will be the “most talented defense” Oregon has faced and with due respect to Auburn, he’s right.

From a defensive front featuring Bradlee Anae, the Pac-12′s best edge rusher, Leki Fotu and John Penisini, linebacker Francis Bernard, cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safeties Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess, Utah has future NFL players at all three levels. All seven were named first team all-Pac-12 by Pro Football Focus and linebacker Devin Lloyd, cornerbacks John Nurse and Tareke Lewis weren’t far behind.

“Every level of this defense is good,” offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. “It’s all over the film, it’s all over everything they do. They’re coached really, really well. They’ve got really good players on both ends from sideline to sideline, top to bottom and they’ve proven that. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got our hands full. It’s going to be fun; it’s going to be a great test.”

It all starts up front, which is why the Utes lead the country in run defense (56.25 yards per game).

Left guard Shane Lemieux compared the Utes to Auburn and said Utah will be the Ducks’ “biggest challenge” to date.

“Four NFL players, that’s what we see (on Utah’s defensive line),” Lemieux said. “Every single one is a run-stopper; every single one is pass rusher and they get after the passer. They’re 320-340-pound guys that still rush the passer, so that’s rare to see. ... They rush the passer really well for how big they are and they plug up the A gaps. They play rollback techniques on the guards, they’re two-gapping gaps, their defensive ends really get after the passer with Anae and (Mika Tafua), they really get after it. Linebacker, they plug. It’s an old school kind of defense, a downhill defense and they really pride themselves on stopping the run."

Herbert said it’s a challenge not to look at the rush against such a talented defensive line.

"Fortunately, I think we’ve got a pretty good offensive line and they’ve done such a great job all year,' he said. “I’ve got faith in them and the rest of the team has faith in them. We’ll get a good plan of attack and excited to play on Friday.”

It’s hardly surprising for Utah to be good on defense; it’s been the identity of Kyle Whittingham’s program for years now. But the Utes lost their top four tacklers from last season in linebackers Cody Barton and Chase Hansen and safeties Corrion Ballard and Marquise Blair and somehow got better, a testament to exactly how good the rest of the unit is as well as its depth.

“The guys that stepped in and replaced those guys have played exceptional football,” Whittingham said. “Francis Bernard and Devin Lloyd, who stepped in at linebacker and who are being extremely productive. Julian Blackmon, who we moved from corner to safety, and Terrell Burgess, who’s a first-year starter for us on defense but a great member of our squad for a lot of years and played a lot of special teams and situational defense. … All four of those guys have had a terrific years and really all-conference years.”

Oregon’s passing game, which is coming off a season-low 174 yards in the Civil War, has a monumental task finding holes against Johnson and Blackmon, who will each garner All-American consideration.

Ducks wideout Juwan Johnson compared the all-around talent of Utah’s secondary to Cal, which also has several future NFL players.

Despite facing the second-fewest pass attempts this season, Utah’s 13 interceptions still rank 19th nationally and is behind only Oregon (17) in the Pac-12.

“It’s about as one of the talented back ends in the country and they’ve done such a great job and they’re really well coached,” Herbert said. “They’re really athletic and they’re long and lengthy guys and they pose a lot of mismatches against teams.”

Oregon’s respect for Utah is obvious, and it wasn’t merely saying the right things or avoiding bulletin board material.

Juwan Johnson, who has played in conference title games before while at Penn State, doesn’t want his teammates to be psyched out by the caliber of competition Friday night though.

“As long as we don’t get out of whack or get out of style, I feel like we’ll be just fine,” he said. “... I think the big thing for us is staying locked in, following our technique and fundamentals. We shouldn’t get out of whack. We shouldn’t overhype them. They put on pants the same as we do. Don’t overhype those guys.

"We belong there as well. Staying locked in, doing what we do and be aggressive.”

Post Reply