Isaac Remington and Brandon Hanna had sacks against Cal, and that’s a good development. Dion Jordan? He has eleven total tackles in his last two games, including 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Terrell Turner had 2.5 tfls against Arizona and Cal. These are signs the Oregon defensive line is coming together, and with Ricky Heimuli getting healthier and more mobile, look for them to get some pressure on Brock Osweiler, who’s billed as a mobile quarterback even though ASU has been sacked 14 times, intercepted six times and completes only 38% of third downs.
Dennis Erickson’s offense takes more shots downfield than most any team in the PAC-12. Getting pressure on Osweiler is a huge factor in this game.
The return of middle linebacker Michael Clay will help the defensive line a lot. Even after missing three games he’s sixth on the team in tackles. He fills gaps. He finishes plays, steers runners back into the pile, wraps up and cleans up. He’ll make the entire defense more effective, provided he’s full-go.
Here some interesting numbers on the defense, from collegefootballstats.com. The Oregon defense is holding opponents to a 53% completion rate. The reason opponents have so many passing yards is that they have to throw so much. Sometimes it seems like the defense can’t get off the field, but the third down conversion rate is under 36%, and fourth down, 43%, compared to 64% for the Ducks.
Also from cfbstats.com, the Ducks are 92% in the red zone with most of those scores being touchdowns, 16 out of 21 if I remember correctly. Opponents are converting just 76% of red zone opportunites, and are kicking more field goals.
Oregon’s young secondary has done a good job, but now that they’ve gain some experience, it’s time to start picking off some passes. So far the Ducks have just four total takeaways on the season.