What stood out during Ducks media session
LOS ANGELES - Oregon Ducks inside linebacker Derrick Malone strives for perfection, which might appear to be a pointless task in the violent, chaotic world of playing college linebacker.
“That’s just the type of person I am,” Malone said during Pac-12 media day at Paramount Studios.
So much so that it often caused him to hesitate and ultimately cost the Ducks’ defense chances at big plays in the opponent’s backfield.
Malone led Oregon with 105 tackles last season but had just 2 ½ for loss. Fellow inside linebacker Rodney Hardrick had 65 tackles and three for loss.
The duo’s five tackles for loss paled in comparison to the 24 delivered in 2012 by Oregon’s then starting inside linebackers, Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso.
Malone, a senior out of Colton, Calif., said he expects his tenacity and quest for perfection to intersect more often this season and lead to more tackles for loss.
“This year, I’ve studied more so I’m playing faster, and the way I’m thinking is a lot quicker, so I’m able to react a lot faster,” Malone said.
That formula, he hopes, will allow him to replace plays from 2013 when he saw an opening yet hesitated out of uncertainty with plays where he has no doubt and attacks.
Alonso mastered doing as much.
“I’m more precise and detail orientated,” Malone said. “(Alonso) was more like, go, go, go."
Or, as former Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said of Alonso’s attacking style prior to the 2013 Fiesta Ball: “See the ball, get ball, eat ball. Eat the ball carrier.”
Malone believes he can be that guy, too.
Making more plays in the backfield would certainly help the Ducks rebuild their run defense, which faltered greatly late last season when Stanford, Arizona and Oregon State ran at will on the Ducks, who begin fall camp Aug. 4.
Even though Malone plans to be more aggressive, he hasn’t added weight. He said he’s carrying 220 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, and prefers that ratio because he’s not simply a run stuffer.
“I like being the weight that I am because I’m able to cover, as well,” Malone said. “In certain packages I’m able to cover like a DB, so I like the weight that I’m at. I think I hold my weight up pretty well.”
Malone excelled against the pass last year had two interceptions and three pass breakups. He returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown during UO’s 30-7 win over Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
Such physical abilities, and attention to detail, have made Malone must-follow leader, according to Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.
“He can walk into every position meeting room and have instant credibility,” Helfrich said. “He can talk to anybody on offense, too and throughout our team. He's a guy that kind of walks the walk and always talks the talk.”