Ask Dwight: Mariota & DAT going pro?
The mid-season point of the college football season sees the Oregon Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) ranked No. 2 in the country and playing their typical brand of dominant football.
On point: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has been tough on his defense this season, often expressing concerns after seemingly dominant showings.
But that’s not the case here because it’s about time people wake up and recognize just how dominant Oregon’s defense actually is.
The Ducks rank 18th in the country in total defense (338.7 yards per game).
On the surface, 18th is certainly very good but doesn’t begin to reflect just how strong the Ducks’ defense has been.
The overall yardage numbers are skewed Because of the pace of Oregon’s offense, the defense has faced 479 plays, more than all 17 teams ranked ahead of the Ducks in total defense.
The number that should matter more is yards allowed per play where Oregon ranks sixth (4.24).
The Ducks also rank sixth in scoring defense, allowing 13.8 points per game.
Another number that’s misleading is Oregon’s 137.7 yards rushing allowed per game, which ranks 34th. Misleading because the Ducks are only allowing 3.4 yards per-carry.
However, Washington running back Bishop Sankey, the best UO as faced this season, did get loose for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
The passing defense ranks 20th at 201 yards allowed per game. But among the top 50, only Ball State has seen more pass attempts (246 to 236).
The 5.11 yards Oregon has allowed per attempt ranks second in the country. Only Michigan State has a lower average (4.48).
Oregon’s pass defense efficiency ranks fifth at 94.71.
Furthermore, Oregon is tied for 13th in turnovers gained (15) and 17th in sacks per game (2.83).
Because of the repeated blowouts, not many defensive players have tallied up grand statistics.
But inside linebacker Derrick Malone leads the team in tackles (52). Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has 36.
Missing the mark: Where have the interceptions gone? Oregon ranks tied with 25 other teams for 36th in interceptions at seven. Oregon last season led the nation with 26.
Cornerback Terrance Mitchell leads the the team with three. He and safety Erick Dargan lead the team with four pass breakups each.
But to be fair, getting interceptions is a byproduct of a lot of things a defense cannot control. Based on overall team statistics, the Ducks are applying plenty of pressure and not allowing much success in the passing game. If that continues the interceptions should come.
MVP: No clear choice but let’s go with junior defensive end Tony Washington. He leads the team in tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (4 ½), giving the Ducks the pass rush it sorely needed after losing Dion Jordan to the NFL.
Grade: A. They lack the offense’s flash but the defense’s ability to shut down teams is one of the reasons why the offense is able to rack up mind-boggling numbers.