Oregon's defense to receive some extra coaching TLC

Oregon's defense to receive some extra coaching TLC

The Oregon defense, which ranked 128th in the nation last season, will receive some extra tender love and care under new coach Willie Taggart.

During a lengthy one-on-one interview this week that will air later this month on CSN, Taggart said that special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie has recently been handed the extra assignment of also coaching outside linebackers. That will leave defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to coach only the inside linebackers instead of the entire linebacker crew. 

Oregon already has two defensive backs coaches with Keith Heyward handling safeties and Charles Clark directing the cornerbacks. 

Assistant head coach Joe Salave'a will coach the defensive line. 

The reason for the use of multiple coaches at two different position groups on defense is simple. Taggart said the defensive side of the ball needs more work in the areas of development and communication, a big issue for Oregon the past two seasons when the defense ranked among the worst in the nation. 

The decision to have two defensive backs coaches, something Leavitt used as the defensive coordinator in Colorado before Oregon hired him away during the offseason, is to increase communication within a group that is spread out all over the field. Plus, the group must communicate coverages with the linebackers. 

"We're trying to create a synergy throughout the defense," Taggart said.

Teaching a new defense to what was a very young group last year with just one senior starter will be challenging. Having two defensive back coaches working to make sure there is at least proper communication will help accelerate the growth process, Taggart hopes. 

"It's a lot easier if guys have two coaches back there," Taggart said. 

The same could happen with the linebackers. Oregon will have seven linebackers that are going to be either freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores. Getting them up to speed as fast as possible could make all the difference next season, but especially by 2018 when four out of that group will likely make up the starting lineup. 

While the defense will have five full-time coaches handling position groups, the offense will have four. Co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal will take on the running game and the offensive line. Co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will handle the passing game, quarterbacks and tight ends with the help of a graduate assistant. Michael Johnson will coach wide receivers and Donte Pimpleton will handle the running backs. 

Source: Oregon close to hiring defensive line coach Joe Salave'a away from WSU

Source: Oregon close to hiring defensive line coach Joe Salave'a away from WSU

Oregon is close to hiring defensive line coach Joe Salave'a away from Washington State, according to a source. 

Salave'a is a top-end recruiter who could help revitalize Oregon's defensive line both by developing the young players already on the roster and by landing new talent to help the Ducks improve what was one of the worst defenses in the nation in 2016.

According to sources, Salave'a visited Oregon earlier this month.  Scout.com reported in December that Salave'a was in talks with Oregon

Should a deal be reached, Salave'a would join a defensive staff that will be led by new coordinator Jim Leavitt, who spent the past two seasons at Colorado. Taggart has also hired safeties coach Keith Heyward (Louisville) and cornerbacks Charles Clark (Colorado). Clark has already been formally announced by Oregon. Heyward played at Oregon State and spent years coaching at USC and Washington. 

Oregon is also in line to potentially hire Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. He could become Oregon's offensive coordinator and/or offensive line coach. 

Salave'a coached defensive line at WSU from 2012 through 2016. Prior to that he spent a year in the same position at Arizona (2011), and before that he coached two years at San Jose State (2008-2009).

Salave'a was a two-time All-Pac-10 performer at Arizona (1994-197) before playing eight years in the NFL. He spent four seasons with the Tennessee Titans and was on the 1999 team that lost Super Bowl XXXIV to the St. Louis Rams.