Oregon’s defense has been a major part of the program’s turn toward brighter days under first-year head coach Willie Taggart.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has his players believing they have a long way to go, though.
“Coach (Jim) Leavitt would like for us to say ‘F,'” corner Arrion Springs said of his grade for Oregon’s defensive play so far, per Andrew Greif of The Oregonian. “So we just keep going, don’t be satisfied with nothing. So yeah, ‘F.’ I want to pat myself on the back but we’ve still got six more games but we’ve still got to do better.”
Springs is part of a unit that has improved dramatically from 2016’s version. Look no further than the recognition three of the group’s standouts received this week, which came after a 33-10 loss to Washington State. Springs, linebacker Troy Dye and defensive lineman Jalen Jelks were included on Pro Football Focus College’s Pac-12 defense of the week, making up more than a fourth of the team with Ducks alone. It doesn’t come as a surprise to Springs, though.
“We weren’t very good, we were really awful, so any kind of improvement would be better than last year, last two years,” Springs said. “I’m impressed but I’m not like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know we could play this good.’ I figured it was all there and we were really hungry for it and want to prove we’re good players.”
Their play hasn’t been good enough for Dye, either.
“We’re playing all right,” Dye said, again via The Oregonian’s Greif. “We’re not playing to the standard that we hold ourselves to, we still give up too many explosive plays and that’s what’s really been careless throughout this whole year.”
That’s coming from someone who leads his team with 52 tackles through 6 games. It doesn’t take much else to see the bar Leavitt has set for his group of Ducks. Should this become the standard in Oregon, we might shift from raving about the high-flying Ducks’ offense and start gushing over the Oregon defense. After all, you can’t spell Ducks without D.
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