On the Tuesday ahead of Oregon football’s first game of 2018, the Ducks’ defense looks to have a new identity than last year.
“We had to get a little bit more confident in what we do in the scheme and the techniques that we do by position,” co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “The one thing that we harped on was playing hard and playing together.”
With the Ducks set to take on Bowling Green at 5 p.m. on Saturday, the atmosphere around camp has taken an uptick. The players have a different energy about them and they’re looking forward to getting back out in front of the Autzen Stadium crowd.
“It’s game week so everyone is a little bit peppier, a little bit excited and a little bit more angsty so we try to make sure that we’re still playing the right way,” junior outside linebacker La’mar Winston said.
Oregon is heavy favorites against Bowling Green on Saturday, but the Ducks aren’t taking the Falcons lightly. Bowling Green prefers to throw the ball rather than run it, which will put the Oregon secondary under pressure in the first game of the season.
As a whole, the defense can’t get caught flat-footed.
“Their offense has been steady,” Salave’a said. “They’ve been able to put up numbers over the last year and that’s kind of distorted because they haven’t really been able to play decent defense. But they have a lot of guys coming back and it sounds like they had an awesome offseason.”
There’s plenty of experience for Oregon’s defense ahead of the 2018 season, and that’s offered Oregon a boost for the defense. With players like Winston and junior inside linebacker Troy Dye leading the front of the defense, the Ducks have faith in their defensive front seven.
“A lot of confidence in each other,” Winston said. “We’ve bonded a lot better and then to top that off we are back with the same defense. We’re excited to see how well we do play.”
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