In 2013, the Oregon Ducks showed a different side to them that was never seen in all the Chip Kelly years: a good defense.
The Ducks allowed 21.6 points per game last season; which was good enough to be ranked 25th in the nation. The combination of great play from the secondary and the front seven led the Ducks to have their best defensive season in years.
How can Oregon replicate previous successes this year?
The secondary is almost identical to that of last season; therefore, the success is only going to grow. As far as pass rushers, the Ducks lost dynamic player Dion Jordan — who is destined to be a Top 10 draft pick in this April’s NFL Draft.
Next in line is 6-foot 8-inch, 280-pound sophomore from Sacramento, Calif., Arik Armstead, who saw action in 13 games as a true freshman. He tallied 26 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and .5 sacks in limited action every game. This season, Oregon is going to rely on Armstead to make a huge leap in productivity as the value of his role increases within its defense.
Armstead isn’t as athletic as Jordan was, but he has the ability to rush the passer and knock down passes just like Jordan did. Their height is identical, but their weight isn’t comparable. This gives Armstead the upper hand in being a pass rusher and a run stopper, making him the ideal defensive lineman for any defensive scheme.
Jordan was more of an outside linebacker than a defensive-end like Armstead. However, Armstead’s size and strength will be able to bum-rush any offensive tackle in the Pac-12.
Now, Jordan and Armstead are not comparable as players, but what they contribute to the Ducks’ defense is where they’re most similar.
Watch for the massive jump in productivity and success of Armstead this season, as he becomes the premiere defensive lineman on a very talented Oregon Ducks defense.