Troy Dye, a freshman from Norco, California, showed the reason why coaches have been praising his motor and knowledge of the game in practice. Dye, a strong side linebacker, was in the backfield all game for the Oregon Ducks defense. Dye finished the game with eleven tackles, four and a half of those for loss. The first quarter Dye came out firing on all cylinders recording six tackles in the period alone.
“The atmosphere was what I expected, but the way I played, I didn’t expect that at all,” Dye said. “I went out there and read what I read and did what the coaches told me to do and had fun.”
Oregon fans can gripe about allowing a team that only won two games in the FCS last year to score 28 points, but progress from last year is quite evident. Hoke’s new defensive scheme seems to be resonating as players clearly have bought into the system. Outside of X’s and O’s the defense seemed to be playing with some fire. A fire that was missing much of last year.
Jalen Jelks and Arrion Springs also provided solid individual performances on defense. Jelks snuffed out an attempted UC Davis screen and was able to intercept the ball for Oregon’s only turnover of the day. Jelks is a gifted athlete standing at 6-6 and weighing in at 266 pounds. If he can continue to read the game as he did on Saturday, he will develop into a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line, a position very instrumental in Hoke’s defensive scheme. Springs, a junior cornerback from San Antonio, has begun to accept his role as a leader on the Ducks defense. On Saturday against UC Davis he showed vast improvement on one on one bump and run coverage. If he can continue to hone in on his technique, he has the tools to be a great lockdown corner.
"24-7, 365 confidence from Arrion," said running back Royce Freeman. "He's been like that since Day One."
A cornerback as confident as Springs allows Hoke to pack the box and help with the ducks run defense and ability to rush the passer.
Looking forward, the defense certainly has room for improvement but Oregon fans should be happy with the extent that the Oregon defense has bought into Brady Hoke’s system and the overall passion they showed as a unit.