Oregon Football: Ducks Defense Finally on-Par with the Offense

Nathan LoweryCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kiko Alonso #47 and Taylor Hart #66 of the Oregon Ducks stop Ka'Deem Carey #25 of the Arizona Wildcats on September 22, 2012 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

As much as the Autzen faithful love their offense, we all know that we need to have a strong defense to win a national title.

For years, the Oregon Ducks' offense has been one of the best in the nation. Ever since Chip Kelly joined the program back in 2007 as an offensive coordinator, the Ducks have been associated with speed, speed and even more speed.

But where has that gotten us?

Yes, Oregon is much better than what they used to be, but has that gotten us the national championship that we so desperately need to prove that we're an elite program?

No. But boy, we're off to a great start.

Now to go along with that finesse offense, Oregon has the defense to compete with the elite programs from the across the nation.

At their best with backs against wall: Ducks one of four teams top-10 nationally in third-down and red-zone D. With TCU, Bama, Utah State.

— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) September 23, 2012

Is that not proof enough for anyone that the Ducks defense is finally on-par with the offense?

Throughout the entire Arizona game last night, there were plenty of occasions when my heart rate sky-rocketed and my nerves were on edge because the Wildcats were in the red zone. However, Oregon always found a way not only to keep Arizona out of the end zone, but also off of the scoreboard, period.

Rich Rodriguez is the best offensive mind in all of football—not named Chip Kelly, of course.

With the way the Ducks defense played last night, they made me look like I belong in an insane asylum for that statement.

Oregon held the Wildcats to only 299 yards of total offense, blocked a field goal, had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, kept Arizona off the scoreboard despite six trips to the red zone, and forced five turnovers on the night.

Impressive for a team that has been deemed to small and weak on the defensive side of the ball.

No unit on the defense has played poorly, though the team has had to deal with the loss of senior All-American safety John Boyett.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomulu, a sophomore who came to Eugene as a 4-star prospect according to ESPN, looks everything like a shutdown corner, ranking 11th in the nation in pass deflections with seven.

Ekpre-Olomulu has also added two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown last night.

It only gets better from there, though.

Oregon has possibly the best 1-2 linebacker combo in the conference with Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay.

Clay finished the game with 13 tackles last night, while Alonso had an interception of Matt Scott to give him two for the season.

On the defensive line, the Ducks finally have the size that they are going to need to compete with the physicality of teams like Alabama and Florida State.

That's right—1,135 pounds of pure muscle anchor the defensive line for the Ducks. Add in the other 1,354 pounds of the five backups and you see why Oregon has 10 sacks on the season.

With the physical defense Oregon can now field along with their finesse offense, a national title is a very reachable goal for 2012.