Oregon vs. Cal: Overlooked Oregon Defense Creating Turnovers for Offense

Kyle Kensing@kensing45Contributor ISeptember 29, 2013

Sep 28, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Terrance Mitchell (27) defends against California Golden Bears running back Daniel Lasco (2) at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The big, yellow "O" on Oregon's chrome helmets could stand for offense, and the 55 points the Ducks hung on Pac-12 opponent Califiornia do nothing to dispel the notion that the Ducks are built from that side of the ball. 

However, after completely grounding head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's "Bear Raid" attack, the time to talk about Oregon's defense as a championship-caliber unit has arrived. 

The dizzying defensive deluge Oregon unloaded on Cal was even more relentless than the steady downpour of rain Saturday night in Eugene. The Golden Bears were forced into five turnovers, which the ultra-efficient Duck offense converted into 28 points. 

Such is Oregon's recipe for success. The quick-strike offense can't flourish as it does without the defense so expertly creating opportunities. 

Freshman linebacker Torrodney Prevot announced his presence to the Pac-12 scene authoritatively. His speed off the edge often caught Golden Bear blockers flat-footed, and his long frame disrupted the field vision of quarterbacks Jared Goff and Zach Kline. 

Prevot, like many of his Duck teammates, doesn't resemble the hulking presences that define SEC defenses or Pac-12 rival Stanford. But with the swarming style employed by coordinator Nick Aliotti, he doesn't need to be. 

Like its offense, Oregon's defense is overwhelming opponents with speed—and a lot of it. 

Boseko Lokombo continued to show off the quickness at linebacker that should make him a highly coveted NFL draft prospect. Defensive end DeForest Buckner was in on two of the Ducks' tone-setting plays in the first quarter, sacking Goff once and recovering a fumble.  

Flying to the ball has long been the hallmark of Aliotti's scheme, but this year's Ducks have mastered it through their first four outings. 

The 16 points Cal scored were the most Oregon has surrendered this season, and each of the Golden Bears' two touchdowns came well after the outcome had been decided. 

Though the 1-2 record Cal brought into Autzen Stadium may not have been impressive, each of the Golden Bears losses came to opponents currently ranked in the Top 20. 

Cal scored 30 points against Northwestern and 34 against Ohio State, one of the teams along with Oregon that is expected to vie for the BCS championship.

Of course, the Golden Bears are not often going to commit five first-half turnovers. The four fumbles Cal lost before intermission are partially attributable to the torrential rainfall. However, to discredit the Ducks' takeaways as purely the result of the elements would be erroneous. Oregon came into Saturday's tilt against Cal with a plus-seven turnover differential. Only Miami's plus-eight was better. 

Oregon took the lead in that category, as the Ducks closed Week 5 with an astounding plus-10 turnover differential—even after the offense coughed up its first two turnovers of the season.