The Oregon Ducks started right where they left off last year in the Sun Bowl, coming out in dominant fashion, this time against the Washington Huskies.
Now that the two stars of last season, Dennis Dixon and Jonathon Stewart, left for the NFL, it will be up to the defense to make the plays this year for the Ducks.
Everyone knows how good the defense is, especially the Ducks' secondary. They counter difficult Pac-10 offensive attacks with three defensive backs ranked in the Top 25: Patrick Chung (5), Jairus Byrd (19), and Walter Thurmond III (23).
Sure, I'm biased, because I went to high school with Byrd, but I think their on-field performance gives them enough reason to be called the "best secondary in the nation".
The three aforementioned players combined for 16.5 tackles in their first game, led by Byrd's 8.5 tackles.
Chung leads the class in many expert's minds, and he will start for the fourth-straight year in the Ducks' defensive secondary. He totaled 117 tackles last season, and has averaged 97 tackles per year over his illustrious career in the Green and Yellow.
Byrd, the 5'11", supposedly-undersized defensive back makes up for his stature with amazing football instincts. That opinion is evident by the fact that Byrd has contributed 12 interceptions to the Oregon "D" during his career, which ranks second among active players. His father, Gill Byrd, holds the San Diego Chargers' all-time interception record, and don't be surprised to see Byrd play on Sundays, either.
Thurmond III is considered the best coverage man of the bunch. After all, Thurmond III has 27 breakups in his career, which is absolutely insane. Add to the mix that he had five interceptions last year, and he's a pretty complete player by most standards.
Sure it was only the first game of the season, but a convincing 44-10 victory over the Huskies showed how controlling this defense could be. Jake Locker, thought to be one of the finest young quarterbacks in the country, never was able to find a rhythm against the Ducks' experienced secondary.
In fact, Locker was getting pounded so badly, Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham sent out the backup QB for the final six minutes.
If yesterday was any indication of what is to come for the Oregon secondary, they most assuredly have to be considered the best in the land.