Friday, March 25, 2011

Like Ed Harris in Apollo 13: Will 2011 be the defensive line's finest hour?

Failure is not an option.

John Hunt of oregonlive has a preview of the defensive line, and the outlook is good, even with three starters departing:

"The Ducks have been remaking their defensive front for a couple of seasons now, moving toward faster, quicker players who can drop into coverage but, ideally, with a stout guy inside who can muck things up but still move."

Terrell Turner is likely to step up into a leadership role.

"How about the praying mantis? Dion Jordan, who matched Turner with 33 tackles and 5 ½ tackles for loss last season, is a unique athlete with great wingspan and speed. The Ducks want his athleticism on the field, but is the converted receiver mature enough to replace the do-everything Rowe?"

Hunt projects Keliipiki and Taylor Hart as the likely starters inside, but with Oregon's rotations and fast pace, Heimuli and JC transfer Ebert are certain to get the opportunity to contribute.  Brandon Hanna will compete with Jordan for the other starting spot at defensive end.  Hanna, a senior from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is 6-2 234, a converted linebacker with the mobility to play the drop-end role.

Coach Azzinaro enters his third year as the d-line coach.  Two years ago, Hunt notes, the hard-driving Azzinaro had just one returning starter and molded a defensive line that led the conference with 36 sacks.

Duck Tracks: In all the preseason magazines and the late summer ESPN chalktalks, defensive line will be cited as a question mark for this year's Ducks.  What the critics don't know is, this defensive line is primed to exceed all expectations, and continue the evolution of Oregon defensive football.  There will be aggressiveness and mayhem from some fast, crazy guys who love to play hard and hit people.

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