EUGENE-Ore.- The Ducks held the visiting Golden Eagles to just 48 first half yards from scrimmage, limited the running game to just 3 yards on twenty-two attempts and sacked quarterback Tre Lamb five times.
“We knew as a defense if we attacked and did what we were supposed to do, we were going to make plays,” defensive end Dion Jordan said. The senior finished the game with a team-leading five tackles, two for loss and one quarterback sack. “We wanted to start off quick.”
Despite the quick start and the swarming mentality the Ducks aided their opponent, giving the Golden Eagles three of their six first half first downs on penalties, two of which were roughing the passer calls.
“We were just trying to make plays,” said Jordan, who was guilty of one of the infractions. “We took the 15 and still came back after the penalty and stopped them.”
The Ducks continued their follies, committing two more personal foul penalties in the second half and finished the game with 12 penalties for 105 yards.
“Some of them you could say it’s a penalty of aggression, but if a guy is five yards out of bounds…I mean there’s big white lines on the field. I can see them, so guys not telling me where it is,” head coach Chip Kelly said.
“I feel like we just need to be smarter, but remain aggressive,” said safety Erick Dargan who also committed a personal foul, hitting Tennessee Tech’s Adam Urbano out of bounds in the third quarter.
Dargan saw extended snaps at safety along with Avery Patterson filling the absence left by John Boyett’s season-ending knee injuries. Dargan called his overall effort “pretty good”, and Aliotti seemed to agree.
“We didn’t get any balls thrown over our heads, so I think we did well,” he said. “Those guys are good, smart football players. I’m pleased with their efforts to this point.”
The second half was much of the same for the Ducks, a positive development for a unit that had been outscored 43-14 in second halves of its first two games. The Golden Eagles scored only once, again off of an Oregon turnover, and forced two of their own, both of which had chances for points, but failed to reach the end zone.
The first came when linebacker Kiko Alonso grabbed a tipped ball and ran behind a convoy of five defensive players only to be tripped up by the diminutive Lamb.
“Maybe Kiko should’ve set up his blocks better,” Aliotti remarked after the game.
Then in the second half, cornerback Dior Mathis picked off backup quarterback Darian Stone and had what appeared to be a clear path to the end zone before the side of his cleat was called out at the four-yard line.
“We had two opportunities to score on defense and we just didn’t let it happen. Maybe we’re saving them for another day,” Aliotti said.
But, what really satisfied Aliotti was the defense’s ability to force third downs and then hold Tennessee Tech and force punts.
“I’m really pleased—I’m not a big stat guy—but 1-17 on third down, that just jumps out. That’s a pretty big deal.”