Oregon continues the 2012 season with their second consecutive home tilt. The opponent in week two will be a rebuilding Fresno State (1-0) team. The Bulldogs, who went just 4-9 last season are working under new head coach Tim DeRuyter. A defensive coordinator at Texas A&M before being hired as the head coach, DeRuyter's defenses have always been very solid.
Fresno enters the contest fresh off of a victory over FCS opponent Weber State in week one. After jumping out to an early 21-0 lead, the Bulldogs coasted home to a 37-10 victory.
Oregon (1-0) enters the game having answered many questions about the ability of the defense to play at a very high level, but some questions as to how good their depth will be this season. After jumping to a huge 50-3 lead midway through the second quarter, Oregon emptied its bench and let the reserves take it home. But they struggled being outscored 31-7 down the stretch.
Once again, this non-conference match-up gives the young Ducks a chance to compete and become better players.
In this continuing series from Duck Sports Authority we bring you the head-to-head match-ups of the Oregon Ducks and Fresno State Bulldogs Today the focus is on defense.
Fresno State: Fresno State runs a true 3-4 defense. Starting at nose guard will be Tyeler Davison (6-2, 311) a redshirt sophomore who started his first game against Weber State. Davison did play in all 13 games last season as a reserve and notched 16 total tackles for the Bulldogs.
The only reserve nose guard to see time last week is Nikko Motta (6-2, 285) a fourth year junior who did not play last season. As a freshman, Motta played in six games and recorded 11 tackles.
Oregon: Unlike their opponent, Oregon will be bringing a wealth of experience at defensive tackle. Starters Wade Keliikipi (6-3, 295) and Isaac Remington (6-4, 301) both saw action as starters last season with Keliikipi starting the final 11 games. Keliikipi recorded a career high 5 tackles in the win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl while Remington recorded 31 total tackles on the season.
The real difference for Oregon will come in the reserves as Oregon not only returns all the defensive tackles from last season, but they got even better with Jared Ebert (6-5, 260) coming off of a redshirt year and Ricky Heimuli (6-4, 305) showing promise with 22 total tackles in his 14 reserve appearances. The Ducks are also versatile here as Taylor Hart can move inside if needed.
In the opener against Arkansas State, the Duck defensive line was dominant until replaced in the second quarter. The starters completely shut down the running game for Arkansas State.
The Ducks have more experience, depth and talent at this position than Fresno State and a decided advantage. Fresno State will have to play a lot more defensive linemen than they are used to in order to keep up with the Ducks pace. If they do, their inexperience will get taken advantage of; if they do not, then the starters are in for a long day.
Fresno State: At one defensive end position will be Andy Jennings (6-2, 278) a fourth year junior. Last season, Jennings saw action in just five games recording four total tackles. Across from him will be Anthony Williams (6-2, 296) a fifth year senior. Like the rest of the defensive line, this is Williams' first experience as a starter. He has missed two of the past three seasons with injuries playing in 11 games in the 2010 season. As a reserve that year he recorded 16 total tackles with three tackles for loss and two sacks. His sack against Illinois helped the Bulldogs preserve a late lead and victory.
Against Weber State, only one reserve defensive end saw action. Ben Letcher (6-2, 241), a fourth year junior saw his first game action. Letcher recorded one tackle last week.
Oregon: Oregon has a first team All Pac-12 defensive end hybrid in Dion Jordan (6-7, 243) who terrorized Pac-12 quarterbacks and coaches last season en route to 42 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. The other side will be taken over by Taylor Hart (6-6, 292) a junior from Tualatin. Hart moves over to defensive end after starting 14 games last season as a defensive tackle. Hart was second among all defensive linemen last season recording 44 total tackles and received honorable mention All Pac-12 last season.
Behind Hart is possibly the most highly touted defensive linemen at Oregon since NFL All Pro Haloti Ngata. Arik Armstead (6-8, 297) graduated high school early and participated in Spring football for the Ducks getting a jump on others. He made the most of his early arrival and has earned rave reviews early on from coaches and team mates alike. In his first action as a college football player, Armstead was steady if not yet spectacular. In addition to Armstead, another true freshman has made his mark as Hawaii native Deforrest Buckner will likely see significant action this week. The loss of Jared Ebert to injury will likely change rotations and get both of the freshman more minutes on the field.
Backing up Jordan will be Tony Washington (6-3, 244) a sophomore who also moved over from defensive tackle. Washington saw action in 10 games as a freshman and recorded 18 total tackles.
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