It is not going to get any easier for Washington State this week when Mike Leaches football team hosts the high-flying Oregon Ducks. Coming off a last second defeat against the upset minded Colorado the WSU Cougars must now face a well equipped spread-offense that will sprint into the end zone against a team who hasn’t heard about the defensive side of football.
Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti gets emotional when talking about his ”kids.”
The longtime Oregon assistant has surely become accustomed in recent years to all the attention falling on the Ducks’ speedy spread offense. So when the spotlight falls on Oregon’s defense, Aliotti’s pride is apparent.
”Anything’s possible with these kids,” he said with an ear-to-ear grin. ”They listen. They practice hard. They want to win.”
The defense starred last weekend when No. 2 Oregon shut out Arizona 49-0. Six times the Ducks prevented the Wildcats from scoring from the red zone.
Interceptions by sophomores Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill were returned for touchdowns, and overall the Ducks had four interceptions returned for 99 yards. Linebacker Michael Clay had 13 tackles, including two for loss, to earn Pac-12 player of the week honors.
The shutout was the first in conference play for Oregon since a 35-0 win over Stanford in 2003, although last season the defense held when Colorado only came away with a safety on an Oregon punt return in a 45-2 Ducks victory.
Arizona went into last week’s game averaging more than 46 points and 600 total offensive yards per game. The loss dropped the then-No. 22 Wildcats out of the AP rankings, while Oregon leapfrogged a spot over LSU.
”I don’t come in thinking about a shutout, no,” Aliotti said. ”I was hoping we would have one more point than they did at the end of the game, to be honest with you. We had a few more points than they did, which was nice.”
Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) runs a hybrid 3-4 defense under Aliotti. Because the Ducks’ offense is so quick, the defensive unit is well-conditioned and adept at rotating in and out. And players often say the Ducks’ defense is all the stronger for having to practice every day against the Ducks’ offense.
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