ESPN Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg published his top 25 future defensive performance rankings, assessing the next three seasons to predict college football’s dominant defense.
The Oregon Ducks slipped to No. 14 in the rankings, good for second place in the Pac-12 behind Utah in No. 12. Oregon ranked No. 6 in Rittenberg’s 2021 rankings. While the Oregon Defense looks set to be a strong unit for years to come, it may take time to reach this level with a brand new system and a defensively focused coaching staff.
The departure of veterans pleases Kayvon Thibodeaux, Verona McKinley IIIand DJ James will force some of the added four and five star talents in the final recruitment tiers to step in and contribute immediately. But in a few years, Oregon’s defense could be one of the best in the sport.
For 2022, the Ducks will have a stable of veterans at all levels to provide identity to Dan Lanning and Tosh Lupoi’s defense. Noah Sewell, Brandon Dorlus, Bennett Williamsand other headlines in this issue of the Ducks defense.
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Noah Sewell vs. Fresno State
Sewell celebrates a tackle against the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Brandon Dorlus vs. UCLA
Dorlus wears Oregon’s “eggshell” uniforms against the UCLA Bruins.
Bennett Williams vs. Stony Brook
Williams returns an interception on Stony Brook.
Rittenberg had this to say about the future of the Lanning and Lupoi-led Oregon Defense:
“The unit has been on a solid path but is entering a period of transition with the arrival of coach Dan Lanning and the departure of standout end player Kayvon Thibodeaux, playmaker Verone McKinley III and others. Lanning has proven himself both as a tactician and as a recruiter at Georgia should continue the momentum of predecessor Mario Cristobal to bring top defensemen to Eugene trailing Thibodeaux with team-high 114 tackles last fall, a fundamental stretch behind (4) and divided for the team’s lead in forced fumbles (2) Sewell is surrounded by non-senior linebackers Oregon needs to bring forth, like for example Junior Mase FunaRedshirt newbie Justin Flowesecond grader Keith Brown and Treven Ma’ae and other. second grader Bradyne Swinson is listed on the defensive end but could play for Lanning and coordinator Tosh Lupoi at full-back after recording three sacks and starting 2021.
There is some senior tackle experience Popo Aumavaejunior end Brandon Dorlus and tackle the second year Keyon Ware-Hudson, but all three missed time after surgeries this spring, allowing others to get more field time. The development of players like Sophomore Tackle Sua’ava Potisecond end Brandon Buckner and junior tackle Sam Taimani, a transfer from Washington, will help long-term depth. Safeties Bennett Williams (three interceptions in 2021), Yamal hill (seven launches in 2021) and Steve Stephen IV (eight starts) will be running a slightly redesigned secondary this fall. The cornerback spot has new faces, including a Colorado transfer Christian Gonzales and fellow sophomores Trikweze Bridges (three launches in 2021) and Dontae Manning (18 duels as a reserve). Oregon should regain most of its DB rotation next fall and add ESPN 300 recruits Jahlil Florence and Trejon Williams.”
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