Oregon Ducks Defensive Growth Begins With The Pass Rush


Dan Lanning was brought in as the new Ducks head coach after he was the defensive coordinator of the national champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Nobody was expecting the Ducks defense to be Georgia 2.0. But most Ducks fans expected more out of that unit that finished 74th nationally in points allowed per game and 100th in the country in yards given up per play in Lanning’s first year.

Those are two numbers that need to be improved.

Spencer McLaughlin, host of the Locked On Ducks Podcast joined the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano and said that even though the defense was a little improved from the defense in Mario Cristobal’s final season, they had one glaring need.

“There was improvement from 2021 to 2022 on that side of the ball, but not as much as Ducks fans would have liked,” McLaughlin said on 750 The Game. “The biggest thing that was missing was a pass rush. It was their lowest pass rush and sack rate since 2001. It was historically bad.”

The Ducks finished 123rd in the nation in third down percentage on the defensive side, a number that crushed them in their loss to rival Washington.

“That’s one of the reasons they couldn’t get off the field on third downs,” McLaughlin said. “You look at the Washington game. If you give Michael Penix, who is playing himself into the first or second round of the NFL draft next year, if you give him time to sit back there, drink a cup of a coffee, pat the ball three times and fire, he’s going to pick you apart.”

McLaughlin thinks that if the Ducks can get some improvement on the pass rush the overall defense should be fine.

“Oregon’s inability to create pressure last year I think really did in the defense most of all,” he said. “They need better production from their linebackers. A couple more big plays from the safeties would be good. Corners are going to thrive when they have a pass rush that doesn’t require them to cover really good receivers for five, six, seven seconds. That’s just asking far too much.”

The Ducks have addressed some of the needs on the defensive line through the transfer portal and traditional recruiting. Now it’s on Dan Lanning and his staff to prove that he is the right coach to lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff once again.

Listen to the full interview with Spencer McLaughlin by following the link below. Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano weekdays 3-6 p.m. in Portland on 750 The Game.