By Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Oregon’s four sacks Saturday were the Ducks’ most in a conference game in nearly a year, but the UO defensive linemen weren’t taking a whole lot of credit for their performance at Washington.
Nose guard Wade Keliikipi, who was in on two of the four, said most of the hits on Keith Price deserved to be labeled coverage sacks; Oregon’s defensive backs had UW’s receivers blanketed so well, the defensive line had extra time to get to the quarterback.
Today after practice, DeForest Buckner was equally low-key about Saturday’s performance.
“I feel like we got a little pressure; we could do a lot better,” Buckner said.
The Ducks up front on defense figure to have plenty of chances to try this week. Up next is Washington State, which is attempting 54.4 passes per game, third-most in the country.
With all of those chances to pass-rush, Keliikipi hopes he can return last week’s favor to the secondary.
“We just hope to get more sacks, create more turnovers,” Keliikipi said. “Hopefully we can provide enough pressure for the DBs to get some interceptions.”
If they do, Buckner figures to be a significant contributor. The sophomore from Hawaii stepped into the starting lineup Saturday in Seattle and more than held his own, making five tackles to take his season total from 10 to 15 through six games.
The 6-foot-7, 286-pound giant is one of the most imposing members of the team based on sheer stature, but Buckner is standing out with his play as well.
“He did a good job,” UO defensive line coach Ron Aiken said. “He was physical. He used his hands really well. He was authoritative making his calls inside. I was pleased.”
Aiken has obviously put in quite a bit of work with Buckner, but the assistant coach acknowledged he couldn’t take all the credit.
Buckner has put in the work in practice, and played a prominent role in the rotation the last two years. When a guy takes advantage of the experience that comes over time, stepping up in his first starting assignment of the year Saturday -- the third of his career -- wasn’t surprising.
“The key thing about it was, it was no big thing,” Aiken said. “He stepped up, and he played. I always tell guys, I’m not going to make a big thing out of who’s with what group. It’s just the next guy up, step up and play.”
Aiken’s comment on Buckner having “used his hands really well” was an example of his progress since last season, Buckner said.
Sometimes as a freshman Buckner would get so overwhelmed he’d forget to fall back on his training. Now he’s calm enough under fire to use pass-rush moves he’s practiced, such as what looked like a spin move to beat Tyler Johnstone during a one-on-one drill today.
“Last year it was all just bull-rushing,” he said. “I’d get all caught up -- going, ‘What am I going to do?’ -- and just go into the guy. Now I’m getting a lot better working with my hands this year.”
Highlights: The defense came out ahead in another clutch scenario. Erick Dargan intercepted a pass in the end zone with the ones, and the twos were called for intentional grounding, resulting in a 10-second run-off that killed the rest of the clock. Exactly the sort of lesson Jeff Lockie wants to learn in practice rather than in a game.
Pharaoh Brown had one of the plays of the day, a one-handed catch while bracketed by two scout-team defenders. … Bralon Addison returned a punt for a touchdown against scouts. … Reggie Daniels had an interception and moments later came up from behind a receiver to break up a pass in 11-on-11 vs. scouts. … Ryan Hagen and Stetzon Bair made nice stops on run plays for the scout defense.
Other observations: De’Anthony Thomas told media after practice that he remained limited today, and was uncertain of his status for Saturday’s game. … Josh Huff, who celebrates a birthday today, was in a walking boot after practice, as reported by local media. ... After working with the scout-team offense last week, Tyree Robinson and Juwaan Williams are back on defense this week. … In case you missed it, Oregon’s Oct. 26 home game against UCLA, currently a matchup of top-10 teams, was assigned a 4 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2.