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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Oregon finds improvement on defense

  • EUGENE — Oregon's highly touted defensive unit had its breakout performance of the season on Saturday during the Ducks' 63-14 victory against Tennessee Tech at Autzen Stadium.
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  • EUGENE — Oregon's highly touted defensive unit had its breakout performance of the season on Saturday during the Ducks' 63-14 victory against Tennessee Tech at Autzen Stadium.
    That it came against an undersized and overmatched Golden Eagles offense didn't seem to take the shine off a four-quarter effort that resulted in five sacks, two interceptions and 11 tackles for a loss.
    In the first half alone, Tennessee Tech netted just 48 yards on 34 plays. However, most of those yards came on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers on the Golden Eagles' opening drive.
    Remove that play and Tennessee Tech averaged well under a yard per play before halftime.
    "In the first half we completely dominated, which was nice," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. —… Our D-line did a nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage and putting some pressure on the quarterback."
    Three of the Ducks starting defensive linemen — ends Dion Jordan and Taylor Hart, and tackle Isaac Remington — had sacks and the unit as a whole spent the first half battering Tennessee Tech quarterback Tre Lamb, who netted just 12 yards of offense before being replaced midway through the third quarter.
    "We just knew coming in that if we gave it our best effort and attack and do what we're suppose to do, then we're going to make plays," Jordan said.
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    DEFENSIVE MISCUES, TOO: To be fair, the Oregon defense had a few sloppy moments as well.
    Of the Golden Eagles' 12 first downs, six were due to Oregon penalties, including three personal fouls for late hits by safeties Issac Dixon and Erick Dargan and linebacker Kiko Alonso, and another for a hit to the head of Lamb by Jordan.
    "I'll have to really look at it on film to see if it was a guy just going hard that went one step further than he should have, or was it just a blatant, stupid penalty," Aliotti said. "If it was a blatant, stupid penalty, those things can hurt you."
    The Ducks also had interceptions by Alonso and cornerback Dior Mathis nearly result in touchdowns.
    But Alonso, after his pick in the second quarter, was somehow tackled by Lamb despite a wall of blockers in front of him.
    And Mathis couldn't stay inbounds while running untouched down the sideline after his interception in the third quarter.
    "I guess we have to work on that a little bit better," Aliotti joked. "Dior had plenty of room on the sidelines. Kiko, he was a tight end in high school, I think, and it looked to me like there were five guys in front of him, five blockers "… that's too bad. It was kind of comical, to a certain degree."
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    INJURY REPORT: One week after losing two players to injury for the season, the Ducks appeared to escape Saturday's final nonconference game with their health.
    Oregon doesn't comment on the subject but there weren't any noticeable injuries during the game, which is good news for a team that lost senior offensive guard Carson York and senior safety John Boyett to season-ending knee injuries this past week.
    A handful of players who have been dinged up recently dressed but didn't play on Saturday, including starting receiver Josh Huff and reserve cornerback Troy Hill.
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    BIG IMPRESSION: Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown has held his current job for six seasons and was coach at Alabama-Birmingham the previous 12 years.
    During those combined 18 years he said his teams have played "40 games against teams from BCS conferences," including the likes of Iowa, Georgia, TCU, Arkansas and Kansas State since 2009 alone.
    However, none of them ever impressed Brown as much as Oregon did Saturday afternoon in the fourth-ranked Ducks' 63-14 nonconference victory at Autzen Stadium.
    "I'm not sure this isn't the best one we've played," Brown said. "This is a good football team. "… They don't have any weaknesses. They're REALLY fast and they're much bigger than you think. "… I think the missing piece is their defense and I think they're a lot better on defense than people realize."
    Earlier this week when discussing his team's upcoming $500,000 payday game against the Ducks, Brown said he hoped his team would be able to leave Autzen Stadium with its dignity intact.
    After Saturday's game, Brown said, despite the final score, his team should hold its head high.
    "I'm proud of my kids," Brown said. "We always go and we always fight our hearts out and give it our best. It's bittersweet because you know coming in you've got a tough road "… but at the same time, I think we get a lot out of it."
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    NOTES: Marcus Mariota became the first freshman quarterback in Oregon history to throw for 300 yards (308) in a game. "… Running back Kenjon Barner tied Jonathan Stewart for fourth on UO's all-time touchdown list with the 33rd of his career on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. "… Tennessee Tech punter Chad Zinchini tied the Autzen Stadium record, becoming the fourth player with 12 punts in the game. "… The Ducks scored 60 or more points for the fifth time since 2010 under coach Chip Kelly. "… The crowd of 57,091 marked the 85th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium, dating to 1999. The last non-sellout was Sept. 18, 1999 vs. Nevada.
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